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Drawing The 2019 Grammys

The female energy was infectious — and so much fun to depict

Liza Donnelly
Feb 12, 2019 · 5 min read
Illustrations: Liza Donnelley

As a cartoonist, I draw and post my drawings to social media in real time — which is stressful, but exciting. Especially when I illustrate award shows. I have live-drawn the Oscars, Grammys, Tonys, BET Awards, Emmys — and they’re always a lot of fun. Much of the country, and sometimes the world, is watching the show. For me, it’s a chance to connect with people through my drawings.

The Grammys are particularly enjoyable for two reasons: The costumes on most everyone in attendance are completely wild, and the vibrance of the performances is energizing — and challenging — to depict.

This year’s Grammys show was full of women — a welcome change from years past. Its organizers made a noticeable attempt to showcase women, which was successful. The host this year was Alicia Keys, and she set a happy, inclusive, loving tone for the entire ceremony in a way that seemed unscripted and natural. It’s refreshing that she does not wear makeup and really seems to be herself in everything she does. Keys is not artificial.

The evening was clearly about female empowerment, a theme that was carried off without feeling artificial or like it was based on a marketer’s idea of what the term means. The women owned the subject in their words and performances.

And many owned it in their outfits.

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I started drawing a little of the red carpet scene at 7 p.m.

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But the show really began when Keys burst on the stage with open arms and a huge smile, broadcasting such enthusiasm and warmth. Her joy for music and life is infectious.

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The opening performance by Cabello was energetic, fun, and full of scenic elements.

Perhaps the most talked about part of the evening — aside from Keys’ dual hosting and musical skills — was when four powerful women descended the center-stage stairs to join Keys: Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michelle Obama, and Jennifer Lopez. They spoke of the strength and rights of women and the importance of music in our lives.

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Dolly Parton was honored and sang beautifully. H.E.R. was amazing — and a new addition to the Grammy-winner family.

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When Drake won an award, he came onstage and proceeded to boast that his music was so popular that he didn’t need the award. He was cut off.

Keys — again, a talent like no other — amazingly played two pianos at once.

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More performances:

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Diana Ross was celebrated on her 75th birthday and clearly enjoyed herself as she moved around the stage in an enormous red dress. Her sweet grandson introduced her:

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Lady Gaga — wearing gray all evening — won awards for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Group Performance (together with Bradley Cooper, for “Shallow”). She performed with emotion.

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Jennifer Lopez performed many Motown hits in tribute to the groundbreaking Detroit company and danced up a storm, finishing with a duet alongside the legendary Smokey Robinson.

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Cardi B, Dua Lipa, and Kacey Musgraves left with big awards. Dua Lipa was named Best New Artist, and Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy won Best Rap Album:

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And the final two performances were fantastic — the first, a tribute to Aretha Franklin:

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The second: a tribute to Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, sung by Chloe and Halle.

These drawings were all originally done for CBS This Morning.

Written by

Visual journalist/writer for New Yorker, New York Times, CBS News, CNN. TED, SXSW speaker. Looking to change world w humor. lizadonnelly.com

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