5 biggest performances of the 2023 Grammy Awards
OPINION: TheGrio lists the five best on-stage performances of the 65th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
The Grammy Awards is one of, if not the biggest, night in music each year. The 2023 ceremony was no different.
During a night when history was made, including Beyonce becoming the highest all-time Grammy winner and Viola Davis reaching EGOT status, the 65th Grammys also had many great performances.
From Steve Lacy linking with Thundercat for “Bad Habits” to Jay-Z’s endless rhymes on DJ Khaled’s “God Did,” the telecast had some unforgettable performances. Here are theGrio’s five favorite 2023 Grammy Award performances.
Stevie Wonder Leads Motown Tribute
With Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson receiving the prestigious MusicCares honor, the legacy of Motown Records was celebrated with a performance led by legend Stevie Wonder. The 25-time Grammy Award-winner spearheaded the tribute with a medley, joined by WanMor (also known as Boyz II Men singer Wanya Morris’ quartet of singing sons) for The Temptations’ “The Way You Do the Things You Do.” Then, Robinson stepped onstage to duet on his co-composition with Wonder, “Tears of a Clown.” The performance reached a climax when country singer Chris Stapleton duetted on “Higher Ground” with Wonder.
Lizzo Says It’s “About Damn Time” We All Feel “Special”
Lizzo would take home the 2023 Record of the Year for her Billboard Hot 100 single, “About Damn Time.” But earlier in the evening, she performed her hit record on the Grammy stage. Walking out in silhouette before the lights come on to reveal her in a corsetted black dress, she sang her hit song as well as the title track of her album, “Special.” An accompanying choir helped fuse the two songs together to make for a truly inclusive moment.
Quavo Honors Takeoff’s Memory
Loretta Lynn and Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie garnered poignant tributes during the “In Memoriam” segment, which honored members of the music industry who died the previous year. Perhaps the most emotional portion of the tribute came from the Migos’ Quavo. In honor of his late groupmate and nephew Takeoff, who was killed in November, he performed his tribute record, “Without You,” as Takeoff’s chain hung from an empty mic on stage. Gospel collective Maverick City Music, which won four Grammys during the evening, performed behind him, incorporating a soul-stirring rendition of Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.”
Mary J. Blige Embraces Self-Love With “Good Morning Gorgeous”
Nine-time Grammy Award-winner Mary J. Blige got her first-ever nomination for Album of the Year for “Good Morning Gorgeous (Deluxe).” With the title track reflecting on her journey to achieve self-love and self-acceptance, Blige hit the Grammy stage looking regal and stately. Dressed in a gold sequined gown, thigh-high boots, and a broad-brimmed black hat, Blige gave the audience both her signature raw emotion and regality.
Grammys Celebrate 50 Years of Hip-Hop
The hip-hop tribute was the biggest performance of the night — literally. With over 20 artists performing, backed by several background dancers dressed in Adidas tracksuits, the Questlove-curated segment highlighted several generations of hip-hop artists. opening with Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel, and progressing through performances by Run-DMC, LL Cool J, and Salt-N-Pepa, the performance treated the audience to a brief history of hip-hop. An unofficial chronological run through the genre to date also featured classics like Queen Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y.,” De La Soul’s “Buddy Remix” and Missy Elliott’s “Lose Control,” ending with a musical passing of the torch to newer artists like GloRilla and Lil Baby.
Matthew Allen is an entertainment writer of music and culture for theGrio. He is an award-winning music journalist, TV producer and director based in Brooklyn, NY. He’s interviewed the likes of Quincy Jones, Jill Scott, Smokey Robinson and more for publications such as Ebony, Jet, The Root, Village Voice, Wax Poetics, Revive Music, Okayplayer, and Soulhead. His video work can be seen on PBS/All Arts, Brooklyn Free Speech TV and BRIC TV.
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