The 62nd annual Grammys award show aired on January 26th, 2020; a day that will go down in history remembered in a very different light than its usual glamour; earlier that same day, the legendary basketball player and former LA Laker Kobe Bryant was killed alongside eight other people—including his thirteen year old daughter—in a tragic helicopter crash.
It was one of those headlines that you don’t really believe when you see it. How could someone as invincible and untouchable as Bryant seemed to be, be taken off this earth in a split second? It didn’t seem real. Countless people weighed in on the situation, near and far, as it clouded the minds of thousands all over the country and world, well into the following weeks.
While every news outlet, social media network, and pre-show broadcasting program was covering and discussing the event, music was getting glammed for its biggest night on the red carpet— held at none other than what’s referred to as “Kobe’s Kingdom.”
The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California is the home court of the Lakers: the team Bryant had played his entire career for.
Some of music’s biggest stars cancelled their on-carpet interviews, others used them to give their heart to Bryant’s family dealing with this unimaginable grief of losing a husband, father, and child all in one minute— but the entire award show, not only dedicated to memorializing Kobe Bryant, taught us that it’s okay to acknowledge what’s happened and keep going. It taught us that we can start to move forward and encouraged us to do so by being better people. The events turned into major reminders that came from this unthinkable tragedy.
Alicia Keys was the host for the 2020 Grammys. She began immediately by giving a somber introduction, completely acknowledging the way she, the entire audience, and the entire world was feeling that day before singing alongside Boys II Men, an intimate version of the song “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” a beautiful and heart-wrenching song that had stars crying in their seats. It’s definitely worth the watch or read.
Key’s show-opening statement earned her gratitude from the various presenters and performers throughout the show, as it was the much needed acknowledgement that people needed.
It just didn’t feel right to keep things moving, without taking a step back and realizing how tragic this event truly was. The night went on, with performances across the board that embodied the true meaning of music: passion.
Camila Cabello sang an emotional tribute to her father, Demi Lovato gave us insight to her struggle and pain, Lil Nas X showed us the journey from having an idea in your bedroom to topping the charts with a number of remixes coming later on, with a cool, smooth performance that featured a Bryant jersey draped across an armchair. Tyler, the Creator delivered a wild and encapsulating performance to say the least, Ariana Grande’s stunning set and return to the Grammys was her hits come to life and as stunning as ever, and the Jonas Brothers celebrated their return to music, to name a few examples.
Bryant’s death was a motif that was carried throughout the entire show, and as an audience member baffled by the event but a sucker for those award shows, I thought the 2020 Grammys were a phenomenal accomplishment of remembrance, acceptance, celebration of expression and togetherness.
The 2020 Grammys served as the first big event after this wake-up call that Kobe’s death acted as. The accident had happened that very morning of the show— hours before stars arrived on the carpet. A show prepared months in advance was tweaked to incorporate what the audience needed in a matter of hours.
The realization that this happened is a reminder to us all that life is short; that even the things we couldn’t imagine happening in a million years can happen in seconds and change so many people’s lives.
Love harder. Smile more. Communicate always. Life is just too short. Be a good human, help people, support people, give to people, protect people, inspire people. Life is full of celebration, and life is full of times of loss. Life is happy, life is sad. And yet, on the darkest days life is expressive, colorful and passionate. The 2020 Grammys encapsulated it all.
Rest in Peace: Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan.