A Celebration of Black Music and Excellence Culminates During Grammy Week

A Celebration of Black Music and Excellence Culminates During Grammy Week

The 65th Grammy Awards was a big night for the culture

Beyonce was crowned the “Grammy GOAT” after scoring her record-breaking 32nd Grammy win. Hip-hop fans were delighted with an electrifying tribute celebrating the genre’s 50th anniversary, featuring performances from legendary rappers like LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, and Run DMC along with new acts like Lil Uzi Vert and GloRilla. Meanwhile, Viola Davis’ Grammy win for her audiobook memoir, “Finding Me,” earned her entry into the elite EGOT club, making her one of only a handful of Black entertainers to ever win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award. Plus, Lizzo was lauded with Record of the Year, one of the biggest awards of the night, for her song, “About Damn Time,” while Dr. Dre was honored with the Global Impact Award.

However, the celebration of Black musicians started days before “Music’s Biggest Night.” During Grammy Week—a constellation of events that led up to the award show on February 5—The Recording Academy, along with other brands and organizations, paid tribute to leading Black artists with a series of live events.

Grammy Week
(L-R) Busta Rhymes, Flavor Flav, and LL Cool J perform onstage during the 65th Grammy Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 0, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Here’s a roundup of some of the most notable events that recognized Black artistry during Grammy Week.


The Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors

Black Music Collective
Dr. Dre accepts the Recording Academy Global Impact Award onstage during the Recording Academy Honors presented by The Black Music Collective during the 65th Grammy Awards on February 2, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Held on February 2 at the Hollywood Palladium, the Black Music Collective’s Recording Academy Honors celebrated Black excellence and the legacy of hip-hop. During the event, rap icons Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre, and Missy Elliott along with music executive Sylvia Rhone were bestowed with a Global Impact Award. Each award was presented by the honorees’ close colleagues and friends, followed by a special performance by artists who had worked with or been influenced by the awardee. Artists like Snoop Dogg, Ciara, Busta Rhymes, and Chloe Bailey performed during their individual tributes.

“The birth of hip-hop completely changed the course of my life. Just imagine where a lot of Black men, including myself, would be without hip-hop,” Dr. Dre said during his acceptance speech.

Grammy Awards
Ciara and honoree Lil Wayne attend the Recording Academy Honors presented by The Black Music Collective during the 65th Grammy Awards on February 2, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Established in 2020, The Black Music Collective (BMC) is comprised of Black executives and music professionals dedicated to the inclusion, recognition, and advancement of Black music and its creators within the Recording Academy and the music industry at large. Each year, the organization hosts the Recording Academy Honors, a concert-style event that features live tribute performances and A-list attendees to celebrate the achievements of Black artists.

“The creation of the BMC is one of the things that I’m most proud of,” said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason, Jr., according to Grammy.com. “Establishing the BMC did more than just boost the number of Black members of the Academy; it did more than help make changes to the awards processes. It provided a platform to give Black music creators a voice—a powerful voice that can tell us the things we needed to hear.”

MusiCares 2023 Persons of The Year gala

MusiCares Persons of the Year Honoring Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson
(L-R) Honorees Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy attend MusiCares Persons of the Year at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 3, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

The Recording Academy’s MusiCares 2023 Persons of The Year Gala honored Motown legends Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson with heartfelt tributes and show-stopping performances. Held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 3, a wide range of acts—from Stevie Wonder to the Temptations to Brandi Carlile to Chloe and Halle Bailey and Sheryl Crow—crooned classic Motown hits. Robinson also performed a ballad that he dedicated to his fellow award recipient and best friend.

“In my life, I’ve been blessed enough to get a few awards, but this one is really the most special to me because I’m getting this award with my very best friend in the world,” Robinson said of Gordy. “I’m standing here tonight because when I first met this man, it was the beginning of my dream come true. I wanted to be a singer, to be in show business, write songs, and make music. I never thought it would be possible for me from where I grew up. But he took me under his wing,” he continued. “I love you man. You are so precious.”

Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder performs onstage during MusiCares Persons of the Year Honoring Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 03, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

For the last 32 years, the MusiCares gala benefit has paid homage to a collective of music icons while raising proceeds to support music professionals with health and human services across a spectrum of needs.

