Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

Girl on Fire: Alicia Keys to host the 2019 Grammy Awards

'I know what it feels like to be on that stage,' says the singer-songwriter, who will take over the presenting gig from talk-show host James Corden

Alicia Keys attends Billboard's 13th Annual Women In Music event on December 6, 2018. AFP
Alicia Keys attends Billboard's 13th Annual Women In Music event on December 6, 2018. AFP

American singer and songwriter Alicia Keys will host the Grammy Awards next month, she announced on Tuesday, one year after the gala came under fire over diversity concerns.

Keys - herself a 15-time Grammy winner - will be the emcee for music's biggest night, which this year features a diverse slate of women and hip-hop artists as leading contenders.

"I know what it feels like to be on that stage, and I know what it feels like to be proud of the work that you've put in and to be recognised for it," Keys said in a video posted on social media.

"I feel like it's the perfect opportunity for me to give the light back and lift people up - especially all the young women that are nominated," she added.

"To me, it feels like sister vibes."

Keys replaces James Corden, the British late-night comedian who has hosted the awards the past two years.

Since releasing her blockbuster album Songs in A Minor in 2001, classically trained pianist Keys has sold more than 30 million records and become a successful film, television and Broadway producer.

A new era

Her appointment as Grammy host comes after the Recording Academy - which organises the event - faced backlash that the show is consistently too male and too white.

Academy head Neil Portnow said in May he would step aside when his contract expires later this year, after he triggered outrage by saying female artists should "step up".

"A dynamic artist with the rare combination of groundbreaking talent and passion for her craft, Alicia Keys is the perfect choice as host for our show," Portnow said in a statement.

Rap superstar Kendrick Lamar is leading the Grammy pack with eight nominations, propelled mostly by his work on the Black Panther soundtrack.

Female performers also boast a heavy presence in top categories after being largely snubbed a year ago.

Rapper Cardi B, pop diva Lady Gaga and folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile all nabbed key nominations for the show, which will take place on February 10 in Los Angeles.

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Updated: January 16, 2019 09:22 AM

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