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10 Essential Tina Turner Cuts From the '70s: How Her Forgotten Era Set The Stage For A Dramatic Debut As A Solo Performer
Tina Turner at the Las Vegas Entertainment Awards in 1977

PHOTO: Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer

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10 Essential Tina Turner Cuts From the '70s: How Her Forgotten Era Set The Stage For A Dramatic Debut As A Solo Performer

The legendary singer recently sold her entire music catalog. For fans and future generations, this could mean that her 1970s output – one of the most intriguing eras of her career – can finally be properly heard again.

GRAMMYs/Mar 18, 2022 - 04:02 pm

At the age of 82, singer Tina Turner certainly has nothing left to prove. She retired from performing in 2009 and lives comfortably above Lake Zurich in Switzerland with her former record executive husband. A recent musical based on her life successfully debuted in London before moving to Broadway. Last year’s HBO documentary, Tina, dramatically showcased the highs and lows of her career. And, this past October, the 12-time GRAMMY winner entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the second time, this time as a solo artist.

More recently, she seemed to close the book on her 60 year singing career by selling her entire music catalog to BMG for an estimated $50 million (though another estimate has the sale at $300 million). "Like any artist, the protection of my life’s work, my musical inheritance, is something personal," said Turner in a statement. "I am confident that…my work is in professional and reliable hands." While some music critics casually remarked that the figure was low for a recording artist who has sold over 100 million records in her career, others will be keen to see how the singer’s legacy is handled.  

For a case can be made that Turner’s body of work is among the most mis-managed in music for a legend of her stature. This, after all, is a singer who combined "the emotional force of the great blues singers with a sheer, wallpaper-peeling power that seemed made to order for the age of amplification," according to journalist Kurt Loder, who co-authored the 1986 bestseller I, Tina with Turner.  

Avid music fans may be familiar with early 1970s classics like "River Deep, Mountain High" or "Nutbush City Limits," which were recorded with ex-husband Ike Turner. Others are more likely to sing along to her video-friendly solo anthems like "The Best" and "What’s Love Got To Do With It," the single that launched her major '80s comeback.

But starting in 1972, Turner was laying the groundwork to strike out on her own — both literally and figuratively — from the shadow of Ike. Over the course of the next decade, Turner experimented with musical styles, launched herself into film and variety shows, embraced Buddhism, wrote songs, dramatically escaped an abusive marriage and supported herself doing a variety of jobs, which included a stint as a cleaning lady. She also released four solo albums during this period that are now mostly out of print — and none of which can currently be found on Spotify.

Here are 10 notable songs from that period’s solo efforts that deserve to be heard by a wider audience:

The Bayou Song (1974)

"Just another Louisiana afternoon/Drinking homemade liquor two ounce smooth," Turner drawls over a country track that threatens to erupt at any moment. The guitar twangs and the bass and keyboards slowly rumble. Then Turner lets loose about being too tired to eat, too hungry to fight.  

She turns the genre on its head by injecting it with a whole lot of her vocal chops. This single from her debut solo album Tina Turns The Country On! was made in an effort to expand her audience, but it didn’t even chart. She did, however, garner a nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance at the 1975 GRAMMY Awards.

He Belongs To Me (1974)

Turner reinterpreted some of the biggest songwriters of the era and genre on Tina Turns The Country On! On the 10 track release, she takes on Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, James Taylor and two by Bob Dylan, including this one.  

The laidback, keyboard-based song gently layers guitar and a female chorus while Turner sings up the virtues of "an artist, and he don’t look back." But it’s hard to contain her vocal enthusiasm, and three quarters of the way through she’s literally squealing. Surprisingly, Tina Turns The Country On! has never even been released on CD.

Whole Lotta Love (1975)

Turner slows down the Led Zeppelin II classic single and provides a smoldering, growling counterpoint from the female perspective. From her second solo album Acid Queen, the song’s notable guitar riff becomes a funky drone and is beefed up with the backing of fat sounding bass notes, seductive strings and the sound of a singer who wants a whole LOTTTAAA LOVVVVVVE.  

