Beaming in from their respective corners of the internet, an all-star ensemble performed Gaye’s “Mercy, Mercy Me,” to celebrate the 50th-anniversary of the late Motown icon’s masterpiece, What’s Going On. The performance featured contributions from Ledisi, Kamasi Washington, PJ Morton, Gregory Porter, and more, all floating across the screen in little metallic triangles that eventually lock into one another.
The latest in a year-long commemoration of What’s Going On, the performance followed a 50th-anniversary reissue of the 1971 classic. The reissue included the first standalone release of a rare instrumental album from Gaye. Dubbed Funky Nation: The Detroit Intrumentals, the 14-track album was created the year after the release of What’s Going On with a number of young and prestigious players, including the late Hamilton Bohannon on drums and Michael Henderson on bass, as well Wah Wah Watson, Leroy Emmanuel, and a 17-years young Ray Parker Jr.on guitars.
Today’s performance also commenced a number of pre-ceremony events for the 2021 Grammys along with the announcement of winners for the show’s many untelevised categories. Nas took home the award for “Best Rap Album” (his first,) Kaytranada won big (twice) for “Best Dance/Electronic Album” and “Best Dance Recording,” and Thundercat walked away with his first golden gramaphone for “Best Progressive R&B Album.” And there’s still literally the entirety of tonight’s show to get through.
While you wait, watch the Grammys salute Marvin Gaye with an all-star performance from nominees below. Tune into CBS tonight at 8pm for the broadcast of this year’s ceremony and head over to The Recording Academy’s site for the full list of nominees.
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