Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
5 Amazing Moments From "Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration"
Produced by Ken Ehrlich Productions in conjunction with The Recording Academy, the three-hour tribute concert featured an array of performers from Smokey Robinson, Pentatonix, NE-YO, Diana Ross, John Legend, Fantasia, Chloe X Halle, and more
Filmed in Feb. and broadcast on April 21 on CBS, "Motown 60: A GRAMMY Celebration" impressed, captivated, and inspired audiences with a full slate of performers and presenters who were there to commemorate the anniversary of the storied Detroit-based and internationally acclaimed black-owned record label. Produced by Ken Ehrlich Productions in conjunction with The Recording Academy, the three-hour tribute concert featured an array of performers from Smokey Robinson, Pentatonix, NE-YO, Diana Ross, John Legend, Fantasia, Chloe X Halle, Meghan Trainor, Tori Kelly, Thelma Houston, Stevie Wonder and others. "Motown brought people together who didn't realize they had so much in common," famed Motown Records exec Berry Gordy said before noting that he initially had a vision in the beginning to make "music for all people." The stacked lineup of enthusiastic artists and a high energetic crowd signaled that his vision had indeed come to fruition.
Just in case you missed the celebration (or if you want some highlights from the "Motown 60" experience), here are five amazing moments from the show:
1. Diana Ross Serenaded Berry Gordy
The legendary diva may have celebrated her 75th birthday this year, but she didn't miss a beat engaging with the crowd with stirring and pitch-perfect vocals.
One highlight of the show included Ross having a special moment with Gordy at the end of her set, singing a rendition of "My Man" personally for him while saying, "Thank you for all you have done for my life. You are a gift to all of us."
2. Commemorating Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On"
Another great part of the show included a segment celebrating the music of Marvin Gaye and how its material moved into the political sphere with his What's Going On album. Smokey Robinson himself commented how at the time Gaye told him he was "collaborating with God," while Gordy admitted his hesitation in Gaye making potentially polarizing music under the Motown brand. Nevertheless, Gordy relented, noting: "The value of what [Gaye] was writing was so artistic."
3. Ciara Brought Out Her Inner "Superfreak"
GRAMMY-winning artist Ciara paid tribute to '80s pop icon Rick James with a riveting performance of "Superfreak." Decked out in his signature beaded braids hairstyle and a tight jumpsuit, the singer delivered a flawless set with dancers in the background. Known for her entertaining performances, Ciara also performed James' classic "Give it to Me Baby."
4. Cedric the Entertainer, The Host With The Most
Cedric the Entertainer kept the crowd entertained with various skits projected on the screen throughout intermissions of the show. One hilarious part of his hosting duties was a segment titled "The First Four Bars," where audience members were challenged to name popular songs from Motown from the first four bars of the piece. Notable records like "My Girl" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" made for an amusing part in the show where dynamic and fun guests played the game.
5. Stevie Wonder's Grand Finale
Stevie Wonder brought the house down with a mini-concert of some of his hits, as well as anecdotes of his time spent at Motown and how Gordy changed his life by believing in him as a child.
Highlights in the performance included renditions of "Master Blaster (Jammin)," "My Cherie Amour" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours."
In all, Wonder's set can be wrapped up in one sentence, spoken by an audience member attending the show's Feb. taping: "Stevie Wonder playing 'Isn't She Lovely' on a harmonica was something I never knew I needed."
Whitney Houston, 29th GRAMMY Awards
Apple Music Exclusive: Watch Classic GRAMMY Performances
The Recording Academy teams with Apple Music to offer historical GRAMMY performances by Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye, Whitney Houston, Shania Twain, Kendrick Lamar, and more
To celebrate the GRAMMY Awards' 60th anniversary and the show's return to New York for the first time in 15 years, the Recording Academy and Apple Music are bringing fans a special video collection of exclusive GRAMMY performances and playlists that represent the illustrious history of Music's Biggest Night.
Available exclusively via Apple Music in a dedicated GRAMMYs section, the celebratory collection features 60-plus memorable performances specifically curated across six genres: pop, rap, country, rock, R&B, and jazz.
