Los Angeles–The 54th Annual Grammy Awards were buzzing, but not from the usual excitement that has come to define music's biggest night at the Staples Center.
A much-anticipated tribute performance by Jennifer Hudson to Whitney Houston, whose sudden death a day earlier has devastated the world, had many wondering if Hudson would be able to deliver without falling apart. Others scheduled to do the tribute with Hudson, including Chaka Khan, were too distraught to hit the stage.
Following a brief moment of nearly getting choked up as she began a rendition of Houston's I Will Always Love You, Hudson pulled it together to do what she does best–SANG! Hudson received a standing ovation from the audience. In the media room, the Chicago native received applause. This hardly ever happens back there among us serious, deadline-driven reporters.
Others remembered her in their own way as well. LL Cool J, who hosted the ceremony, began with a moment of silence. Singer Melanie Fiona, a two-time winner, said, "I wouldn't be standing here if it wasn't for her," citing that the first song she sang at 2 years old was Houston's The Greatest Love of All. Kirk Franklin recalled how Houston supported him at the age of 19 by recording his inspirational song Joy. "Even though I do gospel music and talk about faith. I'm trying to figure it out [her untimely death]," he said.
This year's ceremony saw the return of Chris Brown, who hadn't attended a show since his infamous 2009 altercation with former girlfriend, singer Rihanna. There were mixed emotions about his win, but nothing compared to the Laurieann Gibson-choreographed performance by Nikki Minaj. Last week Gibson promised it would be "huge" and "exciting." That it was. Now, if people could only understand what the hell was really happening on that stage!
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Senior Editor, EBONY Magazine