As the first major pandemic awards show, the 2020 Emmys were fascinating and numbing, joyous and sad, unprecedented in most ways and, to our lockdown-dulled senses, all too familiar in others.
While Jimmy Kimmel made many jokes about the situation in his audience-less (and thankless) role as host, if there was one person who made the viewing audience feel like she was performing in an arena filled with people, it was Grammy-winning R&B singer H.E.R., who delivered a powerful version of Prince’s classic “Nothing Compares 2 U” during the show’s “In Memoriam” segment. Images of the many personalities from the television world who have died in the past 12 months were showed while she sang.
H.E.R. sang a rousing version of the song about love and loss, standing up from her piano to deliver the final verse (and inadvertently distracting from the image of filmmaker and director Lynn Shelton, who died in August).
It wasn’t the first time this year that H.E.R. covered Prince: The late artist was honored by a wide variety of performers at the Grammy Awards’ annual tribute concert, which is taped a day or two after the main show. H.E.R. was a featured performer along with John Legend, Mavis Staples, Beck, Earth, Wind & Fire, St. Vincent and longtime Prince collaborators Sheila E., the Time and the Revolution — and she covered two of his songs, performing the opening number, “Let’s Go Crazy,” with fellow guitar slinger Gary Clarke Jr., and later in the show she delivered a powerful version of “The Beautiful Ones,” which is also from Prince’s galvanizing 1984 “Purple Rain” album and film.