The song only made it to 61 on the R&B charts at the time, but recently saw new life in the recent Disney film Cruella. And no, Turner and Robert Plant never did duet on this song live as the stage might have spontaneously combusted.

Acid Queen (1975)

She had never heard The Who’s Tommy album, nor did Turner have any idea what "Acid Queen" was all about. So Turner improvised in the 1975 musical film, bringing rabid, rock 'n' roll intensity.  

Turner stole the spotlight in her single scene, and helped make the soundtrack the best-selling success she’d ever been a part of. The success prompted demand for Turner's first solo "rock" album. Though it only reached 155 on the Billboard Album Charts, the powerful rock single remained a showcase staple in Turner’s concert set for the remainder of her career.

Bootsy Whitelaw (1975)

"He was tall, big and tan/I tell you, he was a hell of a good looking thing," Turner bellows during the intro to this single off her second solo album. Underneath, a swampy guitar signals drama. Overhead, keyboard flourishes mean something’s going to develop.  

Whitelaw was a noted trombonist in Turner’s childhood Tennessee town and becomes something of a legend here. "Mama told me everything about/But not about Mr. Bootsy Whitelaw." Ike had a hand in co-creating this one, a song that’s gritty, funky and unforgettably nasty.

I Can See For Miles (1975)

Turner turns The Who’s classic '60s track into a propulsive funk and string-laden number on her second solo release that would be perfect soundtrack material. One can picture it now: the lead female character strutting down the street with all eyes on her, confident that she’s on the trail of something big. Throughout, Turner’s raspy vocals threaten to go off the rails — for miles — but she keeps it all in check.

Fruits Of The Night (1978)

Legally free from Ike Turner at last, one can practically hear her happiness throughout third solo release Rough. On this single, Turner goes the disco route with Giorgio Moroder collaborator Pete Bellotte. Bellotte trots out staccato Chic-inspired guitar riffs to drive the song, working in an early synthesizer solo during the interlude. Turner does her best to convince listeners that "this ain’t no game" while trying to sell the largely nonsensical English lyrics by German writer Edo Zanki.

The Bitch Is Back (1978)

Rough was filled with covers by a variety of blues and current rock artists, including Bob Seger, Dan Hill, Willie Dixon and Willie Nelson. She also tackled "The Bitch is Back," a top ten 1974 hit by Elton John. She puts a rocking revue style spin on the keyboard stomper, and when she screams "the bitch is backkkkk," one gets the feeling she means it. The song, like the singer, had legs and would appear in her stage show for years. The album, however, sank without a trace.

Music Keeps Me Dancing (1979)

Turner relied on outside writers on her fourth solo release, Love Explosion, which was largely recorded in London. Teaming up with French disco producer Alec R. Costandinos was a bit of a mismatch here; Costandinos is offering cheesy stage disco while Turner’s singing like she’s the headliner on a rock bill.  

With singers like Donna Summer offering a smoother variation on the genre at the time, this release didn’t stand a chance. The album was Turner's worst solo release to date and wasn’t even released in the U.S. Greater things though, were just over the horizon.

Ball Of Confusion (1983)

While technically not a '70s recording, without the sequence of events that took place next, Turner’s career might have remained a struggle. Due to lack of sales for her fourth solo album, Turner found herself without a record deal, opening shows for the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart.  

Then, an offer came in to work with Heaven 17 members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, who also called themselves B.E.F. (British Electric Foundation). It was just the bank of synthesizers, the two men and Turner in a London studio. Though the synth licks may sound dated today, the Temptations' cover is kicked into gear. "In this world of increasingly sophisticated technology, she is still unique," said Ware.  

The song, recorded in a single take, showed once and for all that Turner was willing to embrace new musical style s and experiment in a bid to further her career. UK audiences bit and the song’s double-sided success (it was released with her rendition of Sam Cooke’s "Change Is Gonna Come") convinced Capitol Records to roll the dice on Turner one more time. Her subsequent album, Private Dancer, took home four GRAMMY Awards, sold 10 million copies and a star was reborn.  

Tina Turner Opens Up: "Let Me Tell You About My Life"

Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Adele: Record Of The Year GRAMMY Rewind

Photos: WireImage.com

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Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Adele: Record Of The Year GRAMMY Rewind

Time travel through GRAMMY history and revisit the impressive lineage of Record Of The Year winners

GRAMMYs/Jan 5, 2018 - 06:17 am

Numerically speaking, it's the first category on the GRAMMY Awards nominations list. Conversely, it is typically one of the final categories announced on the annual GRAMMY telecast. And its winners have spanned jazz, pop, rock, R&B, and Latin, among other genres.


What's the category? It's Record Of The Year, which is an award that goes to a track's artist, producer, engineer, mixer, and mastering engineer.

The Record Of The Year category's 59-year history offers a unique aural tour through the annals popular music — one that certainly has the makings for one powerfully diverse playlist.

Record Of The Year: Full List Of Winners And Nominees

There's Bobby Darin's swingin' "Mack The Knife" (1959), Henry Mancini's exquisite "Days Of Wine And Roses" (1963), Frank Sinatra's velvety "Strangers In The Night" (1966),  Simon And Garfunkel's inspired "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Roberta Flack's radiant "Killing Me Softly With His Song" (1973), and Captain & Tennille's breezy "Love Will Keep Us Together" (1975).

In the '80s, radio-friendly hits such as Toto's "Rosanna" (1982), Michael Jackson's "Beat It" (1983) and Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It" (1984) were among the winning recordings.

The '90s netted the likes of Eric Clapton's moving "Tears In Heaven" (1992), Whitney Houston's ubiquitous "I Will Always Love You" (1993) and Santana featuring Rob Thomas' infectious "Smooth" (1999).

The Record Of The Year lineage continued into the 2000s and beyond with unforgettable hits such as U2's "Beautiful Day" (2000), Green Day's "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" (2005), Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" (2007), Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers' "Get Lucky" (2013), and most recently, Adele's "Hello" (2016).

Which recording will become the 60th Record Of The Year GRAMMY winner? Tune in to the 60th GRAMMY Awards on Jan. 28 to find out.

What's The Difference? GRAMMY Record Of The Year Vs. Song Of The Year

Beyoncé To Alison Krauss: 9 Times Women Made GRAMMY History

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Beyoncé To Alison Krauss: 9 Times Women Made GRAMMY History

Celebrate Women's History month with Ella Fitzgerald's firsts, Alison Krauss and Beyoncé's mosts, and more history-making women at the GRAMMYs

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

Updated May 5, 2021.

To highlight Women's History Month this March, we dug into our archives all the way back to the GRAMMY Awards' beginnings in 1958 to acknowledge the women who have made GRAMMY — and music — history. From the first women to ever win a GRAMMY to the top GRAMMY-winning woman, first female GRAMMY performers and the first female GRAMMY host, take a look at nine examples of how women blazed trails through the lens of the GRAMMYs.

Ella Fitzgerald: The first woman to win multiple GRAMMYs

The 1st GRAMMY Awards took place in 1958, and women were among the first crop of recipients. The first female multiple GRAMMY winner was jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, who took home two statues: Best Vocal Performance, Female and Best Jazz Performance, Individual. The roster of first-time female GRAMMY winners also included Keely Smith, Salli Terry, Barbara Cook, Pert Kelton, Helen Raymond, and Renata Tebaldi.

Who were the first women to win GRAMMYs in the General Field?

The General Field categories — Record, Song and Album Of The Year and Best New Artist — are among some of the most coveted awards in music. Astrud Gilberto became the first woman to win Record Of The Year when she won with Stan Getz for "The Girl From Ipanema" for 1964. The first Song Of The Year female win went to Carole King for "You've Got A Friend" for 1971. The first female Best New Artist was country singer/songwriter Bobbie Gentry. And the first female winner for Album Of The Year went to Judy Garland for 1961 for Judy At Carnegie Hall.

