They made their mark. The 2020 Grammys remembered all of those we’ve lost over the last year on Sunday, January 26. Honoring both the stars and those who work behind the scenes, the In Memoriam called out artists like Doris Day, Neil Peart from Rush, and many more. The music accompanying the tribute was performed by Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Trombone Shorty.
Though Prince passed away in 2016, the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards dedicated a few minutes to his memory as Sheila E. and Usher performed. Late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was shot and killed in March 2019, also got a special shout-out. Peers and collaborators Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill, Roddy Ricch and YG took the stage in his honor.
“An activist, entrepreneur and rapper, Nipsey Hussle had a lasting impact on not just his community, but also the culture at large,” Grammy Awards executive producer Ken Ehrlich said in a press release. “There is no denying the influence he had and his legacy will be felt for generations to come. We are honored to bring together this amazing group of artists to celebrate Nipsey’s life and pay tribute to his many contributions to music. It’s sure to be a memorable performance.”
The tradition of airing an In Memoriam section at the Grammys began in the early 2000s, long after most awards shows had adopted the practice. Soon, it evolved to feature musical performances as well as a slideshow of those who passed. In 2016, David Wild, one of the awards show’s writers and producers, explained the decision to Billboard.
“He began to see how performances could be integrated to make it emotionally more significant,” Wild said about Ehrlich. “[The tributes] will be sad and depressing, but I don’t think it’s a morbid fascination. When you’re paying tribute to music people with music, it’s by definition celebratory.” Now, those moments bring the crowd and the audience at home together. “It becomes kind of like [the play Our Town,” he continued. “A moment when people are together almost at the town center and you can deal with losses and work them out in different ways.”