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Category: Awards

Whitney Houston death: Chaka Khan pulls out of Grammys tribute

Chaka Khan

The death of Whitney Houston before a pre-Grammy party at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday night not only sent shock waves through the industry, it also left Grammy producers with the tough task of scrambling to assemble a tribute for the fallen icon.

In the hours after Houston's passing, Grammys Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich and his team announced that Jennifer Hudson would perform a "respectful musical tribute" on the CBS broadcast Sunday. It was reported that Hudson would be joined by soul/funk diva Chaka Khan and possibly others.

Not even an hour before the live show, Khan announced she would be backing out.

TIMELINE: Whitney Houston highs and lows

"As I grieve the loss of my friend and 'little sister,' I don't feel it appropriate to perform at this time," the singer tweeted. "Continue to pray for the family"

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Photo: Chaka Khan on Feb. 8 in New York. Credit: Charles Sykes / Associated Press


Diane Warren shocked, disconcerted after Whitney Houston's death

Diane Warren

Songwriter Diane Warren, who worked on seven songs with Whitney Houston, expressed a deep sense of sadness at the Grammy Awards on Sunday over the loss of the pop icon, as well as shock and a bit of discomfort about the way Houston's death was being handled less than 24 hours after the fact.

"I think people are all feeling really weird," Warren said. "Even at Clive [Davis]'s party last night, Alicia Keys was really good, but sorry, I didn't want to see Pit Bull jumping around the stage."

It was reported by several sources that Pit Bull used explicit language to encourage guests to "party" since Houston herself "loved to party."

PHOTOS: Grammy Awards 2012 arrivals

Warren also was a bit disconcerted, she said, by Tony Bennett's remarks during his performance about how drugs should be legalized in the wake of deaths including Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and now Whitney Houston.

"No, sorry. She got legal drugs from her doctor," Warren said sadly. "So that was inappropriate."

-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Songwriter Diane Warren at the 54th Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on Sunday. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times.


Grammys: Adele wears her heart on her sleeve, songwriters say

Adele at the Grammy Awards 2012

Dan Wilson, who co-wrote, produced and played piano on British singing sensation Adele's No. 1 hit song "Someone Like You," and is likewise nominated for album of the year for his work on "21," appeared on the Grammy Awards red carpet Sunday alongside fellow Adele songwriter Fraser T. Smith.

Both men expressed a great deal of admiration for the young singer, saying that working with her was a pleasure because she made it her mission to bring out the best in them.

But it is Adele's ability to wear her heart on her sleeve and be herself in the face of fame, they said, that has helped her capture and keep the world's attention.

PHOTOS: Grammy Awards 2012 arrivals

"The woman is a musical genius," Wilson said. "She's just a powerhouse of a musical figure and creator. And she can't help but be herself."

"She's got her heart on her sleeve, coupled with integrity and a great sense of humor," Smith added.

Was the thought of a possible Adele sweep dimmed by the shadow of Whitney Houston's death?

"It's gonna take people weeks to process what happened," Wilson said. "Whoever wins, we don't want to take it away from them. But Whitney's such a huge and significant artist."

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— Jessica Gelt

Photo: Singer Adele arrives at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Sunday. Credit: Jason Merritt / Getty Images


Grammys 2012: Jean Baptiste is excited for friend Chris Brown

Quiet and unassuming, Jean Baptiste — who is nominated alongside the controversial Chris Brown for the rap song award for the triumphant single "Look at Me Now" — walked down the Grammys red carpet Sunday answering questions in hushed, respectful tones.

"That's the biggest thing," he replied when asked if Brown's reemergence center stage at the Grammys, three years after his Grammys weekend assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna, was causing a stir. "Chris Brown is an actual friend of mine and seeing him break through with this song again is wonderful."

So this is huge for both of them, right?

PHOTOS: Grammy Awards 2012 arrivals

"It's one of his biggest singles ever," Baptiste said. "It took on a life of its own."

The creation of the song "was me and Chris in the studio being really goofy and having a great time creating."

What else helped?

"Just a bottle of Jameson's," Baptiste said, smiling shyly.

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Grammys 2012: Mumford & Sons work the deja vu angle

Mumford & Sons

Ben Lovett and Ted Dwayne of the British folk rock band Mumford & Sons were a bit sheepish about appearing on the carpet at the Grammys for the second time in as many years for the same debut album, "Sigh No More."

