Best Return to the Mic: Bill Withers
Though he hasn't properly performed in years, Bill Withers proved he'd lost none of his performing chops with the most memorable speech of the night, maybe one of the greatest in Hall of Fame history, packed with classic one-liners and personal reflection.
In the hall, the anticipation of what Withers — who hadn't sang onstage in years — was going to do after his speech, was palpable. With no mic in front of him, he sat next to Stevie Wonder as Wonder began "Aint No Sunshine" in front of harpejji instrument, just watching as Wonder belted the song, making Withers' presence feel almost ghost-like. After that, John Legend joined for "Use Me," and "Lean on Me." Withers materialized with a microphone for the chorus, bringing the crowd to its feet, even if he couldn't be heard. "The idea was to make them think I was singing," he told Rolling Stone backstage. "I was just sort of fooling around behind John Legend, you know. It's just something i don't feel comfortable doing right now. If I was to go to the gym and jog around the track and everything, you know, but it's been a long time for me. I haven't done that in like 25 years or something."
"I think what determines a great songwriter and singer is when they are able to let you feel every word they sing and express," Wonder said before the feel-good salute. Withers' fans, glad to see him momentarily back in a groove, no doubt felt the love.