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Can't Cancel Pride: Billy Porter, Big Freedia, Ricky Martin, Kim Petras, Sia & More Tapped For iHeartRadio Livestream

Billy Porter at the 2020 GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

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Can't Cancel Pride: Billy Porter, Big Freedia, Ricky Martin, Kim Petras, Sia & More Tapped For iHeartRadio Livestream

Airing on Thurs., June 25, the star-studded LGBTQ+ Pride special will also feature Adam Lambert, Melissa Etheridge, Katy Perry and more, co-hosted by the one and only Laverne Cox, with Z100's Elvis Duran

GRAMMYs/Jun 17, 2020 - 12:53 am

On Thurs., June 25, Billy Porter, Big Freedia, Ricky Martin, Kim Petras, Melissa Etheridge, Adam Lambert and more LGBTQ+ icons will celebrate Pride 2020 during a special livestream for a good cause.

Can't Cancel Pride: Helping LGBTQ+ People In Need, produced by iHeartMedia and Procter & Gamble, will fit a whole lot of fierceness into one hour, with the help from trans actor/activist Laverne Cox and Z100's Elvis Duran, who will co-host.

More Pride: Songwriter Justin Tranter On Pride Anthems, Protesting & Pop Superstardom

Katy Perry and Sia are also slated to join the event, as well as more surprise guests.

"The COVID-19 pandemic combined with the fight for racial justice have exposed the complex and significant obstacles marginalized communities face," Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of Procter & Gamble, said in a statement. "We must continue to speak up against hate and intolerance in all its forms and redouble our work to create substantive and meaningful change in our communities. One way we are doing that for the LGBTQ+ community is through this event by showing them they're not alone, even when stay-at-home orders have closed community centers and support systems that millions of LGBTQ+ people rely on every day."

Read: Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry, Ne-Yo, Saweetie & More To Play Rock The Vote Livestream

"There's no question COVID-19 has impacted the LGBTQ+ community in a variety of ways, and at this time in the U.S., the struggle for equality and inclusion has never been more important," iHeartMedia Chief Marketing Officer Gayle Troberman added. "Now is a time we need to come together to support the organizations that help bring critical resources to LGBTQ people in need and Can't Cancel Pride aims to do just that. Like always, Pride will continue to represent the resilience, beauty and strength of the LGBTQ+ community around the nation and the globe."

In addition to many corporate sponsors, iHeartMedia has partnered with non-profit the "Greater Cincinnati Foundation to distribute financial support raised by the event to LGBTQ+ organizations with a track record of positive impact and support of the LGBTQ+ community, including the National Black Justice Coalition, GLAAD, SAGE, The Trevor Project, CenterLink and OutRight Action International."

Can't Cancel Pride will air on Thurs., June 25 at 9:00 pm local time via iHeartRadio's Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, PrideRadio.com, iHeartMedia radio stations and on the iHeartRadio app June 25 at 9 p.m. local time. For more info, including on how to donate, visit the event's website.

Freedom For My Body, Freedom For My Mind: The 'Panther' Theme Song Turns 25

2023 GRAMMYs Performers Announced: Bad Bunny, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Steve Lacy, Mary J. Blige & More Confirmed
(Clockwise, L-R): Bad Bunny, Kim Petras, Sam Smith, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Brandi Carlile, Lizzo, Mary J. Blige

Photos Courtesy of the Artists

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2023 GRAMMYs Performers Announced: Bad Bunny, Lizzo, Sam Smith, Steve Lacy, Mary J. Blige & More Confirmed

The first wave of 2023 GRAMMYs performers has been announced: Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Lizzo, Kim Petras, and Sam Smith. Catch them all on Sunday, Feb. 5, on CBS, Paramount+, and live.GRAMMY.com!

GRAMMYs/Jan 25, 2023 - 03:00 pm

(Editor’s note: since this post’s publication, Harry Styles has been added as a performer, and Questlove announced he is co-curating the Hip-Hop 50 tribute performance at the 2023 GRAMMYs.)