Last year the band skyrocketed to international attention with their best new artist nomination, and this year they were back for the song "The Cave," which is nominated for record of the year.

"It's a bit of deja vu," said Dwayne. "It's as much of an honor, but it's still the same record, and we're here celebrating artists with new records."

PHOTOS: Grammy Awards 2012 arrivals

"When we heard, we were like, 'Wait! It's 2012. We should have a new album out now,' " Lovett added.

The band members, who were on their way to Clive Davis' pre-Grammy party Saturday night when they heard the news of pop legend Whitney Houston's death, expressed a deep sense of sadness about the loss. The said they initially were surprised that Davis' party was not canceled, but realized why it wasn't when the event turned into a memorial tribute for the lost singer, with Davis speaking eloquently about how much Houston would have wanted the Grammys to go on as a celebration of the music and artists she loved so much.

"Last night Clive Davis spoke so well on the subject," Lovett said, shaking his head slowly. "It's an undeniable tragedy, and it's so soon after the event, there's a lot of grieving yet to happen."

The band is in the thick of getting a new album out into the world, but they say they have no expectations of being on the Grammys carpet again next year.

"But we'd like to attend whether we're nominated or not," Lovett said, while Dwayne smiled in agreement.

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— Jessica Gelt

Photo: Mumford & Sons at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times.


Grammys 2012: The Band Perry giddy, 'surrounded by our heroes'

Kimberly Perry of the Band Perry

Nominated for best new artist, the giddy Band Perry were beside themselves Sunday about performing with country star Glen Campbell later during the Grammy Awards telecast.

The band of well-coiffed siblings, whose song "All Your Life" is currently the No. 1 country song on Billboard, said they were "over the moon" about the whole experience.

"I have a bit of nervous energy, because we're surrounded by our heroes and we're real fancy and dressed up," singer Kimberly Perry said.

PHOTOS: Grammy Awards 2012 arrivals

"I just eat a lot of nervous food, like pita and hummus," bassist Reid Perry added.

All three — Neil Perry rounds out the group — said that besides performing with Campbell they were most excited to see Paul McCartney, in front of whom they'd already rehearsed.

"I can't believe we sang for a Beatle!" gushed Kimberly, who then struck a somber note to talk about her love for Whitney Houston, who died Saturday at age 48.

"We're heartbroken. We were performing in Tacoma, Wash., last night when we heard," she said. "It's a shock that we lost her so early. She was one of my most favorite singers.

"I remember singing 'I Will Always Love You' in the car with my mother."

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Photo: Kimberly Perry of the Band Perry arrives at the 2012 Grammy Awards on Sunday. Credit: Larry Busacca / Getty Images.

 

 


Grammy Awards 2012: Steve Martin arrives early on 'a sad day'

Steve Martin at the 2012 Grammy Awards

Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Grammy Awards-nominated for bluegrass album for "Rare Bird Alert," walked the red carpet at the early hour of 12:45 p.m. Sunday.

Dressed in an unassuming light gray suit with black-rimmed glasses, Martin said the Grammys was a more relaxed scene than the Oscars red carpet, where you have to dress to the nines no matter what.

As expected, Whitney Houston, whose tragic death collided squarely with Grammys weekend, was first and foremost on everyone's mind, and the mood on the carpet was understandably muted.

PHOTOS: Grammy Awards 2012 arrivals

"I think I damaged my hearing from listening to her so loud and so long," Martin said. "It's a sad day."

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-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Steve Martin at the 2012 Grammy Awards. Credit: Larry Busacca / Getty Images

 


Kelly Rowland: Blue Ivy's 'auntie' talks 'X Factor,' Essence award

Kelly Rowland

International songstress Kelly Rowland -- an "auntie" to Blue Ivy Carter -- will be honored by Essence magazine Wednesday as part of its Black Women in Music event, just in time for this year's Grammy Awards.

We caught up with Rowland to talk about her fellow females, working for Simon Cowell, new music and of course longtime BFF Beyonce's world-famous newborn.

The former Destiny's Child member has long been a solo star in her own right, with three successful records (her most recent sparking the worldwide David Guetta phenomenon) and a seat on last year's British edition of "The X Factor."

Ministry of Gossip: Essence is celebrating you and longtime music industry exec Sylvia Rhone. Who were the women who inspired you, coming up? 

