J Balvin, John Legend, Carrie Underwood to Perform at Grammys, Taylor Hawkins Tribute in the Works

CBS events chief talks Taylor Hawkins tribute, bracing for Kanye and Trevor 'unbelievably creative' Trevor Noah

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John Legend, Carrie Underwood, J Balvin with Maria Becerra and just-announced Silk Sonic are among the performers added to Sunday’s Grammy Awards, where producers will also highlight three musical genres — gospel/Christian, tropical Latin and bluegrass — that are not traditionally part of the show. The ceremony will also feature a tribute to Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters drummer who died March 25 at the age of 50.

The list of artists set to appear on the live CBS telecast from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas also include Maverick City Music, Aymée Nuviola and Billy Strings, who are lined up for “special segments that showcase Las Vegas and spotlight genres not historically represented on the Grammy Awards telecast,” per the Grammys.

Maverick City Music is nominated in gospel and Christian music categories. Nuviola is up for tropical Latin album while Strings is a contender for American roots and bluegrass album honors. Balvin is up for música urbana album.

CBS and the Recording Academy aren’t giving out many details about plans for this year’s show, which was forced to relocate to Las Vegas from its traditional home at the (now) Crypto.com Arena because of COVID concerns earlier this year.

Jack Sussman, CBS’ executive vice president of specials, music and live events, emphasized that the goal of spotlighting the array of musical genres that are a more obscure part of the Grammy competition every year became a big focus this year.

The telecast will likely open with “a great sequence of musical moments that will open right at (8 p.m.) and keep you there glued to the TV,” Sussman told Variety. The goal is to present “the best night of music you could ever imagine in one place under one roof and one one network. We’re celebrating an incredible year in music coming out of the pandemic.”

Producers are in the midst of sorting out how the telecast will pay tribute to Hawkins. Foo Fighters had already committed to perform on this year’s Grammy telecast, although the group has canceled all concerts for the foreseeable future.

“We will honor his memory in some way,” Sussman said. “We want to figure out what is the right thing to do that is respectful to everyone involved. We’re patient. We’ll be planning right up until the very end.”

As for another big question mark hanging over the Grammy fete is the Kanye West factor. The hip hop giant has been barred from appearing at the Grammys by the Recording Academy because of his “concerning online behavior.”

Sussman punted the disciplinary question to the academy and would only say: “It’s live television. Anything can happen and usually does. We’ll be ready.”

Sussman added that returning Grammy host Trevor Noah, “Daily Show” anchor, will be an invaluable asset in steering the three-and-a-half-hour telecast. Noah is back for his second consecutive year as host. He’s an ideal emcee on a night thrumming with unexpected music, artists and styles.

“He’s passionate about music and he has great affection for artists,” Sussman said of Noah. “That makes the audience at home and the audience in the building feel like they’re coming to a party at his house. There’s nobody I’d rather have in a live TV foxhole than Trevor Noah.”

(Pictured: Silk Sonic)