The Grammys might wrapped up last Sunday, but there was still one more honor for the Academy to bestow, which is why the biggest names in rock, pop, and R&B gathered together Monday night for a celebration one of the greatest names in music history: Stevie Wonder.
Thanks to everyone from Ariana to Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson to Janelle Monae, and Pharrell to The Band Perry, the tribute, Songs in the Key of Life — An All-Star Grammy Salute, was a star-studded affair from start to finish. On the off-chance that you missed the touching CBS tribute, don’t you worry ’bout a thing. See four of the best performances of the night right here, to add a little bit of life into this cold February morning.
What better way to kick off a night honoring one musical royalty than with a flawless performances from the Queen Bey herself? Thanks to a soulful rendition of “Fingertips,” Beyoncé got the place on their feet from the very start, and the party just kept going as she was joined on stage by Ed Sheeran for “Master Blaster.” Who knew that these two would make such sweet music together? Their nine-minute spectacular ended with one of Wonder’s biggest hits, “Higher Ground,” accompanied by blues musician Gary Clark Jr. And that, folks, is how you open a tribute concert.
2. Ariana Grande and Babyface
When you’re singing one of the most iconic songs of all time – in this case, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” – the best thing to do is to let the music speak for itself. Luckily for everyone, that’s exactly the route that Ariana Grande and Babyface took. The scaled-back performance featured the pop princess and the R&B legend accompanied by just an acoustic guitar, so that their voices and Wonder’s lyrics could truly take center stage. Of course, it was only a matter of time before things got a little funkier, but even when the band joined in, these two still proved that less is often more.
3. Lady Gaga
Sure, the Mother Monster could have done a whole elaborate performance in honor of her musical hero, but instead, Gaga also kept thing simple. Well, her version of simple, which included a full band, glittering mini-dress, and horn section in order to give one of the most rousing, raucous and respectful tributes to Wonder of the night. Judging by his reaction at the end of her number, the man himself seemed to approve as well. Now that she’s conquered pop and jazz, perhaps a soul album is in Gaga’s future…
4. Ed Sheeran
It’s hard to imagine that Sheeran could do anything to top his performance with Beyoncé at the top of the show, but he managed to do just that with a solo performance of “I Was Made to Love Her” later in the night. In tribute to Wonder, who played every single instrument on Music In My Mind in 1972, Sheeran skipped the backing band in favor of his looping pedal, so that he could celebrate not just Wonder’s lyrics, but also his unparalleled musicianship. Never underestimate the shy kid with the guitar, everyone.
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