Camila Cabello kicked off the 2019 Grammy Awards with flash and style, with a show-opening blast of Latin pop flavor during a steamy performance of “Havana” that included J Balvin, Ricky Martin, Young Thug and legendary Cuban-American jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval.
The performance, which included cameos from her abuela, sister and parents, opened with a brightly colored set dressed to look like a street in Cuba, serving as an homage to the jams that took place on the patio at Cabello’s grandmother’s childhood home in Havana.
With extras scattered about dancing, banging on improvised percussion, playing dice and hanging on the corner, Cabello — wearing a yellow skirt and matching bikini top that echoed the hue of her dress in the “Havana” video — stripped off a red robe as a friend primped her inside a pink-lit bedroom.
Making her way to a green room next door, Cabello threw in some Spanglish riffs as the neighbor downstairs banged on the ceiling, even as the singer made her way down a fire escape to join a group of dancers in primary colored dresses swinging colorful bandanas. Dropping a yellow one, Cabello caught the attention of Thug, who strolled up in bejeweled tux with silver boots for a verse backed by a group of loose-hipped male and female dancers.
The street jam heated up as Martin shimmied out in a white suit and spun Cabello around and the stage exploded in a riot of sensual salseros. Sandoval took a bleating solo, segueing smoothly into Balvin’s spotlight, which opened with him sitting on a park bench reading a paper with the pointed headline “Build Bridges Not Walls.”
Balvin, wearing a red track suit, asked where his people were in Spanish during a bit of “Mi Gente,” as he joined Cabello and Martin center stage to soak in the the standing ovation.
“Havana (Live)” was up for best pop solo performance tonight, though Cabello lost to Lady Gaga.
Watch the full performance below.