The 54th annual Grammy Awards kicked off on February 12th under less than celebratory circumstances, just one day after the sudden passing of singer Whitney Houston. Host LL Cool J opened the award show with a group prayer for the talented vocalist, and later, Jennifer Hudson performed “I Will Always Love You” in tribute to the star during the “In Memoriam” portion of the program. Hudson had long sited Houston as one of her career inspirations. Houston had presented Hudson with her first Grammy for Best R&B album in 2009. Houston’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown,and father of daughter Bobbi Kristina, was not at the ceremony. Brown, who was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, is currently on tour with his band, New Edition.
Another highlight of the evening was the first performance by British singer Adele since her surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston this past fall. Adele even went so far as to thank her MGH surgeons by name during her acceptance speech, including Dr. Steven Zeitels, who has performed the same surgery on Massachusetts native Steven Tyler in the past. The ginger singer also revealed recently in interviews that she took comfort in a newly formed friendship with Fairfield, Connecticut’s John Mayer during her recovery. Mayer also reportedly had a similar surgery performed around the same time.
Adele went on to win 6 Grammys throughout the evening, tying Beyoncé for the most awards won by a female artist in a single evening.
During the un-televised portion of the show, Boston’s Berklee College of Music alums were up for 30 awards, and won an impressive nine. Co-written by alum Jeff Bhasker (’99), Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” won Best Rap Song and Rap/Sung Collaboration.
Other winners with Berklee ties included alum Terri Lyne Carrington (“The Mosaic Project,” Best Jazz Vocal Album) and Trey Parker (“The Book of Mormon,” Best Musical Theater Album). Yes, that’s the same Trey Parker who helped create the animated series, “South Park”. Turns out, the producer, screenwriter, and animator is also a talented musician, who studied music at Berklee before transferring to the University of Colorado, where he majored in music and Japanese.
Boston resident Jesse Lewis also won a Grammy award for his work on the year’s Best Engineered Classical Album, “Aldridge: Elmer Gantry”.