We all knew Music's Biggest Night would be explosive this year. Now, GRAMMY night just got bigger! The first round of performers for the 2023 GRAMMYs has been announced. Taking the GRAMMY stage will be current nominees Bad Bunny, Mary J. Blige, Brandi Carlile, Luke Combs, Steve Lacy, Lizzo, Kim Petras, and Sam Smith.

Live from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles and hosted by Trevor Noah, the 2023 GRAMMYs will be broadcast live on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on the CBS Television Network and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

Prior to the Telecast, the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony will be broadcast live from the Microsoft Theater at 12:30 p.m. PT and will be streamed live on live.GRAMMY.com. Additional performers will be announced in the coming days.

On GRAMMY Sunday, fans can access exclusive, behind-the-scenes GRAMMYs content, including performances, acceptance speeches, interviews from the GRAMMY Live red-carpet special, and more via the Recording Academy's digital experience on live.GRAMMY.com.

Read More: Where, What Channel & How To Watch The Full 2023 GRAMMYs

Learn more about the 2023 GRAMMYs performers and host here and below:

Two-time GRAMMY winner Bad Bunny is up for three GRAMMY nominations: Album Of The Year (Un Verano Sin Ti), Best Pop Solo Performance ("Moscow Mule") and Best Música Urbana Album (Un Verano Sin Ti).

Nine-time GRAMMY winner Mary J. Blige is nominated for six GRAMMY Awards: Record Of The Year ("Good Morning Gorgeous"), Album Of The Year (Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)), Best R&B Performance ("Here With Me"), Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Good Morning Gorgeous"), Best R&B Song ("Good Morning Gorgeous"), and Best R&B Album (Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe)).  

Six-time GRAMMY winner Brandi Carlile is nominated for seven GRAMMY Awards this year: Record Of The Year ("You And Me On The Rock"), Album Of The Year (In These Silent Days), Best Rock Performance ("Broken Horses"), Best Rock Song ("Broken Horses"), Best Americana Performance ("You And Me On The Rock"), Best American Roots Song ("You And Me On The Rock"), and Best Americana Album (In These Silent Days). 

Listen Now: The Official 2023 GRAMMYs Playlist Is Here: Listen To 115 Songs By Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar & More

Luke Combs is up for three GRAMMY nominations: Best Country Duo/Group Performance ("Outrunnin' Your Memory"), Best Country Song ("Doin' This") and Best Country Album (Growin' Up). 

Steve Lacy is up for four GRAMMY nominations: Record Of The Year ("Bad Habit"), Song Of The Year ("Bad Habit"), Best Pop Solo Performance ("Bad Habit"), and Best Progressive R&B Album (Gemini Rights). 

Read More: A Look At The Nominees For Album Of The Year At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

Three-time GRAMMY winner Lizzo is nominated for five GRAMMY Awards: Record Of The Year ("About Damn Time"), Album Of The Year (Special), Song Of The Year ("About Damn Time"), Best Pop Solo Performance ("About Damn Time"), and Best Pop Vocal Album (Special).

First-time nominee Kim Petras is up for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance ("Unholy").

Four-time GRAMMY winner Sam Smith is nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance ("Unholy").

Keep checking back here on GRAMMY.com for more details on the 2023 GRAMMYs — and tune in on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT to watch who takes home GRAMMY gold. And head to live.GRAMMY.com for a dynamic and expansive online experience where you can explore Music's Biggest Night in full.

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List

Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Kim Petras On How "Lady Marmalade" Inspired "Unholy" & Why She'll Always "F—ing Love Vulgar Music"
Kim Petras

Photo: Jason Al-Taan

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Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Kim Petras On How "Lady Marmalade" Inspired "Unholy" & Why She'll Always "F—ing Love Vulgar Music"

In the last five years, Kim Petras has made a name for herself as a brash pop princess unafraid to flirt with the profane. But in the wake of her hit single "Unholy," the trans artist is ready to unleash her brand of subversive sass on the world.

