On music’s biggest night, it was all about the ladies—and rightfully so.
The 61st Annual Grammy Awards took place on February 10, and it’s safe to say that it was a pretty high-stakes event. Independent of the actual awards, all eyes were on the notoriously male-centred show, especially because of the controversy surrounding the 2018 ceremony, in which only two women were awarded GRAMMYs during the live telecast. That was also the year that Lorde—the only woman nominated for 2018 Album of the Year—was the only nominee in the category who wasn’t asked to perform solo. Seriously not OK.
In contrast to years past, the 2019 show was unapologetically and fiercely female. For one, women dominated the major categories and the momentum didn’t stop there. From Alicia Keys hosting (the first woman to do so in 14 years!), to the breakout performance of sister duo Chloe x Halle, to Janelle Monáe’s on-stage celebration of bisexuality (featuring her infamous “vagina pants”), women in music were taking names—and sweeping categories.
Below, the five unexpected #GirlPower moments you may have missed from the show.
Cardi B’s badass pianist and historic GRAMMY win
Cardi B’s GRAMMY performance was one of the most anticipated events of the evening, and it started off on a high note. The pianist who opened for her performance of “Money” completely stole the show, and made tickling the ivories look more like telling the ivories who is boss.
OKURRT WHO IS CARDI B’S PIANIST WOW OKAY SO FIERCE #GrammyAwards
— Raina BJ (@I_MakeItRaina) February 11, 2019
— sandra (@stylzed) February 11, 2019
Classical pianist Chloe Flower injected some much needed life into the broadcast with her 10-seconds of screen time, serving a lewk that was basically like a couture-clad Mozart. I mean, who even knew “Money” was something that could be played on the piano? TBH I would 100% have stuck with piano lessons if I’d known it could be *this* badass.
This performance is likely the first time many viewers were introduced to Flower’s power at the piano, but being a total boss is very much on-brand for the New-York based musician. Her Insta is essentially an ode to stunning outfits and hip piano covers—and she gives back, to boot. According to Cosmopolitan, Flower—who was born Chloe Won—supports The Somaly Mam Foundation and Organization, which helps to rescue children from sex slavery. She also partners with CAST LA, an initiative working to end human trafficking and global human rights violations.
But Flower was only one of the ways Cardi B channeled all kinds of girl power on Sunday. Besides rocking the red carpet in a seriously extra rendition of Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” the rapper crashed some notoriously high glass ceilings with her win for Best Rap Album, a category that has previously been dominated by men. Cardi’s win made her the first woman to take home the award solo (In 1997 Lauryn Hill won the Best Rap Album award as part of the Fugees), and she used her time at the mic to talk about juggling motherhood and being a musician.
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) February 11, 2019
Janelle Monáe’s inclusive performance
The future is female, and intersectional.
Superstar Janelle Monáe proved as much with her breathtaking GRAMMYs performance. Taking the stage to perform her hit song “Make me Feel,” the Dirty Computer singer (who identifies as pansexual) changed the song’s lyrics, singing: “Boy you make me feel” and “Girl you make me feel. After the performance, Out wrote that the change was an explicit reference to the song’s status as a bisexual anthem, and was undoubtedly a big moment for bisexual representation on a national stage.
For those that missed Janelle Monae’s full performance at the Grammys, here you go. pic.twitter.com/Zz4iZ3icmj
— CRT (@StoryofEverest) February 11, 2019
In addition to her lyrical statement, Monáe revived the infamous and seriously trendy”vagina pants,” first featured in her “PYNK” music video.
But Monae’s #GirlPower goes beyond the awards show itself. On February 8, the singer hosted Fem the Future, a pre-GRAMMYs brunch meant to celebrate all of the female nominees. Speaking at the brunch, Monáe detailed her own experience trying to find women to work with in the industry, and the lack of gender representation. “It wasn’t because we’re not out there, it was because of the lack of visibility,” she said. “We all want the same thing: for women to be treated with respect, to be treated with dignity, and presented with equal opportunity in all facets of our lives. And while we can acknowledge and celebrate the progress that’s been made in the last year, we still have a long, long way to go.”
Monáe concluded her speech with a rallying cry of support for her fellow GRAMMY nominees, saying: “I support you, win or lose. As you’re walking down that red carpet, and regardless of how your performances goes, you have my support. I love you, I see you.”
Dua Lipa serves up some shade
In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, British singer Dua Lipa made a pointed political statement on the GRAMMYs stage. Accepting her award for Best New Artist, the singer praised her fellow female nominees, before stating: “I guess this year we’ve really stepped up!”
Lipa’s cheeky jab refers to last year’s controversy when, in a statement to Variety, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow told women in the industry that “[they need] to step up” in order to be recognized. Ummm…you need to kindly STFU, sir. Which is effectively, what Lipa was asking him to do with her sly comment.
Michelle Obama’s surprise appearance
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For me, a big part of friendship is showing up for your girls—whether that’s for a birthday, a quick catch-up after work, or a major milestone. So I was thrilled to be there for the one and only @aliciakeys at the #GRAMMYs. She is one of the most genuine, caring, and thoughtful people I know—there’s no one better to help us all celebrate the unifying power of music!
Undoubtedly *the* biggest surprise of the night was the appearance of former FLOTUS Michelle Obama. Our #FOREVERFirstLady took the stage looking like an IRL GRAMMY Award alongside host Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith, as the women recounted why music is important to them. And Obama should have won an award for her speech alone (best voice work at a live event?).
Give Michelle Obama a Grammy
— luka fallback sabbat (@whoisluka) February 11, 2019
“From the Motown records I wore out on the south side to the who-run-the-world songs that fuelled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story,” Obama said. “And I know that’s true for everybody here, whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves, our dignity, our sorrows, our hopes and joys. It allows us to hear one another, to invite one another in. Music shows us that all of it matters, every story, every voice, every note, in every song. Is that right, ladies?” Heck yes!
As a longtime champion for women’s rights and equality, it seems only fitting that Obama would come out to support the ladies on what what was billed as a turning point for women in the music industry.
Diana Ross and Dolly Parton leading their own damn tributes
In a night that was filled with tributes—from a gorgeous ode to Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, to an out-of-step Jennifer Lopez tribute to Motown—the standouts for the night belonged to the Queens of Motown and Country: Diana Ross and Dolly Parton.
Parton—the recipient of this year’s MusiCares Person of the Year award—was centre stage as a bevy of musicians helped sing some of the country Queen’s most iconic hits. Parton was joined by artists such as Kacey Musgraves, Katy Perry and her own goddaughter, Miley Cyrus, but she was undoubtedly the rightful star of the tribute, slaying it in both looks and vocals, and proving that age is legit nothing but a number (FYI, the country songstress is 73 and still fabulous!).
— Mike Adam (@MikeAdamOnAir) February 11, 2019
And the hits just kept on coming when Ross took to the stage in celebration of her 75th birthday. After being introduced by her cuter-than-cute grandson, the Supremes singer worked the stage like the seasoned pro she is and ended her set by wishing herself Happy Birthday on stage—which is particularly amazing since her bday isn’t until March. Honestly, Ross embodies the confidence we all need.
Diana Ross wished herself a happy bday in front of a national audience.
Diana Ross bday is March 26th.
— Tyler R. Tynes (@TylerRickyTynes) February 11, 2019
Once a Queen, always a Queen!