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Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin honored at Grammys

Jimmy Carter wins Grammy for spoken word album

Diana Ross performs a medley at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb 10 in Los Angeles. (AP)

LOS ANGELES, Feb 11, (Agencies): Legendary vocalists Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin were honored during the 61st Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, with performances by Ross herself and other artists who paid tribute to the long-reigning “Queen of Soul” who died last year.

Ross, 74, rose to fame in the 1960s as the lead singer of Motown Record’s vocal group the Supremes, one of the world’s best-selling girl groups in history and the most commercially successful Motown artist. Ross’ decorated career includes 91 singles, 59 albums and 41 number one songs.

She appeared on stage wearing a bright red gown with matching red lipstick and earrings as she performed her own energetic tribute and wished herself a happy birthday weeks ahead of turning 75.

“When I was a little girl, I thought the joy of singing made me happy, it made my parents happy and it led to this day and it brings me joy,” Ross said. “Through my life, there has always been music and its power.”

Ross serenaded the crowd with a performance that included her classic songs, “The Best Years of My Life” and “Reach Out And Touch”.

“C’mon everybody, hands in the air, move the energy in the room,” Ross shouted.

Nearing the end of the award show, Fantasia, Andra Day and Yolanda Adams took the stage to honor Franklin, whose death in August rocked the music world and prompted tributes from fellow musicians and politicians.

Without introduction, the trio appeared on stage after the “in memoriam” portion of the show and sung Franklin’s hit single, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” while a slideshow displaying photos of the singer appeared in the background.

Some social media users on Twitter were impressed by the Grammy Awards’ tribute to Franklin and shared their excitement online.


Chenese Lewis, an emcee based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, wrote: “Aretha Franklin’s tribute was much better! Andra Day was a great singer to include! #Grammys.”

However, others were disappointed that it was so short.

“I cannot believe that I stayed up for a one-song Aretha Franklin tribute,” tweeted writer and publicist Kima Jones.

Franklin, who won 18 Grammy Awards and had some 25 gold records, had been battling advanced pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

Country singer Dolly Parton and the 60th anniversary of Motown Records were also recognized during the show.

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, has won his second Grammy Award for spoken word album for his biography “Faith – A Journey For All”. This personal reflection considers how faith has sustained him throughout good times and bad, inviting readers to find it for themselves. At the age of 94, the former POTUS won his first in 2016 for another one of his works, “A Full Life: Reflections at 90”.

Carter is one of three US presidents to win a Grammy alongside Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Clinton has two Grammys, one for spoken word album 2005 for “My Life”, and another for spoken word children’s album for “Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf/Beintus: Wolf Tracks” with Mikhail Gorbachev and Sophia Loren. Former president Obama won spoken word album in 2008 for “The Audacity of Hope”.


LOS ANGELES: XXXTentacion, who was shot to death in June 2018, was rejected from the Grammys’ in memoriam segment on Sunday night. According to a source, representatives for the late rapper requested repeatedly that the Recording Academy recognize the artist, whose “Sad!” was one of the most consumed songs of 2018. But because of the rapper’s history of domestic violence, the show opted not to include him alongside such acts as Avicii and Mac Miller.

After the nominations were revealed in December, Academy president Neil Portnow was asked by Rolling Stone whether the segment would include XXX. “I will tell you it’s a daunting challenge,” said Portnow. “We track those that we lose in our industry in any given year and then we have a process by which we go through it.

Our on-air in memoriam – we’re lucky if we wind up 10 to 15 percent of those we lose. Because it’s always hard choices. All of that is to say, I don’t have any answers for you now, but obviously artists who were prominent and well-known by the public are people who are recognized and we’ll just wind up having to see how it plays out.”

The divisive artist first broke in 2017 after appearing on the cover of XXL Magazine’s influential “Freshman” issue alongside Kamaiyah, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, PnB Rock, MadeinTYO, Playboi Carti, Amine, Kap G, KYLE and Ugly God. XXX won the fan vote to make the cover.

The 20-year-old Florida native has been embroiled in legal problems over his alleged beating of a girlfriend while pregnant. The controversy has resulted in numerous articles calling for the greater music industry to not “co-sign” or endorse, his music, including one that was published by Pitchfork titled, “XXXTentacion Is Blowing Up Behind Bars. Should He Be?”

XXX was also one of the artists to spur a “hateful conduct” ban on Spotify – since revoked – which removed his music from popular playlists like Rap Caviar. Hours after his death, XXXTentacion claimed the top two spots on the playlist, with songs from “?”, along with a tag at the top that read, “Rest In Peace, XXXTENTACION”.

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