GRAMMYs/Jan 20, 2023 - 03:53 pm

When Kim Petras delivered her debut single in 2017, she stomped into the spotlight with a single, bratty demand: "Give me all of your attention." And in the five years since, she has commanded it expertly.

Thanks to the provocative pop pastiche and irrepressible confidence displayed on bubblegum-laced favorites like "Heart to Break," "Hillside Boys" and "Can't Do Better," the German pop princess has cultivated a loyal pack of primarily LGBTQ+ fans — known as Bunheads — and become a fixture of constant fascination in indie pop circles. Then came "Unholy," the Sam Smith collaboration that launched her into the mainstream pop stratosphere. 

With help from a ghastly backing choir and a slinky industrial beat, the song finds the two stars weaving a scintillating tale of deceit and infidelity ("Mummy don't know daddy's getting hot at the body shop," Smith intones on the sing-song refrain).  Not only did the debaucherous collab become a global smash, it notched Petras her very first nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 2023 GRAMMY Awards.

As "Unholy" rocketed to the top of the charts around the globe, the song proved to be the embodiment of Petras' potential as a 21st century pop star — one who arrived with a fully formed point of view, a boundary-breaking identity as a proud trans woman and razor-sharp songwriting chops to boot. ("Unholy" also helped Petras and Smith make history, as the pair became the first publicly trans and nonbinary artists, respectively, to clinch a No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.)

The mammoth success of "Unholy" capped off a momentous 12 months for Petras that was filled with both highs and lows. Months after releasing fan-favorite and unabashedly hypersexual EP Slut Pop in February 2022, she was forced to scrap her major-label debut — reportedly titled Problématique — after the bulk of the album leaked online. But as "Unholy" continues to display its undeniable staying power (it's holding strong at No. 3 on the Hot 100 nearly four months after its release, as of press time) Petras is looking forward to a bright future — and it starts now. 

Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMY Awards — and the release of her latest single, "brrr" — GRAMMY.com caught up with Petras about her triumphant year, honoring the trans music pioneers who came before her, and her no-holds-barred advice for her doubters and detractors.

What does it mean to you to be a GRAMMY nominee?

I think it's incredible to get recognized from something as prestigious as [the GRAMMYs]. I honestly didn't think that that would ever happen for me because I'm such a bubblegum pop girl, and I don't really feel like that's usually something the GRAMMYs go for, you know? I think it's rare. 

Sam is so incredible. For any other song, I would've been like, "Yeah, Sam's gonna get nominated." But we made a slutty song about cheating [Laughs]. So it's awesome and it's a cherry on top for it being my first kind of mainstream moment. I'm super grateful to Sam for having me on the song and for having that vision.

Did you talk to Sam right after finding out about your nomination?

Yeah! We texted pretty much right away. I think Sam was in London but yeah, it was wild. 

You're now part of a line of trans artists in GRAMMY history, including pioneers like Wendy Carlos and Jackie Shane, as well as SOPHIE and Honey Dijon — who also received her very first nomination this year.

So incredible. Like, so overdue.

What does it mean to you to be part of the legacy?

I'm proud. There's been trans women in music for a long time that I looked up to growing up. I mean, if you go all the way back, there was Amanda Lear in, like, the '70s having giant disco, Euro hits and people didn't even know she was trans. I just feel like they've all kind of been overlooked a lot, and never really got what they deserved regarding their influence. 

I'm so proud to have known and to have worked with SOPHIE, someone who I think is a pioneer in sound. Even "Unholy," you can hear SOPHIE's influence in that. I'm certainly forever influenced by SOPHIE's work. And I know that all kinds of producers are as well, and that SOPHIE always comes up as a reference for so many people. It's cool to be in the same category as those artists that I really look up to.

