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Newcomers, well-known acts win Grammys

Awards show honors LA icons Nipsey Hussle, Kobe Bryant

LOS ANGELES — The 2020 Grammy Awards was filled with tributes to Los Angeles icons as the night honored and celebrated the lives and legacies of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and rapper Nipsey Hussle, who won his first Grammy posthumously Sunday.

The Grammys kicked off with a performance in honor of Bryant, who died hours before the awards began. And later in the show, Hussle’s collaborators and friends, including DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG, gave an all-star tribute to the man who died last year.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay introduced the performance, which featured band players, background dancers and Legend wearing traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean clothing in honor of Hussle’s African roots. Mill performed a new song called “Letter to Nipsey” while others joined together for “Higher,” which was nominated for best rap/sung performance.

“Rest in peace Nipsey Hussle. Rest in peace Kobe Bryant,” DJ Khaled said as photos of the entertainers appeared onscreen.

During the pre-ceremony, Hussle’s “Racks in the Middle” picked up best rap performance.

The show — taking place in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, Bryant’s stomping ground — kicked off with a touching, emotional and a cappella performance of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by host Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men.

“Here we are together on music’s biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best, but to be honest with you we are all feeling crazy sadness right now,” Keys said as she entered the stage, adding that “Los Angeles, America and the world-wide world lost a hero.”

She said the audience was “heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”

Before the show officially honored Bryant, Lizzo performed the songs “Truth Hurts” and “Cuz I Love You,” saying at the top of the show: “Tonight is for Kobe.”

Billie Eilish picked up Grammys for record of the year, album of the year, song of the year and best new artist.

Eilish also won best pop vocal album for “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” during the pre-telecast ceremony.

Eilish said from the stage that “I feel like I joke around a lot, but I genuinely want to say that I’m so grateful.”

The 18-year-old told the music stars in the crowd that “I grew up watching all of you.”

She was joined on stage by her brother and musical partner Finneas, who won two Grammys for his work with his sister earlier Sunday.

Lizzo, who won two honors during the pre-telecast, won best pop solo performance for “Truth Hurts” during the live telecast.

“Hold on one second,” she said, catching her breath. “Thank you to the academy.”

Lizzo and Eilish were among the mix of newcomers and well-known acts who reached their goals of winning their first-ever Grammy Awards on Sunday, which also included Tanya Tucker, J. Cole, Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, Michelle Obama, Sara Bareilles, Rosalia, 21 Savage and Tyler, the Creator.

“To my mother, you did a great job raising this guy,” Tyler, who won best rap album, said to his mom, who was onstage and crying by side.

Gary Clark Jr. and Eilish’s brother, Finneas, walked away with three awards each.

Finneas — who co-wrote, produced and engineered his sister’s debut album, “When We All Fall sleep, Where Do We Go?” — won best engineered album (non-classical), best pop vocal album (shared with his sister) and non-classical producer of the year.

“My heart is beating so fast right now,” Finneas said. “This award belongs to my sister Billie for her trust and vision.”

Finneas assisted Eilish by playing keys while she gave a soft, pitch perfect performance of “When the Party’s Over.” Demi Lovato, who has mostly taken a break from the public since focusing on her recovery after reportedly overdosing in July 2018, gave a stirring, vocally top-notch performance that earned her a standing ovation. She was so emotional that she had to restart the song as a teardrop ran down her cheek.

Camila Cabello’s performance of “First Man” — a song dedicated to her father — also induced tears. Cabello walked off the stage to her dad’s seat to finish singing him the song in front of him, while he teared up. Audience members were emotional, too, including Gwen Stefani.

Ariana Grande had lengthy performance and Run DMC joined forces with Aerosmith to rock the Grammys stage, while Usher, Sheila E. and FKA twigs paid tribute to Prince.

Lil Nas X brought the story of “Old Town Road” to life by performing alongside the artists who helped the song stay at No. 1 for 19 weeks through various remixes, including BTS, Mason Ramsey, Diplo and the track’s main co-star, Billy Ray Cyrus.

The awards show continued into the night. A complete list of winners can be found at www.grammy.com.