Alicia Keys, John Legend and Usher will perform at a special Prince tribute concert set to take place after the 2020 Grammy Awards and air on television later this year, Rolling Stone has confirmed.
Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince will be held January 28th – two days after the Grammys – at the Los Angeles Convention Center and will be broadcast in April. Former Prince drummer Sheila E. will serve as the night’s musical director alongside longtime Prince associates Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The lineup also includes Beck, Common, Foo Fighters, H.E.R., Earth, Wind & Fire, St. Vincent, Mavis Staples, Chris Martin, Gary Clark, Jr. and Juanes.
The show will also feature several Prince collaborators, including Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles (who sang the Prince-written hit “Manic Monday”), and Morris Day and the Time. The musician’s old band, the Revolution, have also signed on, with drummer Bobby Z. telling Rolling Stone the group “are involved and looking forward to honoring Prince.”
Speaking with Rolling Stone, Sheila E. says she and her band will be supporting most of the performers throughout the night while also getting her own set. The musician says they plan to perform the breakout, Prince-penned hit “The Glamorous Life” — “For obvious reasons,” she quips — and Prince’s 1985 song, “America.”
“I was very honored to be able to do this for so many reasons, but to be able to help celebrate the life of a dear friend and be a part of this and be musical director is awesome,” Sheila E. says.
In a statement, Recording Academy President/CEO Deborah Dugan said, “Prince. The Purple One. His Royal Badness — regardless of how you identify him, he is indisputably one of the greatest musical virtuosos of all time. With his subversive attitude and commanding nature, he straddled musical genres and created electrifying music that was bursting with character. He continues to serve as an inspirational icon for artists and fans worldwide, and we are so honored to pay tribute to his legacy.”
The Prince tribute will follow past “Grammy Salute” concerts, which have honored the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Motown and Aretha Franklin. Longtime Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich says the idea for a Prince celebration had been kicking around for a while, particularly after the Time and Bruno Mars’ widely celebrated tribute at the 2017 Grammys. But Ehrlich acknowledged that there was some apprehension about doing a show for someone like Prince.
“Sometimes you worry about these things, because when an artist is so iconic, so individualistic and so unique, you get a little bit nervous about having people interpret their work,” he says. “But I think, if anything, based on what we’ve done with these past shows, either we’ve gotten a little foolhardy to think that we could do Prince, or we’ve gotten confident that there are artists out there who fit; who will be faithful to what he did and reverent enough not to fuck around with him.”
Ehrlich says the show will cover several different eras of Prince’s musical career, with biographical segments interspersed between the musical performances. As for the setlist, there will be plenty of hits, but also a handful of deep cuts. “There are times when we will try and suggest to an artist that their choice might not be the best choice, but ultimately we will go with what their instincts are,” Ehrlich says.
Like past “Grammy Salute” concerts, the Prince show will offer fans the opportunity to not just enjoy Prince’s music, but also hear familiar songs with fresh ears. Ehrlich says that, so far, he’s heard a handful of scratch tracks from artists set to play the show, and says, “I’m really happy, because everyone I’ve heard, there’s a little bit of Prince — sometimes there’s a lot more Prince there.”
For Sheila E., the show is a chance to celebrate an old friend and collaborator alongside the unifying power of his music. “Musically, there’s so much to choose from,” she says. “It’s almost unfair to do a two-hour tribute to him — we could do a full week. At the end of the day, it’s him bringing people together and having a good time.”