You collaborated with SOPHIE on your single "1,2,3 dayz up" in 2019, which was the same year she was GRAMMY nominated for Best Dance/Electronic Album for Oil of Every Pearl Un-Insides. Did she give you any career advice at the time? Do you have a favorite memory of working with her? 

I definitely learned a lot in the studio from SOPHIE — as in being authentic is the most important thing and the most brave thing you can do. It just came so easy to SOPHIE to want music to be an authentic expression rather than chasing something; chasing mainstream, chasing being relatable, chasing any of these things just never occurred to SOPHIE. 

That's something that inspires me deeply, because I feel like I've spent the beginning of my career just trying to fit in, trying to not stick out in these rooms. I mean, in songwriting sessions, it's mostly guys…I feel like I've spent so much time kind of not wanting to offend anyone and not letting my opinions be that known. And not sticking up for my ideas in the beginning….I always think about SOPHIE and just how dead set she was in [saying], "No. It has to be this lyric, it has to be this way. That's it." That attitude inspires me still.

And not wanting to stick out or offend anyone, I'm sure, is how you came up with a project like Slut Pop. 

Oh yeah! That's the thing — I feel like it's so crazy how much the world has kind of changed in what people relate to. I grew up listening to the dirtiest s—. I listened to Ayesha Erotica so much — to Peaches, to, like, Amanda Lepore's quick dip into music. I definitely come from that, and being born and raised in Germany and rave culture and techno music. Slut Pop was just always something I've wanted to do but didn't really have the nerve to do. And I'm so happy I did it.

This year, it's been crazy, because I feel like Slut Pop in the beginning was very dragged by everyone as like, "Agh, she just repeats the words over and over and blah!" But, like, that's rave music, that's dance music. That's what I was inspired by. And I feel like it's gotten this hardcore fan base now that really gets it. 

It appeared on a bunch of lists of best EPs of the last year, and that really surprised me, because I thought that everyone just kind of s— on that record as being vulgar. And I'm fine with that. It is vulgar, you know? That's what it's supposed to be and I'm proud of that. I f—ing love vulgar music, so suck it. [Laughs.]

So getting back to "Unholy" — it's obviously given you so many career firsts: your first entry on the Billboard Hot 100, your first worldwide No. 1, your first platinum record, and now your first GRAMMY nomination...

It's so crazy, man!

What is it about the song that you think has made it connect with people so much and turned it into such a hit?

I just think it's a good song. ILYA absolutely crushed the production. And I just think this kind of dirty Berghain vibe of the song is something that isn't around that much. I think it should be.

I remember hearing "Unholy" for the first time and thinking, "This is giving me the reaction that I had when I first heard 'Lady Marmalade' with Christina Aguilera and P!nk and Mya and Lil' Kim." It gave me that energy, and I remember seeing that video for the first time as a kid and just being like…"I think I want to be a prostitute after listening to this." 

Honestly, that's such a cool reaction to me because, like, your parents don't want you to listen to it and they're like, 'No! It's dirty music!" And you're, like, behind-their-backs listening to it, and that made it so much more special. And we needed that kind of feeling, but with a LGBTQ cast, and I feel like that's what we've kind of done. I can't believe it worked out. I'm just like, "Like, what?"

How did your verse on "Unholy" come together in the studio?

Well, everyone was kind of set on it being the same melody as Sam's verse, being the [sings] "Lucky, lucky girl..." And they had some lyrics prepared and kinda had their idea already of what I was supposed to do. And it honestly just didn't feel like me; it felt like what everyone else would do.

Sam really stood up for me and was like, "No, she has to talk about designer s— and being a sugar baby, and doing her Kim Petras s—. That's why she's here, let's not make her into something she's not." 

And then I remember Max Martin telling me [while we were working on "If Jesus Was A Rockstar"] that the ["Unholy"] verse was exactly what the song needed. That was a huge, huge compliment for me as a writer. So I'm grateful that Sam really stuck up for me — and, you know, likes my slutty bars.

When I first heard it, your verse really felt like "I Don't Want It At All" 2.0 with all the designer name-dropping and other references. Were you thinking of that in the studio?

That's kind of the thing with me — I just turn into a brat on songs [Laughs]. That's just always been like my thing that I love doing. And with "Unholy," I mean, it is about someone cheating. And as a trans girl, I feel like a lot of guys don't necessarily take me seriously. Or want to, like, marry me but they want to f— me and buy me s—. So I like to play with that [idea] and see that as a mirror, like, holding it back into your face — what you think of me and what you think I'm here for. So yeah, that was my intention with it. And it does tie into the "I Don't Want It At All" bratty stage persona that I love and hold very dear.

You mentioned Max Martin. Since "Unholy," you've also released "If Jesus Was A Rockstar," which was your first time working with him. What did you learn from that experience?

I learned that I'm, as a writer, good enough to be in the room with anyone. And be in the room with my biggest heroes. I think that just made me feel really validated. And it was cool that even as big as Max Martin is, he just loves to collaborate with people and see what you want to do and what you want to offer. 

I think there's often this kind of fake narrative that you go in with big producers and they just give you a song. And I wish it was that way — like, that'd be fire, you know? And maybe for some people it is like that. I've been a writer for other people, and I definitely know that there are artists out there who don't write s—. And, like, that's cool, it's awesome, you have other talents like dancing and being hot. But I love writing and singing, and no matter who I work with, I still write my s—. I collaborate with people, but at the end of the day, I'm a writer and I'm proud of that…But it was cool, I really got to be a fan and Max even did some background vocals.

So in the spirit of "Unholy," who would you say were your holy trinity of pop divas growing up? 

Cher. Diana Ross, love Diana Ross. And Madonna. Yeah, and honestly [they will] remain my holy trinity.

What about those three informed the way you approached pop and becoming an artist?

Their ability to be more than a gender, or a person, or a skin color, or a box. They're larger than life, all of them. And they are these kind of escapist figures. Like, maybe you can live your life however you want to and that's OK. You can be glamorous or hypersexual or Cher on a boat with eight half-naked sailors. You can be whatever you want! And I think that's such a powerful thing about them. 

What's next for you? Does "If Jesus Was a Rockstar" point to the direction fans can expect from your new music?

No. It's really the only song that sounds like this on the [new] album. It's like a misleading little thing.

I would say that [with] the album, every song is its own world sonically, and that fits in with the conceptual context of the album pretty well. I just said "conceptual context" and I feel so smart now, for no reason. 

I don't want to give away too much, because I've done this before — I've spoken about an album so much and then it leaked and then it got scrapped. I'm scared of that. So, not gonna happen this time. We're protected. [Laughs]. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. 

I miss my fans. I miss giving my fans full projects that aren't just songs. And most of all, I miss touring and performing. It's time for Miss Album.

The Official 2023 GRAMMYs Playlist Is Here: Listen To 140 Songs By Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar & More

Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: New Year, It’s Poppin'! Monthly Member Playlist

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Press Play On GRAMMY U Mixtape: New Year, It’s Poppin'! Monthly Member Playlist

The GRAMMY U Mixtape is a monthly, genre-spanning playlist to quench your thirst for new tunes, all from student members. GRAMMY U celebrates new beginnings with fresh pop tunes that will kickstart 2023.

GRAMMYs/Jan 6, 2023 - 12:17 am

Did you know that among all of the students in GRAMMY U, songwriting and performance is one of the most sought after fields of study? We want to create a space to hear what these students are creating today!

The GRAMMY U Mixtape, now available for your listening pleasure, highlights the creations and fresh ideas that students are bringing to this industry directly on the Recording Academy's Spotify and Apple Music pages. Our goal is to celebrate GRAMMY U members, as well as the time and effort they put into making original music — from the songwriting process to the final production of the track.

