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Grammys 2019: Watch Alicia Keys Kicks Things Off With Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga

Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith also joined in for a powerful opening

Alicia Keys joked about the power of music and showed the crowd “who runs the world” during opening monologue for the 2019 Grammy Awards at Los Angeles’ Staples Center.

Keys kicked things off by calling out her friends in the audience. “When you really want to say something, you say it with a song,” she said. “So let’s just be honest. This is a celebration. And y’all didn’t think I was coming out here by myself, did you?” Then she welcomed four more of her friends to the stage: Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith, who each spoke to how music had transformed their lives.

“They said I was weird, that my look, my choices, my sound, that it wouldn’t work,” Gaga said. “But music told me not to listen to them. Music took my ears, took my hands, my voice, and my soul. And it led me to all of you and to my little Monsters who I love so much.”

“Back in the Bronx, music gave me a reason to dance,” Lopez offered. “From hip-hop to freestyle, pop, soul and salsa, and it kept me moving from the block to big stages and even bigger screens. It reminded me of where I come from but it also reminds me of all the places I can go. Music has always been the one place we can all feel truly free.”

“We express our pain, power and progress through music, whether we’re creating it or just appreciating it,” Pinkett Smith said. “But here’s what I know: Every voice here deserves to be honored and respected.”

Then came Obama’s turn. As she started to speak, she got a huge applause that she had to quell by telling the crowd, “We got a show to do.” Then she explained how music affected her life.

“From the Motown records I wore out on the South Side to the ‘Who Run the World’ songs that fueled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story,” she said. “I know that’s true for everybody here. Whether we like country, rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves, our dignities and sorrows, our hopes and joys. It allows us to hear one another, to invite each other in.  Music shows us that all of it matters. Every story within every voice, every note within every song. Is that right ladies?” All the women on the stage agreed.

“What is better than this?” Keys said. “Tonight we celebrate the greatness in each other through music. I’m taking it in. Excuse me. … Who runs the world?”

Keys, who took over hosting duties from James Corden last year, is the Grammys’ first female host since Queen Latifah in 2005. It’s been a long journey since she won Best New Artist at the 2002 installment of the awards show.

“I am truly excited to be here hosting the Grammy Awards this year,” Keys said at a pre-Grammys press conference Thursday. “I feel like we are truly part of a celebration, bringing the light, bringing the energy and continuing to make the statement that music is such an important part of all of our lives. Sunday is going to absolutely reflect that light, that love. We feel this Grammys is going to be different and bigger and better than any other.”

Keys, a 15-time Grammy winner, added of her decision to host the Grammys, “The reason I felt like this was such — I think we all felt like this was such — a natural moment is because I have been so blessed to have been on this stage before, multiple times, and understand what it is, what it feels like, what the artists are going through. That’s what makes me excited to celebrate so many amazing nominees, particularly women nominees, so many who are my friends. There is a sense of true music community I can bring to the stage and I love the ability to lift each other up. It feels like it’s the right thing.”

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