Grammys 2019: Jennifer Lopez, Smokey Robinson Lead Motown Tribute - Rolling Stone
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Grammys 2019: Jennifer Lopez, Smokey Robinson Lead Motown Tribute

Ne-Yo, Alicia Keys also joined in for performances of Motown classics

Jennifer Lopez and Smokey Robinson61st Annual Grammy Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 10 Feb 2019

Jennifer Lopez and Smokey Robinson 61st Annual Grammy Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 10 Feb 2019

Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock

“People say I’m the life of the party just because I say a joke or two,” Smokey Robinson sang when the 2019 Grammy Awards came back from commercials, as he and Alica Keys duetted on his “Tracks of My Tears.” Motown founder Berry Gordy smiled from ear to ear and applauded, since the reason he was there was to commemorate Motown’s 60th anniversary. Robinson then paid tribute to Gordy and introduced a medley of Motown classics.

Jennifer Lopez kicked things off with a medley of Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street” (complete with fireworks) and transitioned into the Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman.” Then she took on the Berry Gordy-penned “Money (That’s What I Want)” to his amusement, as she waved hair hair around. But things quickly shimmied their way into the Contours’ “Do You Love Me” and teased the Jackson 5’s “ABC,” as her male dancers showed her off Motown’s iconic rainbow logo, as it appeared in the middle of 45s, was lit up behind her.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Smokey Robinson,” she said and he then came out and sang the Temptations’ “My Girl.” Robinson, though, sang “My Jen.” Alicia Keys then joined Lopez for a taste of the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and Edwin Starr’s “War” followed by Teena Marie’s “Square Biz.” And Ne-Yo came out to finish things off with a rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star,” which he sang while playing a white grand piano that Lopez climbed atop. As he sang, Lopez did flips and danced with her dozen or so backup dancers before ending with fireworks. THe crowd gave the show a standing ovation.

Several of the performers are nominated for Grammys at the 2019 ceremony: Chloe x Halle for Best New Artist, Little Big Town for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Country Song (“When Someone Stops Loving You”), Kelly for Best Gospel Performance/Song (“Never Alone” with Kirk Franklin) and Best Gospel Album (Hiding Place) and Legend for Best Musical Theater Album as part of the soloist crew for the Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert LP,

Little Big Town will also join for a Dolly Parton tribute alongside Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves and Katy Perry. Ross, a 12-time Grammy nominee, will be honored with a separate tribute performance marking her 75th birthday.


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