The 66th Grammy Awards on Sunday offered up history-making wins, dazzling performances by new stars, poignant songs from legendary veterans and even a few surprises.
– Surprise guest: Celine Dion –
For the final award of the night, organizers of the gala had a big surprise: pop diva Celine Dion, who has been battling the rare neurological disorder Stiff-Person Syndrome, emerged from backstage to a standing ovation.
“When I say that I’m happy to be here, I really mean it from my heart,” Dion said, to more applause.
Dion, 55, has been forced to cancel a string of shows over her condition, a progressive disorder for which there is no cure. Symptoms include stiff muscles in the torso, arms and legs, with noise or emotional distress known to trigger spasms.
Joni, Tracy, Billy –
Joni Mitchell brought the room to tears as she performed her beloved track “Both Sides Now,” fresh off a win for Best Folk Album for her live record “Joni Mitchell at Newport.”
Stars including Meryl Streep and Beyonce swayed to the music as Mitchell performed from an armchair — a literal throne — surrounded by famous collaborators including Brandi Carlile, who hailed the icon as “the matriarch of imagination, a true Renaissance woman, my hero and yours.”
It was a rare public appearance from Chapman, whose crystal-clear vocals had many audience members swaying and singing along, including Swift.
And “Piano Man” Billy Joel closed the night with the first live performance of his first original single in nearly two decades, “Turn The Lights Back On.”
– Striking performances –
The gala opened with electrifying sets from Dua Lipa, who wore skimpy black leather as a troupe of dancers writhed in an onstage cage, while triple winner SZA offered a revenge fantasy for her darkly humorous track “Kill Bill.”
Miley Cyrus, who won two prizes, showed off her vocal range as she belted out “Flowers” in a shimmering dress with revealing cutouts and fringe.
She raised her fist and urged “Artists for Ceasefire,” a call and clear reference to O’Connor’s long history of advocating for Palestinian rights.
And Oprah Winfrey paid tribute to her longtime friend Tina Turner, who was honored by a rollicking performance of the classic “Proud Mary” by Fantasia.
– Jay-Z –
Jay-Z accepted The Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, which he received alongside his eldest daughter, Blue Ivy, as a cowboy hat-sporting Beyonce proudly looked on from the audience.
He took the moment to acknowledge his fraught history with the Recording Academy, who he has long accused of marginalizing Black artists.
– New Taylor Album –
One of the night’s viral moments had nothing to do with the Grammy Awards themselves: in accepting her first trophy of the night, Swift announced a whole new body of work was on the way.
“I want to say thank you to the fans by telling you a secret that I have been keeping from you for the last two years, which is that my brand new album comes out April 19th.”
“Thank you, I love you! Thank you!” said Swift, by far one of the world’s most bankable stars.