*Sam Smith may have been the big winner at this year’s Grammy Awards, but a mellow vibe with powerful singing stole the show.
For Smith, the night was his as he took home Grammys for song of the year and record of the year for “Stay With Me” as well as best new artist and best pop vocal album for “In the Lonely Hour.”
“Thank you so much for breaking my heart. You bought me four Grammys,” Smith said during his final acceptance speech about the man who inspired “Stay With Me.”
In addition to collecting Grammys, Smith also performed the remix to “Stay With Me” with a radiant Mary J. Blige and a backing orchestra.
Other winners included Pharrell Williams, who took home best pop song for “Happy,” which he put a new spin on with a spoken word beginning that segued in to a display of opera and gospel styling’s along with a break for a piano solo aschoir members in white came down the aisle.
Beyoncé also did double duty as she accepted the best R&B performance Grammy for “Drunk in Love” and came back at the end of the more than three and a half hour Grammy broadcast to help close the show with a stirring rendition of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” The performance, which included dancers dressed in white making the hands up, don’t shoot sign in unison, was part of a mini-tribute to the film “Selma” that concluded with an equally grabbing performance of the Academy Award-nominated tune “Glory” from John Legend and Common, who warmed up for their time on the Oscars stage while taking the audience into the message of the song with thoughtful hand gestures and movements with an all-male choir in the background.
In all, there were 23 performances during the Grammys this year as Kanye West took to the stage for a solo performance of his Paul McCartney collaboration “Only One” before gathering the former Beatle and Rihanna for a stripped down epic performance of Ri-Ri’s new single “FourFiveSeconds. Other performers included Madonna singing amongst an army of horned masked dancers for “Living for Love,” Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga proving good music crosses all generational lines with “Cheek to Cheek,” Sia being present via her voice and Kristen Wiig for “Chandelier” and Miranda Lambert brining some “backyard swagger” with “Little Red Wagon,” in addition to Ariana Grande doing the serious crooner thing with “Little Bit of Your Heart” and Hozier and Annie Lennox performing his hit “Take Me to Church” and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ classic “I Put a Spell On You,” of which Lennox made sure to let everyone know that she did indeed come to sing as she took over the set.
An appearance from Stevie Wonder highlighted Usher’s harp-assisted performance of Wonder’s song “If It’s Magic.” The song as well as Wonder’s cameo was to promote CBS’ upcoming tribute to the legendary singer. Continuing the message-filled vibe of the night was Katy Perry, who’s simple, but powerful performance of “By the Grace of God” was preceded by a taped video from President Barack Obama. In a video that aired before the performance, Obama urged viewers and those in the audience at the Grammys to help prevent domestic violence by joining itsonus.org, a website dedicated to directly addressing the issue and supporting suvivors. After Obama’s video, Brooke Axtell, a domestic violence survivor and performance artist, detailed her experience with an abusive ex-lover while spreading the anti-domestic violence message via spoken word.
“Authentic love does not devalue a human being,” she said.
While performers provided heartfelt and powerful vocals to earn their applause, one presenter commanded a standing ovation from just his presence alone. While presenting the Grammy for album of the year, Prince provided a bit of real talk while making one of the best statements of the night which rang true for music artists as well as those watching at home.
“Albums still matter,” he said. “Like books and black lives, albums still matter.
For those curious, album of the year went to Beck for “Morning Phase.” Shades of the MTV Video Music Awards were recalled as West almost stormed the stage to steal the spotlight away from Beck like he did Taylor Swift back in 2009. Fortunately, it was all in good fun as Yeezy sat himself down with a smile on his face and Beck began his acceptance speech.
Watch reaction of Jay Z and Beyonce: