A veteran Grammys executive producer says his awards show does not have a diversity issue like the Oscars and that it is not fair to compare the two programs.
Ahead of Monday’s show, news outlets reported that the Grammys could be under fire since it planned to pay tribute to white performers such as David Bowie and The Eagles’ Glenn Frey with live performances, though the legacy of black acts such as Natalie Cole and Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire recently passed and were not receiving the same treatment.
Ken Ehrlich said he first thought of booking a performer to honor Cole, but then he watched her 1992 Grammys performance of her singing in sync with her father, Nat King Cole, who appeared in video. It was the same year she won album of the year for “Unforgettable … with Love,” which paid tribute to her father with reworked versions of some of his best-known songs.
Ehrlich called the video of the performance “unbelievably touching” and said it will be played at the end of the “In Memorium” section of the awards show. Natalie Cole died Dec. 31.
Earth, Wind & Fire — who were set to receive a lifetime achievement award before White passed — will accept the honor on live TV, speak about White’s legacy and present one of the top awards, record of the year, Ehrlich said. White died Feb. 4 and Ehrlich added that there will also be a surprise with Earth, Wind & Fire.
B.B. King, who died last year, will also be honored with a performance tribute by Bonnie Raitt, Gary Clark Jr. and Chris Stapleton, Ehrlich said.
Lionel Richie honored
Rihanna, Usher, Stevie Wonder and John Legend paid tribute to Lionel Richie in a musical tribute touching on his roots in R&B to his string of romantic, easy-listening ballads that ruled the airwaves in the 1980s.
They joined The Band Perry, Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton and Ellie Goulding in launching Grammy weekend Saturday night by honoring Richie as the MusiCares Person of the Year.
Eagles of Death Metal are back
Jesse Hughes, frontman of the U.S. band whose Nov. 13 gig at the Bataclan theater in Paris was stormed by Islamic extremist suicide bombers killing 89 people, says “my friends died very beautifully, they died very well, with great courage.”
The Eagles of Death Metal band is kicking off its rescheduled European tour Saturday in the Swedish capital, three months to the day after the Paris carnage.
Actress Amber Riley (”Glee”) is 30. … Actress Renee O’Connor (”Xena: Warrior Princess”) is 45. … Bassist Mikey Craig of Culture Club is 56. … Cartoonist Matt Groening (”The Simpsons”) is 62.