Each month, we accept submissions and feature 20 to 25 songs that match that month’s theme. This month we're ringing in 2023 with our New Year, It's Poppin'! playlist, which features fresh pop songs that bring new year, new you vibes. Showcasing talented members from our various chapters, we felt these songs represented the positivity and hopefulness that GRAMMY U members embody as they tackle this upcoming year of exciting possibilities.

So, what’s stopping you? Press play on GRAMMY U’s Mixtape and listen now on Spotify below and Apple Music.

Want to be featured on the next playlist? Submit your songs today! We are currently accepting submissions for songs of all genres for consideration for our February playlist. Whether you write pop, rock, hip hop, jazz, or classical, we want to hear from you. Music must be written and/or produced by the student member (an original song) and you must be able to submit a Spotify and/or Apple Music link to the song. Students must be a GRAMMY U member to submit.

About GRAMMY U:

GRAMMY U is a program that connects college students with the industry's brightest and most talented minds and provides those aspiring professionals with the tools and opportunities necessary to start a career in music.     

Throughout each semester, events and special programs touch on all facets of the industry, including the business, technology, and the creative process.

As part of the Recording Academy's mission to ensure the recorded arts remain a thriving part of our shared cultural heritage, GRAMMY U establishes the necessary foundation for music’s next generation to flourish.

Not a member, but want to submit to our playlist? Apply for GRAMMY U Membership here.

8 Highlights From "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute To The Songs Of Paul Simon"
Paul Simon with Take 6

Photo: Getty Images for the Recording Academy

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8 Highlights From "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute To The Songs Of Paul Simon"

Paul Simon's GRAMMYs bash included moments of vulnerability, generation-straddling duets and plenty of other surprises. Stream it on demand on Paramount+ and read on for eight highlights.

GRAMMYs/Dec 22, 2022 - 03:51 pm

Many tribute shows for legacy artists end in a plume of confetti and a feel-good singalong. But not Paul Simon's.

At the end of the songbook-spanning "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Tribute To Paul Simon," the only person on the darkened stage was the man of the hour. Sure, the audience had been baby-driven through the Simon and Garfunkel years, into the solo wilderness, through Graceland, and so forth. But all these roads led to darkness.

Because Simon then played the song that he wrote alone, in a bathroom, after JFK was shot.

It doesn't matter that Simon always ends gigs with "The Sound of Silence." After this commensurately cuddly and incisive tribute show, it was bracing to watch him render his entire career an ouroboros. 

That "The Sound of Silence" felt like such a fitting cap to a night of jubilation speaks to Simon's multitudes. The Jonas Brothers coolly gliding through "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," juxtaposed with the ache of Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood's "The Boxer," rubbing up against Dave Matthews getting goofy and kinetic with "You Can Call Me Al," and so on and so forth.

The intoxicating jumble of emotions onstage at "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Tribute To Paul Simon" did justice to his songbook's emotional landscape — sometimes smooth, other times turbulent, defined by distance and longing as much as intimacy and fraternity.

Here were eight highlights from the telecast on Dec. 21 — which you can watch on demand on Paramount+ now.

Read More: Watch Jonas Brothers, Brad Paisley, Billy Porter, Shaggy & More Discuss The Legacy And Impact Of Paul Simon Backstage At "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute To Paul Simon"

Woody Harrelson's Lovably Bumbling Speech

After Brad Paisley's rollicking opening with "Kodachrome," the momentum cheekily ground to a halt as Harrelson dove into a rambling, weirdly moving monologue.

"The songs of Paul Simon really are like old friends," the cowboy-hatted "The Hunger Games" star remarked, interpolating one of his song titles and crooning the opening verse.

Harrelson went on to recount a melancholic story from college, where the spiritually unmoored future star clung to Simon songs like a liferaft. We can all relate, Woody.

Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood's Pitch-Perfect "The Boxer"

Brooks has always been one of the most humble megastars in the business, praising his wife Trisha Yearwood — and his forebears — a country mile more than his own. (Speaking to GRAMMY.com, he described being "married to somebody 10 times more talented than you.")