The artist performances featured in the collection include Marvin Gaye, "Sexual Healing" (25th GRAMMY Awards, 1983); Whitney Houston, "Greatest Love Of All" (29th GRAMMY Awards, 1987); Run DMC, "Tougher Than Leather" (30th GRAMMY Awards, 1988); Miles Davis, "Hannibal" (32nd GRAMMY Awards, 1990); Shania Twain, "Man, I Feel Like A Woman" (41st GRAMMY Awards, 1999); Dixie Chicks, "Landslide" (45th GRAMMY Awards, 2003); Bruno Mars and Sting, "Locked Out Of Heaven" and "Walking On The Moon" (55th GRAMMY Awards, 2013); and Kendrick Lamar, "The Blacker The Berry" (58th GRAMMY Awards, 2016).
The 60th GRAMMY Awards will take place at New York City's Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. The telecast will be broadcast live on CBS at 7:30–11 p.m. ET/4:30–8 p.m. PT.
Carrie Underwood, John Legend To Host "GRAMMYs Greatest Stories"
Photo: Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images
Fight The Power: 11 Powerful Protest Songs Advocating For Racial Justice
From Childish Gambino's "This Is America" to James Brown's "Say It Loud," these racial justice protest anthems demonstrate the ongoing—and still deeply relevant—sound of activism
From the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to the streets of Ferguson, activism certainly has a sound. Whether it’s the slow hum of Pete Seeger's "We Shall Overcome" or the energetic repetition of YG’s "FTP," when the chants of freedom slow, we often hear an emotional outcry about political issues through music. The current state of unrest in the United States surrounding the violent treatment of Black people and people of color at the hands of police has caused a resurgence of music addressing the current state of affairs directly in lyrics and tone.
As we celebrate Juneteenth (not to mention Black Music Month), a date that signifies liberation for African American people as Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, TX that the enslaved people there were free in 1865, we have to recognize the importance of music when it comes to freedom, protest, survival and celebration in Black culture.
Music has always been deeply rooted in African culture. It only continued after men and women were captured and enslaved in the U.S through the Middle Passage. For slaves, it was a form of communication and later became so much more. That tradition of music has continued over centuries as each new movement—specifically involving the fight for self-love, equality, and fair treatment for Black Americans—creates its own soundtrack.
2020 will see its own host of songs that highlight the times, from Meek Mill’s "The Otherside of America" to H.E.R.'s "I Can’t Breathe," which she recently premiered in her performance for IHeartRadio’s Living Room Concert Series. But before this moment, there were a few of the songs that have been at the center of protest, revolution, and radical political change over the years.
"Say It Loud," James Brown (1968)
Being proud to be Black was almost a foreign concept commercially during this time and James Brown took the lead on empowering Black people all across the world. "Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud," became an affirmation recited far and wide specifically in such a turbulent year as 1968. This was at the height of the Civil Rights movement and the same year Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
"Comment #1," Gil Scott-Heron (1970)
A poem featured on his debut album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, Heron was challenging the white left-wing student movement. In his estimation, there was no common ground based on what Black people had endured for centuries that college-educated students from the suburbs would understand. The song was later sampled by Kanye West in "Lost In The World" featuring Bon Iver.
"What’s Going On," Marvin Gaye (1971)
Based on the real-life experience of Gaye’s brother who returned from Vietnam with a much different outlook on life, this song asked what was happening in America. This was a turbulent time where Black soldiers were not receiving the same benefits as their white GI counterparts when returning home from the same fight. And much like Scott-Heron, Gaye was exploring the hippie era clash that, to many Black people, didn’t have a real grasp on poverty and systematic racism plaguing the community.
"Fk Tha Police," N.W.A. (1988)
A song met with much discourse including the arrest of N.W.A. members in Detroit during a 1989 tour stop. The group was apprehended following their show after being told by the DPD not to play the song in their set. Unfortunately, not much has changed and streams have skyrocketed amidst global protests for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor more than 20 years later
"Fight The Power," Public Enemy (1989)
The song originally appeared in Spike Lee's "Do The Right" thing, which explored racial tension in a Brooklyn neighborhood and would become Public Enemy’s most popular song to date. Later released on their album Fear of a Black Planet, the song was received with high acclaim including a GRAMMY nomination for Best Rap Performance.
"Changes," 2Pac featuring Talent (1998)
2Pac was seen as both an activist and a young man wise beyond his years, though his career was also marred by controversy and rap beefs. Songs like "Changes" are more representative of the former. Here, Pac was chronicling the fact that things have been the same in Black communities over the years. When listening back, you can hear how poignant his words were over 20 years later.
