Motown’s Presence at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards

Appearances by Diana Ross, Berry Gordy Jr., and a tribute to the Queen of Soul made the event decidedly Detroit


Diana Ross performing “Reach Out and Touch” at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards // Photo courtesy of CBS

If you didn’t catch the 61st Grammy’s last night, then you missed out on a night that largely played tribute to the lates and greats of Motown. Former First Lady Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance, standing on stage with likes of Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jennifer Lopez, and host Alicia Keys, while she professed the profound effects the genre had on her upbringing. “From the Motown records I wore out on the South Side to the 'Who Run the World' songs that fueled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story," says Obama. "Music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes, our joys. Music shows us that all of it matters." Her speech earned a standing ovation at the very moment she mentioned Motown.

The televised music award ceremony continued with a performance by Diana Ross, in celebration of The Supremes’ lead singer’s 75th birthday. Her grandson, Raif-Henok Emmanuel Kendrick, introduced Ross, who donned a consuming red tulle ballgown while belting out hit songs such as “Reach Out and Touch.” Motown founder, Berry Gordy Jr., was in attendance for the performance, singing along with the crowd.

Later, Jennifer Lopez honored Motown’s legacy by performing a number of songs, including Marvin Gaye’s “Dancing in the Street,” the Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman,” Luther Vandross’ “The Best Things in Life Are Free" and “Do You Love Me” by The Contours. Detroit-native Smokey Robinson joined in on J Lo's performance of “My Girl,” with Alicia Keys later helping the duo sing The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” A breathy take on Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” was also performed by St. Vincent and Dua Lipa before the duo launched into Lipa’s “One Kiss.”

The night concluded with a tribute to the Queen of Soul. Yolanda Adams, Fantasia Barrino, and Andra Day harmonized for Aretha’s “You Make Me Feel,” a preview of another Motown special to come. Tomorrow, Feb. 12, CBS, the Recording Academy, and AEG Ehrlich Ventures will present Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration. The live concert honoring the label’s 60th anniversary, will air on CBS on April 21.


What did you think of the Grammy's? Let us in the comments below.

Related: Detroit Rapper Tee Grizzley On Prison-Time and That Rumored Big Sean Collaboration

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Poke Bowl Chain Pokē Pokē is Expanding to Detroit

And Michigan overall, for that matter

Bryce Vine Talks Love, Politics, and His Upcoming Full-Length Album, 'Carnival'

The “Drew Barrymore” singer performs tonight at The Shelter in Detroit

10 Things to Do This Weekend (Feb. 15-17)

Embrace this cold, winter weekend with comedy shows, family fun, and musical performances that are suited for all tastes.

6 Last-Minute Date-Night Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Because your significant other is worth more than a simple movie and dinner

A First Look at Royal Oak’s Soon-to-Come Condados Tacos

The build-your-own taco joint will open this spring
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. And the 2019 Restaurant of the Year Is: Prime + Proper
    A polished ambience and masterful dishes at downtown Detroit’s Prime + Proper, reimagine the...
  2. 24 Hours With . . . Sophia Bush
    Actress, activist, and co-founder of Detroit Blows
  3. Bottoms Up
    More than 60 years after Black Bottom was razed, the Detroit region named for its rich, dark soil...
  4. Live Long and Prosper
    Ann Arbor’s Forever Labs builds a thriving business banking stem cells on the prospect of...
  5. Three Generations, One Roof
    University of Michigan Professor Natasha Pilkauskas finds one type of household is on the rise
  6. North American International Auto Show Charity Preview
  7. Japanese Exchange
    Adachi brings a fresh Asian-inspired menu to a Birmingham landmark
  8. Another Crack in the Ceiling
    A young, rising female activist shares the impact and inspiration of Rashida Tlaib’s historic...
  9. Smart Cookies
    More than a century ago, Juliette Gordon Low sparked a movement to inspire girls to embrace their...
  10. Pure and Simple
    Drawing inspiration from the spring bridal runways and celebrity brides alike (we’re looking at...