The crack ensemble could have made "The Boxer" into a spectacle and gotten away with it, but Brooks wisely demurred.

Instead, the pair stripped down the proceedings to guitar and two voices; Brooks provided an aching counterpoint to Yearwood.

Billy Porter's Heart-Rending "Loves Me Like A Rock"

The "Pose" star blew the roof off of Joni Mitchell's MusiCares Person Of The Year gala in 2022 with "Both Sides Now," so it was clear he would bring napalm for a Simon party. 

Given the gospel-ish intro, one would think he was about to destroy the universe with "Bridge Over Troubled Water." 

Instead, he picked a song of tremendous personal significance, "Loves Me Like a Rock," and dedicated it to his mother. The universe: destroyed anyway.

Stevie Wonder & Ledisi's "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

The question remained: who would get dibs on the still-astonishing "Bridge Over Troubled Water"? A song of that magnitude is not to be treated lightly.

So the producers gave it to generational genius Wonder, who'd bridged numberless troubled waters with socially conscious masterpieces like Songs in the Key of Life.

But he wouldn't do it alone: R&B great Ledisi brought the vocal pyrotechnics, imbuing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with the grandiosity it needed to take off.

Jimmy Cliff & Shaggy Brought Jamaican Vibes With "Mother & Child Reunion"

Simon embraced the sounds of South Africa with his 1986 blockbuster Graceland, yet his island connection is criminally underdiscussed; since the '60s, Jamaican artists have enthusiastically covered his songs.

For instance, it's impossible to imagine a "Mother and Child Reunion" not recorded in Kingston, pulsing with the energy of Simon's surroundings.

Enter genre luminaries Jimmy Cliff and Shaggy, who flipped the tribute into a bona fide reggae party.

Take 6 Dug Deep With "Homeless"

Leave it to the Recording Academy to avoid superficiality in these events: Mitchell's aforementioned MusiCares tribute included beyond-deep cuts like "Urge for Going" and "If." 

Most remember "Homeless" as Ladysmith Black Mambazo unaccompanied vocal cooldown after bangers like "You Can Call Me Al"; eight-time GRAMMY-winning vocal group Take 6 did a radiant, affectionate rendition.

When Simon took the stage at the end of the night, he was visibly blown away. Touchingly, he shouted out his late guitarist, Joseph Shabalala, who founded Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

"Imagine a guy born in Ladysmith, South Africa, [who] writes a song in Zulu and it's sung here by an American group, singing his words in his language," Simon remarked. "It would have brought tears to his eyes."

Angélique Kidjo & Dave Matthews' Love Letter To Africa

Graceland was Simon's commercial zenith, so it was only appropriate that it be the energetic apogee of this tribute show.

Doubly so, that this section be helmed by two African artists: Angélique Kidjo, hailing from Benin, and Dave Matthews, born in Johannesburg.

"Under African Skies," which Simon originally sang with Linda Ronstadt is a natural choice — not only simply as a regional ode, but due to its still-evocative melody and poeticism.

"This is the story of how we begin to remember/ This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein" drew new power from Kidjo's lungs. 

Afterward, Matthews — a quintessential ham — threw his whole body into Simon's wonderful, strange hit, "You Can Call Me Al."

The Master Himself Took The Stage

With his still-gleaming tenor and still-undersung acoustic guitar mastery, Simon brought the night home with "Graceland," a Rhiannon Giddens-assisted "American Tune" and "The Sound of Silence."

At 81, Simon remains a magnetic performer; even though this is something of a stock sequence for when he plays brief one-off sets, it's simply a pleasure to watch the master work.

Then, the sobering conclusion: "Hello darkness, my old friend," Simon sang, stark and weary. With the world's usual litany of darknesses raging outside, he remains the best shepherd through nightmares we've got.

And as the audience beheld Simon, they seemed to silently say: Talk with us again.

15 Essential Tracks By Paul Simon: In A Burst Of Glory, Sound Becomes A Song