"Glory," John Legend and Common (2014)
The Oscar-winning song from the original motion picture soundtrack to "Selma" directed by Ava Duvernay came at the epicenter of the country’s most recent unrest. Two years after the death of Trayvon Martin, the song was the perfect bridge from the Civil Rights movement of the '60s depicted in the film into today's current fight for equality.
"Alright," Kendrick Lamar (2015)
To Pimp a Butterfly, Lamar’s sophomore release, was a sharp contrast to the cinematic good kid, m.A.A.d. City but yielded the freedom song of a generation. Crowds at protests and university auditoriums across the country erupted into the song's potent lyrics, "But if God got us then we gon be alright!" The GRAMMY-winning song became the unofficial anthem to the Black Lives Matter movement after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mich., and Sandra Bland in Waller County, TX at the hands of police.
"F.U.B.U.," Solange (2016)
A nod to the 90s hip hop apparel company, the acronym stands for For Us, By Us. The song appeared on her third studio album A Seat at the Table, her most critically acclaimed and political album to date. Both the song and album highlight Black entrepreneurship, culture, and trauma.
"Freedom," Beyoncé ft. Kendrick Lamar (2016)
This hard-hitting track samples "Let Me Try" by Frank Tirado and comes as a reprieve in the album sequencing but packs a powerful message. The ending also features audio from Jay-Z’s grandmother Hattie White. At her 90th birthday party she explains, "I was served lemons, but I made lemonade"—apropos in the discussion of the American Black experience.
"This is America," Childish Gambino (2018)
Accompanied by a captivating visual directed by Hiro Murai that paired dancing with African influence, and violent yet thought-provoking imagery, Gambino's effort made everyone pay attention. The song garnered the multi-disciplined artist a GRAMMY for "Song Of The Year," and his first No. 1 single while leaving both critics and fans alike in deep conversations about its political symbolism.
More Stars To Honor Barbra Streisand
Jeff Beck, LeAnn Rimes, Seal, and BeBe Winans added to performance lineup for GRAMMY Week MusiCares Person of the Year tribute
(For a complete list of 53rd GRAMMY Awards nominees, click here.)
Current GRAMMY nominees Jeff Beck and LeAnn Rimes, and GRAMMY winners Seal and BeBe Winans are the latest performers announced for the 2011 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute to Barbra Streisand, to be held during GRAMMY Week on Feb. 11 in Los Angeles. They join previously announced performers Tony Bennett; singer/actress Kristin Chenoweth; GRAMMY-nominated "Glee" cast members Darren Criss, Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison; Herbie Hancock; Diana Krall; Barry Manilow; Donna Summer; Stevie Wonder; and singer Nikki Yanofsky. Streisand, an eight-time GRAMMY-winning artist and current nominee, will close the evening with her own special performance. Additional performers will be announced soon.
Proceeds from the annual Person of the Year tribute, now in its 21st year, provide essential support for MusiCares.
The event, a private charity fundraiser, is attended by industry VIPs and others who help support the work of The Recording Academy-affiliated MusiCares Foundation, which offers programs and services to members of the music community, including emergency financial assistance. The MusiCares MAP Fund provides access to addiction recovery treatment and sober living resources for members of the music community regardless of their financial circumstances, and MusiCares Safe Harbor Rooms offer a support network to those in recovery while they are participating in the production of televised music shows, such as the GRAMMY Awards, and other major music events.
The MusiCares Person of the Year tribute is one of the most prestigious events held during GRAMMY Week. The celebration culminates with the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Feb. 13 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The telecast will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/PT. For information on purchasing tables and tickets to the event, please contact Dana Tomarken at 310.392.3777.
Past MusiCares Person of the Year honorees include Tony Bennett, Bono, Natalie Cole, Phil Collins, David Crosby, Neil Diamond, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Don Henley, Billy Joel, Elton John, Quincy Jones, Luciano Pavarotti, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Simon, Sting, James Taylor, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, and Neil Young.
What record does Stevie Wonder share with Frank Sinatra?
Find out which record the 25-time GRAMMY winner shares with the Chairman of the Board
Stevie Wonder is tied with Frank Sinatra as the solo artist with the most GRAMMY wins for Album Of The Year with three. Wonder won for Innversisions (1973), Fulfillingness' First Finale (1974) and Songs In The Key Of Life (1976).