Carole King: The first woman to win multiple General Field GRAMMYs

The first woman to win multiple GRAMMYs in the General Field was King, when she swept Record ("It's Too Late"), Album (Tapestry) and Song Of The Year ("You've Got A Friend") for 1971. The first women to win multiple GRAMMYs in the same General Field categories include Roberta Flack, who took Record Of The Year for 1972 and 1973, for "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Killing Me Softly With His Song," respectively. Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones and Alison Krauss have each won Album Of The Year twice, but only once in each case for their own recordings. Taylor Swift won Album Of The Year twice for 2009 and 2015, the first woman to do so as a solo artist. At the 59th GRAMMYs, Adele became the second solo female artist to win Album Of The Year twice. Additionally, she became the first artist in GRAMMY history to sweep Record, Song and Album Of The Year twice in her career, after doing so for 2011 and again for 2016.

Beyoncé: The woman with the most GRAMMY wins

At the 63rd GRAMMY Awards in 2021, Beyoncé became the performing artist with the most career GRAMMY wins ever (28) as well as the most nominated woman artist (79). (Quincy Jones also has 28 GRAMMY wins, yet primarily as a producer/composer).

Read: Who Are The Top GRAMMY Awards Winners Of All Time? Who Has The Most GRAMMYs?

Ella Fitzgerald, Wanda Jackson: The first women to perform on the GRAMMYs

The first televised GRAMMY event, a taped "NBC Sunday Showcase," in honor of the 2nd GRAMMY Awards, aired Nov. 29, 1959. It was Fitzgerald's performance on this broadcast that earned her the distinction of being the first woman to take the GRAMMY stage. When the GRAMMYs transitioned to a live television broadcast format for the 13th GRAMMY Awards in 1971, the first solo female performer was country singer Wanda Jackson singing "Wonder Could I Live There Anymore."

Bonnie Raitt: The most GRAMMY performances

Singer/songwriter Bonnie Raitt is the woman who has performed the most at the GRAMMYs. From her first solo performance of "Thing Called Love" at the 32nd GRAMMY Awards in 1990 through her latest performance in honor of B.B. King with Chris Stapleton and Gary Clark Jr. at the 58th GRAMMY Awards, Raitt has graced the stage nine times. In a tie for a close second are Franklin and Whitney Houston, who each notched eight career GRAMMY performances.

Watch: All the GRAMMY performers from the 1960s–1970s

Whoopi Goldberg: The first female GRAMMY host

Whoopi Goldberg served as the GRAMMYs' first female host at the 34th GRAMMY Awards in 1992. An EGOT (Emmy, GRAMMY, Oscar, and Tony) winner, the comedian already had an impressive array of credentials when she helmed the GRAMMY stage. Not one to shy away from pushing the envelope, she delivered arguably one of the raunchiest jokes in GRAMMY history when referencing the show's accounting firm: "I must tell you, Deloitte & Touche are two things I do nightly."

And the first female Special Merit Awards recipients were?

The inaugural Recording Academy Special Merit Award was given in 1963 to Bing Crosby, but it wasn't long until women made their mark. Fitzgerald was the first woman to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1967. The first woman to receive a Trustees Award was Christine M. Farnon in 1992, who served as The Recording Academy's National Executive Director for more than 20 years. Liza Minnelli became the first female artist to receive a GRAMMY Legend Award in 1990.

The first recordings by women to be inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame

Established in 1973 by The Academy's Board of Trustees to honor outstanding recordings that were made before the inception of the GRAMMY Awards, the first female recipients were inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1976. Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" marked the first solo female recording. Gershwin's Porgy & Bess (Opera Version), featuring Camilla Williams, and the original Broadway cast version of "Oklahoma!," featuring Joan Roberts, were inducted into the Hall that same year.

