Star-Packed Performances Power Grammys

As has become tradition, the CBS broadcast of the Grammy Awards ceremony was more about performances than awards. Of the 107 Grammys handed out, only 11 were presented during last night's (Feb. 13) th

As has become tradition, the CBS broadcast of the Grammy Awards ceremony was more about performances than awards. Of the 107 Grammys handed out, only 11 were presented during last night's (Feb. 13) three-and-a-half hour televised event from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Conversely, there were twice as many performances, many of which were one-of-a-kind affairs, leaving even a jaded rock star like U2 singer Bono to say, "I actually think this is the best Grammy's I've ever seen."

The centerpiece was an all-star performance of the Beatles' "Across the Universe" that will raise funds for tsunami relief. Seizing the singular opportunity that only a major awards show can provide, the Recording Academy arranged the participation of Bono, Stevie Wonder, Norah Jones, Brian Wilson, Alicia Keys, Green Day's Billy Joe Armstrong, Tim McGraw, Scott Weiland and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler to sing the song, backed by rock act Velvet Revolver and bluegrass mainstay Alison Krauss on violin.

At the show's conclusion, an audio recording of the song became available via Apple's iTunes music store, with proceeds to benefit Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund. Streaming video of the performance can be accessed at, with several relief donation options offered to those who watch.

"The music industry is coming together to do what we do best: tTo heal and to help," Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said of the effort near the show's conclusion.

Melissa Etheridge made her first public performance since undergoing treatment for breast cancer, joining Joss Stone in a tribute to Lifetime Achievement honoree Janis Joplin. Smiling as she stepped from the shadows and newly bald from the effects radiation treatment, Etheridge delivered a rendition of "Piece of My Heart" that brought the arena to its feet and earned thumbs up from Joplin's family in the audience.

Moments before Kanye West picked up his best rap album award, he basked in a standing ovation for his theatrical performance of "Jesus Walks" that incorporated Mavis Staples and John Legend singing "I'll Take You There" and the Blind Boys of Alabama adding "I'll Fly Away."

Late in the show, Usher performed his latest single, "Caught Up," showcasing dance moves that have earned him comparisons to Michael Jackson and James Brown. Fittingly, the Godfather of Soul joined Usher for a run through the classic "Sex Machine" that left Brown to proclaim his protege "the new Godson."

The show's opening boasted five acts on four stages, with the Black Eyed Peas' performing "Let's Get It Started," Gwen Stefani joined by Eve for "Rich Girl," Los Lonely Boys delivering "Heaven," Maroon5 playing "This Love" and Franz Ferdinand turning out "Take Me Out." In what was surely the Grammys' first (and probably last) "mash-up," all five acts closed out the segment with a cacophonous simultaneous performance.

Other one-time collaborations included Jamie Foxx's rendition of Ray Charles' "Georgia on My Mind" with Quincy Jones and Alicia Keys (after her own solo performance of "If I Ain't Got You"). A tribute to Southern rock found country stars Tim McGraw, Keith Urban and Gretchen Wilson joining Lynyrd Skynyrd, Elvin Bishop and Dickey Betts for runs through "Freebird," "Fooled Around and Fell In Love," "Ramblin' Man" and "Sweet Home Alabama."

Even host Queen Latifah got in on the action, adding her rendition of "Lush Life"/"Baby Get Lost" to the mix, while newlyweds Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez made their first public performance together, singing passionately in Spanish in the midst of a bedroom set.

U2 performed "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own," which Bono dedicated to his late father, and Green Day ripped through its award-winning "American Idiot." McGraw delivered his "Live Like You Were Dying" and John Mayer performed his award-winning "Daughters."

One of the show's most moving performances was its most brief. Following a video montage paying respects to those the music community lost this year, Bonnie Raitt and Billy Preston paid tribute to the night's biggest winner, Ray Charles, with a solemn rendition of "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind."

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.