2023 Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala

The Recording Academy
Jennifer Hudson performs at Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Gala on February 4, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

The legendary Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala returned to the Beverly Hilton February 4 following a two-year pandemic-induced hiatus, bringing out a wide range of A-list stars from Lizzo to Janelle Monae to Cardi B.

Kevin Costner started the night with moving remarks about pop icon Whitney Houston, who died at the Beverly Hilton in 2012, hours before Davis’ annual dinner.

“We both were struck by Whitney the first time we ever saw her,” Costner said of his Bodyguard co-star. “Thank you for being her bodyguard, Clive.”

Davis, the 90-year-old music industry titan, also addressed the crowd several times throughout the evening, calling out elite members of the audience like Earth Wind and Fire and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The night was topped off with performances from Lil Wayne, Lil Baby, Jennifer Hudson, Latto, and Tony Award-winning star Myles Frost, amongst others.

Grammy Week
Lizzo and Myke Wright attend Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Gala on February 4, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Before the gala, Gospel singer Kim Burrell became emotional reflecting on Houston’s shocking death, admitting that she had “mixed” feelings about the annual fete. “I can’t deny the love I feel returning back here because I have the strength to do it and the courage to do it. And [Whitney] would want me to,” she told BLACK ENTERPRISE.

 The Whitney Houston Hotel

Recording Academy
(Photo: Gonzalo Marroquin/Getty Images for Primary Wave Music and the Estate of Whitney E. Houston)

The W Hotel in Hollywood was transformed into the “Whitney Houston Hotel” during Grammy Week to honor the pop legend’s life and extraordinary career.

Primary Wave Music, the Estate of Whitney E. Houston, and Sony Music teamed up to celebrate what would have been Houston’s 60th birthday year in a series of events and activations held at the hotel. The events began with the opening of Sony’s 360 Reality Audio Immersive Listening Lounge, which allowed listeners to experience Whitney Houston’s music like never before.

There were also several live performances of Houston’s biggest hits from artists like Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, actress and Grammy-nominated singer Amber Riley, Warner Records artists Baby Tate and Teddy Swims, and Def Jam Recordings’ Coco Jones.

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston’s iconic gowns on display at W Hollywood on February 1, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo: Gonzalo Marroquin/Getty Images for Primary Wave Music and the Estate of Whitney E. Houston)

Another highlight at the hotel was a memorabilia exhibit featuring photos of Houston as well as several career-defining gowns that she wore and a pop-up shop with exclusive merchandise and electronics.

On Friday, there was a private panel discussion and brunch catered by renowned chef Deborah VanTrece. Famous for adding an international flare to traditional Southern dishes, VanTrece’s eight-course buffet included Angus beef short-rib hash, grilled salmon and fried green tomato Benedict, pimento cheese grits, a Cajun frittata, and a Southern tofu scramble with black-eyed peas and collard greens.

Grammy Award
Award-winning Chef Deborah VanTrece of VanTrece Hospitality Group at the Whitney Houston Brunch and Panel Discussion at the W Hollywood in Hollywood, California. (Photo: Michele Stueven)

The event continued with a touching panel discussion moderated by Entertainment Tonight’s Kevin Frazier. Houston’s brother Gary Houston and his wife, Pat Houston, who was Whitney’s manager; music producer and close friend Rickey Minor; recording artist Narada Michael Walden; and award-winning songwriter Gordon Chambers shared intimate accounts and memories of the beloved singer.

“There were so many magic moments growing up with Whitney,” Gary Houston told the crowd. “At 3 years old, she was in the basement wearing my mother’s wig–broom, gown, mimicking our mom Cissy Houston. She had no idea anybody was watching her. I knew at that moment she was a prodigy.”

Whitney Houston
Panel featuring: Pat Houston, executor of Whitney E. Houston Estate; Whitney Houston’s brother, Gary Houston; music producer Rickey Minor; award-winning producer Narada Michael Walden; award-winning songwriter Gordon Chambers, and moderator Kevin Frazier of “Entertainment Tonight”

Jazmine Sullivan Performs at The Grey Goose Essences: Sound Sessions Brunch


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Grey Goose vodka hosted its hit Grammy weekend brunch party, “GREY GOOSE x GRAMMYs: Sound Sessions Brunch.” The rooftop affair was held at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles on February 4 and featured a live performance from two-time Grammy winner Jazmine Sullivan, who belted out four of her soulful songs. Along with Sullivan’s sultry voice, guests were treated to delicious light bites and The Passion Drop, a citrusy-sweet martini cocktail that served as the official drink of the Grammy Awards.