From Abbey Road to "Zip-A-Dee-Doo Dah," view the full list of GRAMMY Hall Of Fame recordings

 

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The GRAMMYs' Trailblazing Women, Part One

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

By Paul Grein

Women have been making history at the GRAMMYs as long as the awards have been presented. In 1958, the first year of the awards, Ella Fitzgerald won two awards: Best Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Jazz Performance, Individual. Opera star Renata Tebaldi and pop singer Keely Smith also took home awards.

Since March is Women's History Month, let's see which women were the first to win in various GRAMMY categories.

These are the first women to win in each current category that has been in place for at least five years. There are 56 categories that meet these criteria, so we're dividing the list in two. Today, we'll look at 26 categories, including Best Comedy Album, Best Music Video and Producer Of The Year, Classical. Tomorrow, we'll look at the remaining 30 categories (including the "big four" awards) as well as the Special Merit Awards.

The fine print: The category names are as they appeared this year. In many cases, the wording has changed over the years. Except in categories that exclusively recognize behind-the-scenes contributions, the focus here is on the first female artists to win. Where the first woman to win shared the prize with a man, we also show the first woman to win on her own.

Best Americana Album
Mavis Staples won the 2010 award for You Are Not Alone.

Best Bluegrass Album
Alison Krauss won the 1990 award for I've Got That Old Feeling.

Best Reggae Album
Sandra "Puma" Jones shared the 1984 award (the first year it was presented) with the male members of Black Uhuru for Anthem.

Best World Music Album
Cesária Évora took the 2003 award for Voz D'Amor.

Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling)
Diane Linkletter won the 1969 award for We Love You, Call Collect, a collaboration with her father, TV personality Art Linkletter. The award was posthumous: Diane Linkletter committed suicide on Oct. 4, 1969, at age 20. Eight years later, actress Julie Harris became the first woman to win on her own for The Belle Of Amherst.

Best Comedy Album
Jo Stafford shared the 1960 award with her husband Paul Weston for Best Comedy Performance (Musical) for their comically off-key Jonathan And Darlene Edwards In Paris, which they released under those alter-egos. Eleven years later, Lily Tomlin became the first woman to win on her own for This Is A Recording.

Best Musical Theater Album
Broadway legends Ethel Merman and Gwen Verdon tied for the 1959 award. Merman won for "Gypsy"; Verdon for "Redhead." Micki Grant was the first woman to win for writing or co-writing a score. She won for 1972's "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope."

Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media
Marilyn Bergman shared the 1974 award for The Way We Were with her husband, Alan Bergman, and Marvin Hamlisch.

Best Song Written For Visual Media
Cynthia Weil shared the 1987 award (the first year it was presented) for "Somewhere Out There" (from An American Tail). Weil co-wrote the ballad with her husband, Barry Mann, and James Horner. Two years later, Carly Simon became the first woman to win on her own for "Let The River Run" (from Working Girl).

Best Instrumental Composition
The late Jean Hancock shared the 1996 award with her brother, Herbie Hancock, for "Manhattan (Island Of Lights And Love)." The award was posthumous: Jean Hancock died in a 1985 plane crash. Maria Schneider was the first woman to win on her own. She took the 2007 award for "Cerulean Skies."

Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)
Joni Mitchell shared the 1974 award with Tom Scott for arranging "Down To You," a track from her GRAMMY Hall Of Fame-inducted album, Court And Spark. Nan Schwartz was the first woman to win on her own. She took the 2008 award for arranging Natalie Cole's recording of the standard "Here's That Rainy Day."

Best Recording Package
Jann Haworth shared the 1967 award with Peter Blake as art directors on the Beatles' landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Janet Perr was the first woman to win on her own. She took the 1984 award as art director on Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual.

Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package
Gail Zappa shared the 1995 award with her late husband, Frank Zappa, as art directors for his Civilization Phaze III. (Frank Zappa died in 1993.) Susan Archie was the first woman to win on her own. She took the 2002 award as art director of Screamin' And Hollerin' The Blues — The Worlds Of Charley Patton.