Kelly Rowland: My own mother, for sure. And Beyonce's mother, Tina Knowles. You know we grew up in the hair salon [Tina's, in Houston], myself and Beyonce, and there were so many interesting women there. Art dealers, doctors, lawyers. And look at Sylvia Rhone, she's a legend. She's found so many amazing acts.

MoG: It's ideal when any community is supportive of its own, but music is very competitive. What's the key to stamina as a woman in the business?

KR: Hunger. You know, I still love this after so many years. It's loving what you do, looking for ways to reinvent the wheel. And know that this is a business but also an opportunity.

MoG: You're also performing at Wednesday's event. What's in store?

KR: Plenty! We're going to have fun. I'm gonna take 'em to a Destiny's Child moment, a solo moment. Eve [who collaborated on 2007's "Like This" with Rowland] is going to make an appearance.

MoG: You were a huge hit abroad this year as a judge on "The X Factor" in Britain. That franchise is in the same contract shuffle that the U.S. version is going through. Will you go back? 

KR: I know as much as anyone else. Everything is up in the air, but that's the excitement of working with Simon Cowell. He's unpredictable. And the U.K. is just on fire with talent. It's remarkable that people, the country, stays in on Saturday night to watch the show.

MoG: So you're busy with work, but obviously there's been some personal excitement with the arrival of Blue Ivy. How is the family doing?

KR: They're great. I'm just so happy she's here. And beautiful -- such a beautiful baby.

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Photo: Kelly Rowland at the BET Honors 2012 in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 14. Credit: Kris Connor / Getty Images


Shakira honored with France's arts and letters medal

Shakira receives her Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from Frederic Mitterrand

Singer Shakira has been honored by France as a Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, becoming the first Colombian to receive the honor.

Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand presented the medal to Shakira, who in addition to her music — for which she was recognized — is known for her philanthropic work on behalf of children.

"I believe that every child should have the right to follow their dreams and get an education," she says on her website. "Growing up in Colombia, I saw that education can be a child's way out of poverty and a way to fulfill his or her potential. It is a basic right, but too often poor children are shut out."

She goes on to note the number of children worldwide who don't go to primary and secondary school, and calls on governments to, among other things, prioritize education funding. On a more practical level, in recent years she's gotten five schools built back home.

Note that this honor is different from the Chevalier Legion d'Honneur, a knighthood recently bestowed upon actress Salma Hayek amid whispers that she'd gone on the list only because her billionaire husband Francois-Henri Pinault is a close friend of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres recognizes significant contributions to the arts and literature and has previously gone to folks including Clint Eastwood, George Clooney and T.S. Eliot. The Chevalier Legion d'Honneur recognizes significant service to the nation of France and sprang from the mind of Napoleon Bonaparte.

"Hips Don't Lie" singer Shakira was in Cannes to open Saturday's NRJ Music Awards with her song "Je L'Aime a Mourir" — watch it below.

 

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Photo: French culture minister Frederic Mitterrand pins the Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres on Shakira in Cannes, France, on Saturday. Credit: Lionel Cironneau / Associated Press


Vanity Fair Hollywood issue gets fresh with Mara, Chastain

Rooney Mara, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska and more cover the VF Hollywood Issue

Some lovely faces are trumpeting the approaching Oscars ceremony, thanks to Monday's unveiling of the Vanity Fair Hollywood issue, which stars fresh faces Rooney Mara, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and more.

Soft pastels and finger waves help the crop of young actresses bring an Old Hollywood cover tableau to life, with its extended pages featuring Elizabeth Olsen, Adepero Oduye, Shailene Woodley, Paula Patton, Felicity Jones, Lily Collins and Brit Marling.  

Among the makeup chair revelations imparted in video from the shoot was Mara's confession that she hadn't seen "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." 

"I haven't seen it yet," she said. "I didn't watch dailies. Sometimes I'd watch playback if it would help."

Also, with fellow Oscar nominee and prolific newbie Chastain, she'd discussed the one movie they'd never switch the channel for: "Me and Jessica were just talking about 'Zoolander.' It's probably a guilty pleasure." 

Check out glam, girly video from the shoot below and tell us your thoughts on the Hollywood issue in comments. 

 

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— Matt Donnelly
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Photo: Rooney Mara, left, Jennifer Lawrence, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Elizabeth Olsen, Adepero Oduye, Shailene Woodley, Paula Patton, Felicity Jones, Lily Collins and Brit Marling. Credit: Mario Testino / Vanity Fair


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