“Tonight is for Kobe,” singer Lizzo told the audience before she began belting out an energetic performance of her hit, “Cuz I Love You.”
Host Alicia Keys then took the stage to ask viewers to keep Bryant, 41, his daughter, Gianna, and other victims from the helicopter crash that took their lives on Sunday in their prayers.
“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.”
Host Alicia Keys speaks onstage during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, Calif.
(Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
She said the audience was “heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”
“Right now Kobe and his daughter Gianna … are in our spirits, they’re in our hearts, they’re in prayers, they’re in this building,” she added. “Take a moment and hold them inside of you and share our strength and our support with their families.”
Keys was then joined onstage by Boyz II Men on Sunday to sing an a capella version of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” at the Staples Center — Bryant’s stomping ground — as the audience watched in awe.
Keys also reminded the audience that Bryant “loved music.”
Nathan Morris, from left, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, of Boyz II Men, and Alicia Keys, second left, sing a tribute in honor of the late Kobe Bryant at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday.
She added: “So we gotta make this a celebration in his honor. He would want us to keep the vibrations high. Music is that one language we all speak.”
After the opening, Lizzo took home the first award off the night for best pop solo performance, where she told the audience that Bryant’s death served as a reminder not to take life for granted or to stress the small things.
Lizzo performs onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
“This whole week I [was] lost in my problems, stressed out, then in an instant all of that can go away and your priorities really shift,” she told the audience in her acceptance speech. “Today all my little problems I thought were as big as the world were gone. People are hurting right now.”
Usher performs onstage during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards in a musical tribute to Prince.
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Also amping up the crowd was Usher, who channeled Prince in a tribute to the late “Purple Rain” singer. The 41-year-old was joined by FKA Twigs and Sheila E, who all received a standing ovation within the Staples Center, which was lit up purple in remembrance of the star who passed away in April 2016.
Lizzo was 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, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus and late rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Nipsey Hussle, who will be honored during the live telecast which begins at 8 p.m. Eastern, has posthumously won best rap performance for “Racks in the Middle,” which features Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy.
Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas, and Kevin Jonas of music group Jonas Brothers perform onstage during the Grammys.
(Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
New stars like Lizzo, Eilish and Lil Nas X — the most-nominated acts Sunday — won their first Grammys of their careers and have chance to win more, though a cloud loomed over this year’s awards.
10 days before arguably the biggest night in music, the industry erupted when the Recording Academy announced it had put its recently hired CEO, Deborah Dugan, on administrative leave for misconduct. Dugan and her lawyers fired back at the academy, claiming that the awards show is rigged.
The show will be jam-packed with performances, including Ariana Grande, BTS, Camila Cabello, Demi Lovato, Jonas Brothers, Rosalia, Aerosmith, Bonnie Raitt, Tyler, the Creator, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, John Legend and Cyndi Lauper.
The show will also include special tributes to Prince and longtime Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich, who is wrapping up his career with the show Sunday.
Taylor Swift was shut out of album and record of the year, but she did score a nod for song of the year — a songwriter’s award. Her tune “Lover” is nominated against “Truth Hurts,” “Bad Guy,” “Hard Place,” Gaga’s “Always Remember Us This Way” from “A Star Is Born,” Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved,” Lana Del Rey’s “Norman (Expletive) Rockwell” and Tucker’s “Bring My Flowers Now,” which was co-written by Brandi Carlile.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.