Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
From Dolly To H.E.R.: 10 Unforgettable 2019 GRAMMYs Moments
With the broadcast eclipsing the three-and-a-half hour mark, the 61st GRAMMY Awards offered a plethora of impressive performances and memorable moments—so many, in fact, that you'd be forgiven if a few slipped past your radar. Fortunately, we're here to recap all the evening's highlights and round up 10 of the show's top moments.
1. Michelle Obama helps open the show
The GRAMMYs are always full of surprises, but the crowd at the Staples Center was particularly taken aback when none other than Michelle Obama took the stage last night. The former First Lady joined Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Jada Pinkett Smith and host Alicia Keys to discuss the power of music. "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," Obama said after a long ovation. "Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes and joys. It allows us to hear one another, to invite each other in."
2. Kacey Musgraves cleans up
It was a huge night for Kacey Musgraves, as she took home four GRAMMYs—Best Country Solo Performance for "Butterflies," Best Country Song for "Space Cowboy," Best Country Album for Golden Hour and the night's biggest honor, Album of the Year—and sang with Dolly Parton, but one of her best moments came early in the show as she performed "Rainbow." On a night that's typically dominated by intricate choreography and elaborate set pieces, it was striking to see Musgraves opt for the understated, reassuring ballad, which she performed accompanied only by a piano.
3. Janelle Monáe makes us feel
Every Janelle Monáe performance is memorable, and her Grammy appearance this year was no different, stealing the show and making for some great Lady Gaga reaction shots. Monáe tore through Dirty Computer highlight "Make Me Feel" with all the flair we've come to expect from her before transitioning into snippets of "Django Jane" ("Black girl magic, y'all can't stand it, y'all can't ban it, made out like a bandit...let the vagina have a monologue.") and "PYNK," bringing out dancers clad in the vagina pants from the latter's video, which earned her a Best Music Video nomination this year. "I love you, Dirty Computers," she declared, before very deservedly dropping the mic.
4. That dazzling Dolly Parton tribute
The GRAMMY tribute to MusiCares Person of the Year and all-around legend Dolly Parton was a star-studded affair, featuring performances from the likes of Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Little Big Town and more, but the real star of the segment was the Backwoods Barbie herself. Parton stunned with some excellent vocals, kicking things off with Musgraves and Perry on "Here You Come Again" before duetting with her goddaughter Cyrus on "Jolene." Cyrus and Parton were joined by Maren Morris for some gorgeous three-part harmony on "After the Gold Rush," which she recorded with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris on their classic Trio II album. Little Big Town appeared for new track "Red Shoes" from the Dumplin' soundtrack before Parton brought it home with a "9 to 5" finale.
5. H.E.R. arrives
Best New Artist nominee H.E.R. stunned with a performance of "Hard Place," from her 2018 EP I Used to Know Her: Part 2. It was a big night for H.E.R. (real name Gabi Wilson), as she took home two GRAMMYs, Best R&B Album for H.E.R. and Best R&B Performance for "Best Part." "I'm speechless right now," she told the crowd during her acceptance speech. "I'm holding back tears."
6. Diana Ross celebrates her best years
Diana Ross' 75th birthday isn't until March 26, but that didn't stop her from celebrating at the GRAMMYs last night. After an Alicia Keys-narrated video package highlighting her achievements and an adorable introduction from her grandson, the Motown legend came out to perform "Best Years of My Life" and "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)." "All is possible with music and with you. You can lead the way," she reminded the audience, before gleefully wrapping up with "Happy birthday to me!"
7. Lady Gaga shines
Bradley Cooper may not have been in the building to share the "Shallow" spotlight with her (he was busy representing 'A Star is Born' at the BAFTAs), but Lady Gaga was more than fine handling it on her own, belting out both parts to the movie's big duet, which was nominated for four GRAMMYs. "Shallow" took home two wins, Best Pop/Duo Performance and Best Song Written for Visual Media, and Gaga also went home with the Best Pop Solo Performance Grammy for "Joanne (Where Do You Think You're Goin'?)."
8. Brandi Carlile jumps for joy
By the time she hit the stage last night, Brandi Carlile had already taken home three GRAMMYs (Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song for "The Joke" and Best Americana Album for By the Way, I Forgive You), so her incredible performance of "The Joke" was the icing on the cake. Her soaring vocals earned her a standing ovation, which she reacted to by joyfully jumping up and down and pumping her fist. Joke's on you if you snoozed on this stunning talent.
9. St. Vincent and Dua Lipa team up
St. Vincent and Dua Lipa both had big nights, with the former winning Best Rock Song for "Masseduction" and the latter taking home Best New Artist, and their GRAMMY performance served as the perfect victory lap. The pair performed a mashup of "Masseduction" and "One Kiss," with the refrain of Aretha Franklin's "Respect" and a healthy amount of St. Vincent guitar riffs, played on her signature Ernie Ball, mixed in.
10. Respect for Aretha Franklin
Speaking of Aretha, she's getting her own tribute special on March 10, but it wouldn't be right to go without paying respect to the Queen of Soul on the GRAMMY broadcast as well. After the show's In Memoriam segment, Yolanda Adams, Fantasia and Andra Day teamed up for a rendition of "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman," with each woman taking a verse before ending in striking three-part harmony.