As you all know or have heard by now, I am a die-hard Ray Charles fan. So it is no surprise to know that I was keeping my eye on the 47th annual Grammys tonight as "Ray Charles: Genius Loves Company" was nominated for Album of the Year. What I wasn't expecting was such an interesting display of talent. Sure, it is the Grammys, but we are living in a post-wardrobe malfunction society that tends to censor everything. There was a tribute to gospel music that was rather odd to say the least and a middle-finger salute from Billy Joe (lead singer of Green Day) as he knew his language would be blurped as he sang "American Idiot," but the good stuff was later...Both the Ray Charles and Janis Joplin tributes were excellent.
First, Ray Charles is simply genius. You could have a no-name artist on stage singing "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" and I would have been happy, but as the memoriam played and Ray's voice begins, Bonnie Raitt (a 9- time Grammy award winner and "Genius" collaborator) casually takes her place on stage and sings "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" with all the respect Mr. Charles deserves. Other tributes were made to Charles as Norah Jones won for her duet with him and commented that "it just just shows how wonderful music can be--its 100% with Ray Charles."
Second, the tribute to Janis Joplin. I missed why they were having a tribute to Joplin, but quickly understood the magnitude of the performance. On stage, bald and brilliant, was Melissa Etheridge. I'm a big Melissa Etheridge fan (and no it is in no way comparable to being a k.d. Lang fan) so I was excited just to hear her, but a few months ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been having the battle of her lifetime. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy (hence the baldness) and yet there she was singing with every bit of energy in her. It was amazing! When she was done, I thought, and I'm sure many others thought as well, that it was the performance of her lifetime. Singing "Piece of My Heart" at the top of her lungs, with Lance Armstrong (sporting a Livestrong wristband) on the front row cheering her on, she was awesome. If that were the last performance of her life, she'd be going out on top.
There was also a collaboration in support of the Tsunami victims that included an array of talent including U2, Aerosmith, Stevie Wonder, Norah Jones, Brian Wilson, Tim McGraw, and Alicia Keys. It was interesting to hear "Across the Universe" from such a variety of musicians.
For the Grammys it wasn't too bad. (Oh, like I'd forget-- "Genius Loves Company" was the winner in the best album category. If you don't own it, this is a wise investment!)