Stevie Wonder's All-Star Grammy Tribute: Our 5 Favorite Performances - Rolling Stone
Home Music Live Reviews

Stevie Wonder’s All-Star Grammy Tribute: Our 5 Favorite Performances

Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga and more cover classic songs by the beloved the singer

Mary Wilson, India.Arie, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Tony Bennett and Lady GagaMary Wilson, India.Arie, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

Stevie Wonder's Grammy tribute featured performances from singers of several generations.

Kevin Winter/Getty

The title of last night’s Grammy-sponsored Stevie Wonder tribute, Songs in the Key of Life — An All-Star Saluteproved to be a bit of a misnomer. The roster of performers (which included Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams, Annie Lennox and John Legend) certainly lived up to its billing, but rather than limit themselves to Wonder’s titular 1976 masterpiece, they were given room to stretch across the visionary artist’s unparalleled catalog. Beyoncé and Ed Sheeran kicked things off with “Fingertips” (1963) and “Master Blaster” (1980); the Band Perry covered 1974 funk jam “You Haven’t Done Nothin'”; and Ariana Grande dueted with her producer Babyface on 1970’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

Wonder himself followed these artists with a short, joyous set featuring songs like “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” It was an obvious highlight, but it was far from the only one. These were our five favorite performances from artists besides Stevie.

Fingertips/Master Blaster/Higher Ground,Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran, Gary Clark Jr.
Bey set the bar high by beginning the show with a tremendously energetic medley. Wearing a tight mini-dess and gyrating like Tina Turner, she opened with Wonders jubilant first hit, 1963s Fingertips,” then dismissed her phalanx of male dancers to introduce Ed Sheeran. Sheeran, who would return, accompanied her on Wonders 1980 ode to Bob Marley before bringing out guitar whiz Gary Clark Jr. to deliver a blistering Higher Ground.Beyoncé brought the same gospel fierceness to the 1973 hit that she brought to Sunday’s Grammy performance of Take My Hand, Precious Lord.

I Wish,Lady Gaga
Gaga, performing with laser-beam intensity, added sassiness and bravado to Wonders sweet ode to childhood. Clad in a sparkly silver shift that twinkled in the lights, she resembled nothing so much as an electric, bewigged muppet, writhing on her piano bench with barely contained effervescence. The crowd rose to its feet as soon as she sang the first line.

I Was Made to Love Her,Ed Sheeran
In one the evenings most creative performances, the British singer-songwriter looped vocals, melody and percussion and accompanied himself on acoustic guitar. Sheeran thus added his own, contemporary twist to the 1968 love song while still honoring its un-aging passion. If he released this version today, it would be all over the radio.

All in Love Is Fair,Jennifer Hudson
Standing still under the spotlight, the Oscar winner beautifully amplified the regret in this languid tune from 1973
s Innervisions. Hudson adopted the spare arrangement of Wonders version but turned the song (about the dissolution of an affair) into a smoky, torchy, slow-burner, with her powerful voice ringing through Nokias rafters as she sang the final verse.

As,India.Arie, Janelle Monae, Jill Scott
Three of the loveliest R&B voices of recent years delivered a jazzy rendition of Wonders 1977 promise of undying love. At first, the song brimmed with smooth elegance, but in the last verse trio ditched restraint exploded into vocal fireworks. Scott’s impressive pyrotechnics led the way.

Set list:
“Fingertips/Master Blaster/Higher Ground,Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Gary Clark Jr.
For Once in My Life ,Tony Bennett
I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever),John Legend
My Cherie Amour,Annie Lennox
I Wish,Lady Gaga
I Just Called To Say I Love You,Andrea Bocelli
Signed, Sealed, Delivered,Ariana Grande and Babyface
You Haven’t Done Nothin,the Band Perry
I Was Made to Love Her,Ed Sheeran
As, India.Arie, Janelle Monae and Jill Scott
Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing, Pharrell Williams and Ryan Tedder
All in Love Is Fair,” Jennifer Hudson
Isnt She Lovely,Aisha Morris and Ne-Yo

Contusion/Sir Duke/You Are the Sunshine of My Life/Ribbon in the Sky/Overjoyed/Superstition,Stevie Wonder

Happy Birthday/Another Star,All performers


Powered by
Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.