Best Album Notes
Thulani Davis shared the 1992 award as an album notes writer on Aretha Franklin's Queen Of Soul — The Atlantic Recordings. Her co-winners were Tom Dowd, Ahmet Ertegun, Arif Mardin, Dave Marsh, David Ritz, and Jerry Wexler.

Best Historical Album
Ethel Gabriel shared the 1982 award as a producer of The Tommy Dorsey/Frank Sinatra Sessions — Vols. 1, 2 & 3. Her co-winners were Alan Dell and Don Wardell.

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
Trina Shoemaker shared the 1998 award for engineering Sheryl Crow's The Globe Sessions. Her co-winners were Tchad Blake and Andy Wallace. Eleven years later, Imogen Heap became the first woman to win on her own for engineering her own album, Ellipse.

Best Surround Sound Album
Darcy Proper shared the 2006 award as the surround mastering engineer on Donald Fagen's Morph The Cat. Her co-winners were Fagen and Elliot Scheiner.

Best Engineered Album, Classical
Leslie Ann Jones and Brandie Lane shared the 2010 award for engineering Quincy Porter: Complete Viola Works by Eliesha Nelson and John McLaughlin Williams. Their co-winners were Kory Kruckenberg and David Sabee. (Note: In 1999 Jones became the first female Chair of The Recording Academy's Board of Trustees.)

Producer Of The Year, Classical
Joanna Nickrenz shared the 1983 award with Marc Aubort. Ten years later, Judith Sherman became the first woman to win on her own.

Best Opera Recording
Jeannine Altmeyer, Ortrun Wenkel and Gwyneth Jones shared the 1982 award for their work on "Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen." Their co-winners were conductor Pierre Boulez, Peter Hofmann, Manfred Jung and Heinz Zednick.

Best Choral Performance
Margaret Hillis shared the 1977 award as choral director of "Verdi: Requiem" by the Chicago Symphony Chorus. Her co-winner was conductor Georg Solti.

Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
Anne-Sophie Mutter shared the 1999 award with Lambert Orkis for "Beethoven: The Violin Sonatas."

Best Classical Vocal Solo
Soprano Renata Tebaldi took the 1958 award (the first year of the GRAMMYs) for "Operatic Recital."

Best Contemporary Classical Composition
Joan Tower took the 2007 award for composing "Made In America," recorded by Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony.

Best Music Video/Best Music Film
Olivia Newton-John won the 1982 award for Video Of The Year for Olivia Physical, a 13-song video album. Today, that would fall into the Best Music Film category. Paula Abdul won the 1990 award for Best Music Video — Short Form for "Opposites Attract." Today, that would fall into the Best Music Video category.

And that's just half of the list. Come back tomorrow for part two, which will feature such stars as Judy Garland, Carole King, Madonna, Shakira, and Patti LaBelle.

(Paul Grein, a veteran music journalist and historian, writes regularly for Yahoo Music.)

Sheléa To Honor Tina Turner On "GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends"

Sheléa

Photo: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

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Sheléa To Honor Tina Turner On "GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends"

Sheléa cooks up a special Tina Turner medley for the Recording Academy's 2018 Special Merit Awards recipient tribute concert that will air on PBS on Oct. 5

GRAMMYs/Sep 27, 2018 - 05:12 am

Tina Turner is an often-imitated, never-duplicated performer. Her energy and voice make her unique, but her electrifying command of the stage and stacked back catalog of hits make her a true legend. Turner's delivery of songs such as "What's Love Got To Do With It," "Proud Mary," and "Simply The Best," set a new bar for what a show-stopping performer can do.

On the upcoming broadcast of "GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends," an electrifying singer in her own right, Sheléa will honor Turner with a special medley performance of some of the legend's most enduring songs.

"She's so strong – and not trying to be strong, just innately strong," Sheléa said. "I love that strength and resilience, not only in her personal life but in her voice."

Watch the performance during the special tribute concert that will air on PBS at 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5 (check your local listings) and will be available to stream starting the next day via pbs.org/gperf.

"GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends" To Air On PBS Oct. 5