Insecure actor Jay Ellis, model Jasmine Sanders, British singer-rapper Estelle, actress-singers Laura Marano, Amber Riley, Serayah, actress Lana Condor, and The Real Housewives of Potomac cast member Candiace Dillard Bassett were among those in attendance.

Afrozons Pre-Grammy Nomination Celebration

Afrozons, a Chicago-based Afrobeats radio show created by international media personality Sheila O., celebrated African Grammy nominees in a February 4 daytime soiree. During the event, Nigerian-American rapper and singer Tobe Nwigwe, who was nominated for Best New Artist, along with Recording Academy Board of Trustees Vice Chair Rico Love stressed the importance of representation and inclusion of Black artists from around the diaspora.

“We came and got involved so that we can change the way that the establishment is run,” said Love, a Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer who was elected last year as Chair of the Black Music Collective. “The only way we can change things is by getting involved. So, a lot of people might say, ‘f–k the Grammys. They don’t show us love.’ But the only way to change that is to get inside [of the organization] and disrupt everything that’s going on.”


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A post shared by Dr Sheila O (@sheilaozons)

Sheila O, a voting member of the Recording Academy, also held a pre-Grammy nomination celebration in Lagos, Nigeria, late last month to celebrate Nwigwe and Ghanaian artist Rocky Dawuni, who was nominated for Best Global Music Performance.

The Roc Nation Brunch


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A post shared by ♔Winnie Harlow♔ (@winnieharlow)

The essence of Black excellence, high-fashion, and industry heavyweights reached its peak at the annual Roc Nation Brunch hosted by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Beyonce Knowles-Carter. A slew of stars across music, entertainment, and sports dressed their best for the exclusive soiree held in a private location in Bel-Air the day before the Grammys. Upon arrival, guests were greeted by an orchestra on the path leading to the outdoor venue. The roofless foyer was decorated with photos from past Roc Nation Brunches, including a portrait of Lauren London and Nipsey Hussle taken in 2019.

Dubbed as “a celebration of the highest elevation of self,” Kelly Rowland, Tyler The Creator, Ella Mai, Chlöe and Halle Bailey, June Ambrose, Lil Kim, Tems, Babyface, Jimmy Jam were some of the high-profile guests in attendance.

MasterCard Launches “She Runs This”

(Image: Rich Polk/@polkimaging)

MasterCard teamed up with Femme It Forward to launch the “She Runs This: Celebrating Entrepreneurship in Business and Hip-Hop” program during Grammy Week. The three-day event series included a holistic campaign inclusive of an immersive “Small Business City” in Meta Horizon Worlds, a TikTok challenge, the kickoff of a Fearless Fund grant contest, and a national ad campaign.

Lil Kim, Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, and Coi Leray were featured in panel discussions about entrepreneurship, women in business, and hip-hop. Mastercard ambassador Jennifer Hudson also made a special appearance.

“Like the musical talent who shaped hip-hop, Black women small business owners continue to embrace the power of perseverance, going above and beyond to achieve their dreams and empower their communities, despite facing deep-rooted inequalities,” said Rustom Dastoor, EVP of marketing and communications, Mastercard North America, in a press release. “We are proud to support these fearless Black women artists and business owners in their pursuit of redefining what’s possible, and we’re excited to watch them take their stage, follow their passions and thrive.”

The GRAMMY House Social Pop-Up

Grammy Week
#GRAMMYsNextGen 2nd Annual Party at the GRAMMY House on February 3, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Leon Bennett/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

In effort to engage and amplify young music lovers, the Recording Academy and CBS presented the first-ever GRAMMY House: Where The Stars Align on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For three days, the GRAMMY House hosted programming, performances, DJs, and art installations. The invitation-only experience also featured a special tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop that included a treasure trove of hip-hop history along with popular lyrics and catchphrases plastered on the walls. Meanwhile, the main stage was decorated like a subway station, with graffiti naming hip-hop pioneers.

Laron Hines attends the 65th GRAMMY Awards—GRAMMY Influencer Activation (GRAMMY House) on February 2, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Anna Webber/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)