Artists came together for a special one-night celebration on Wednesday. Common hosted A GRAMMY Salute to the Sounds of Change, which put a spotlight on unforgettable songs that catalyzed social change, both reflecting and shaping their times. During the telecast, Billy Porter sat down with Gayle King to talk about the barriers he’s overcome to find his truest voice.
But first, Cynthia Erivo kicked off the celebration by singing John Lennon’s classic “Imagine.” Dressed in a head-to-toe pearl netted dress with a head wrap, she elegantly belted the song as images of Black Lives Matter demonstrations and protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s death were shown on the screen behind her. Erivo was solely accompanied by a pianist during her performance.
What a powerful voice! #CynthiaErivo performs #JohnLennon's "Imagine" during "A #GRAMMYSalute To The #SoundsOfChange" on @CBS and @paramountplus. 🎶
Eastcoast are you watching? pic.twitter.com/M64s8YMNzS
Chris Stapleton then took the stage to perform Louis Armstrong’s beloved 1967 recording of “What a Wonderful World.” The track was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1999. Stapleton, a five-time GRAMMY winner, sang the song as he played the electric guitar.
[email protected] takes on @WillieNelson's "What A Wonderful World" during "A #GRAMMYSalute To The #SoundsOfChange". 🎶
Watch now on @CBS and @paramountplus! pic.twitter.com/MqKhrdcqQJ
Loretta Lynn was honored during the telecast by LeAnn Rimes, who sang the icon’s classic “The Pill.” The single was about the then-risqué subject of birth control and became a hit despite being banned on many radio stations. Rimes, rocking a sparkling pink gown with matching gloves, had a full band behind her as she sang the catchy song.
[email protected] delivers a rendition of @LorettaLynn's "The Pill" tonight at #SoundsOfChange. 🎤
Watch now on @CBS and @paramountplus. #GRAMMYSalutepic.twitter.com/escwTPKylB
Patti LaBelle, known for her own power ballads, sang an early feminist anthem, Leslie Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me.” LaBelle was accompanied by three backup singers as she delivered the impactful tune.
🎤 A powerful song. A powerful voice.
Patti LaBelle (@mspattipatti) performs #LeslieGore's "You Don't Own Me" during "A #GRAMMYSalute To The #SoundsOfChange". ✨
Watch now on @CBS or @paramountplus! pic.twitter.com/M7HBLYmAbh
Andra Day once again proved she’s a force to be reckoned with as she continued to honor Billie Holiday with a captivating performance of “Strange Fruit.” The singer-turned-actress has already won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the iconic songstress in The United States Vs. Billie Holiday. She also received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress this week.
[email protected] has already won a Golden Globe award for her portrayal of Billie Holiday but tonight she continues to honor her with a #SoundsOfChange performance of "Strange Fruit." pic.twitter.com/yqqYbNy2IF
Joined by Terrace Martin on sax, GRAMMY-winning artist Leon Bridges gave a mesmerizing performance of “Sweeter,” a song of change inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The song was written after Floyd was killed last summer by police in Minneapolis, sparking protests nationwide and moving many to action.
Still coming down from the clouds after @leonbridges#SoundsOfChange performance of his hit song, "Sweeter."
Accompanied by @terracemartin on sax. 🎷 pic.twitter.com/ydT4py7YWH
Gladys Knight paid tribute to Marvin Gaye during the special by performing his mega hit, “What’s Going On.” The singer was joined by Sheila E. on percussion, Israel Houghton on guitar, D Smoke on keyboards and Adam Blackstone on bass.
The legendary @MsGladysKnight shouts out her late friend Marvin Gaye before performing his hit "What's Going On." #SoundsOfChange
Accompanied by other all-star performers:
John Fogerty then treated audiences to two powerful performances. The singer sang his impactful songs “Weeping in the Promised Land” and “Fortunate Son” with a full band behind him.
[email protected]_Fogerty takes the #SoundsOfChange stage to sing not one, but TWO powerful songs, "Weeping in the Promised Land" and "Fortunate Son." pic.twitter.com/bPk5Lqqzcd
After an insightful conversation with Gayle King, Porter took the stage to sing “You Are My Friend” by LaBelle. “For me, it’s been my friendships, my chosen family, who have sustained me for the entirety of my life,” he expressed, adding that one cannot choose their family “but you can choose your friends. And that’s why I chose this song.”
Gloria and Emilio Estefan took a moment to touch on how their powerful Latinx culture informed their collective musical experience. They then introduced their daughter, Emily, whose activism led her to write the compelling song for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, “This Is What (for Justice Sonia Sotomayor).”
Following in her impactful parents’ (@GloriaEstefan and @EmilioEstefanJr) footsteps, @Emily_Estefan shares her song of activism, "This Is What (for Justice Sonia Sotomayor)." #SoundsOfChangepic.twitter.com/Y8RIp3jNyN
Brad Paisley performed his 2009 single “Welcome to the Future” during the telecast. The single was inspired by his experience standing in Times Square as a crowd cheered on the historic news that America had elected its first Black president. He later sang the song live for the first time ever at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Did you know?
Before performing tonight on #SoundsOfChange, @BradPaisley previously had performed his song, "Welcome to the Future" for President @BarackObama and First Lady, @MichelleObama at the White House in 2009. pic.twitter.com/t7hB4C4IyG
After a powerful speech about fighting for equality, Yolanda Adams closed the show by singing “We Shall Overcome.” The gospel song became a protest song and a key anthem of the American civil rights movement. Adams was joined by a fantastic gospel choir dressed in bright yellow robes.
Who else is dancing along with @YolandaAdams as she shares her version of the song, "We Shall Overcome”? #SoundsOfChangepic.twitter.com/9jVprYksfi
The 2021 GRAMMY Awards took place on Sunday, March 14. See highlights from the awards ceremony in the video below.
DaBaby and More Black Artists Shine During Powerful GRAMMYs Performances
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