Lionel Richie, Brittany Howard and More Deliver Powerful In Memoriam at 2021 Grammy Awards

Lionel Richie
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Lionel Richie performs during a tribute to the late Kenny Rogers onstage during the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards broadcast on March 14, 2021.

During the 2021 Grammys telecast, host Trevor Noah introduced a special version of the show's standard In Memoriam segment, which included a handful of touching performances from Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, Lionel Richie, Brittany Howard and more.

It also featured Eddie Van Halen's guitar under a single spotlight, clips of hits from The Supremes in honor of Mary Wilson, Charley Pride's "Kiss An Angel Good Morning" and music from the late Italian composer Ennio Morricone.

Also included in the memoriam were artists Pop Smoke and Sophie and former Grammys director/producer Walter C. Miller among many others.

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The tribute opened with a recording of Bill Withers "Ain't No Sunshine" before Mars and .Paak -- who made their live debut as Silk Sonic, performing "Leave The Door Open," earlier in the show -- appeared on stage to pay homage to Little Richard with a rousing performance of the late singer's hits "Long Tall Sally" and "Good Golly, Miss Molly."

Lionel Richie later honored his longtime friend, the late Kenny Rogers, with a performance of "Lady" (which Richie wrote and produced). Brandi Carlile paid tribute to John Prine, who died from COVID-19 complications, with a performance of "I Remember Everything" and a few words of gratitude: "We thank you, John, for everything." Prine won two posthumous Grammy awards this evening.

And finally, Brittany Howard and Chris Martin -- both of whom are Grammy nominated this year -- duetted on Rodgers & Hammerstein's “You’ll Never Walk Alone," which was later recorded and released by Gerry and The Pacemakers (Gerry Marsden died at the top of 2021). Martin played piano, while Howard closed the memoriam with fitting and uplifting words delivered as a warm sonic hug.

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