How Whitney Houston's death changed the Grammys
June 12th, 2012
03:09 PM ET

How Whitney Houston's death changed the Grammys

As host of the 2012 Grammy Awards, LL Cool J was at home preparing for the next night's ceremony when he got the February 11 call that Whitney Houston had died.

After hearing that, the rapper-turned-actor told CNN Monday, there was really only one thing he could do to move forward with the celebration of the best in music as the industry reeled from such a loss: to open the ceremony with a prayer.

His decision and the other impromptu revisions are chronicled in a documentary from the Recording Academy that details how Houston's sudden death dramatically changed music's biggest night. Called "A Death in the Family: The Show Must Go On," the 26-minute doc was screened in Los Angeles Monday.

Although the opening prayer was his idea, LL Cool J told us yesterday, he still wasn't sure how to pull it off.

“I bounced it off my wife and she said, ‘Yeah, I think it's great,'" he recalled. "It was just one of those things where I wasn't sure how [Grammys' executive producer] Ken [Ehrlich] was going to respond to it because I knew it was a little unorthodox, but it was the only way I could, for me, be able to do the show or handle it and feel good as a host moving forward."

The show moving forward was what Houston would have wanted, Neil Portnow, President and CEO of The Recording Academy, said on Monday, and that sentiment served as the title for the documentary.

“Whitney would have said, ‘Boys, the show has got to go on. 'It's about music, some of it is my music and that will be there forever.' And that is the voice we listened to,” Portnow said.

Nearly 40 million viewers watched February's Grammys, making it the second largest audience in the ceremony's history.


soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Princess P.

    Still cannot believe Whitney Houston is dead. Loved her and appreciated everything she did. Miss you Whitney.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. Princess P.

    So, the Grammy awards who snubbed Whitney Houston by not even nominating any of her songs the previous year (which really hurt her) suddenly, are scrambling to their show to fit her in. I would love to hear what Whitney would have thought of that. She was deeply hurt by the snub the previous year. Her album did well. It's just another attempt by someone to use Whitney's name for publicity and attention.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. NinaBEna

    She was an icon people...her MUSIC CAREER (not personal demons) should speak for her...there are alot of celebrity drug addicts that permeates our society (dead or alive). Uhhhh...let me clear my throat...Steven Tyler (getting paid millions)...Lindsay Lohan...Robert Downey Jr...Charlie Sheen....and the list goes on. Hell, could be one of you that has such harsh opinions about the late GREAT Whitney Houston that is an addict or recovering addict. We all know one. She isn't being put on a pedestal...she was Music Royalty (sold millions cross culturally). She paved the way for the new breed of artists (i.e. Rihanna, Adele, Beyonce and many more)...so she deserves to be honored...Period.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • FoMoCo1

      Couldn't been said better or with better terminology and facts NinaBEna. Thanks girl!

      June 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Princess P.

      Speak on it girl, speak the truth. Well spoken. I agree 1,000%!!! Music Royalty!

      June 13, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rebbeca

    Another dead drug addict put up on a pedastal. Donna Summer died of cancer and it was news for a day what is wrong with our society?

    June 13, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Princess P.

      I disagree. I believe Donna Summer received good coverage on her death. Whitney Houston was an international music icon. Through her music she touched and influenced millions of lives. The coverage and loss of Whitney Houston is monumental. It doesn't diminish the loss of Donna Summer. Donna Summer was not in the spotlight lately..and she lived a very private life. The mourning for her is no less.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. smiles

    she will be missed. She was a great preformer anf icon

    June 13, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. Central Scrutinizer

    Had enough Whitney. Let her rest.

    June 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rockdaddy

    What, we now have to let the world know when we do basically what is expected of us in difficult situations?

    You are the producers of an awards show. Get over yourselves. I mean, REALLY?

    Let's think about it: Paul McCartney has an idea to change up a performance at the last minute. Okay, hats off to Paul for the good idea. But to the Grammy people. . . you did only what you were expected to do. And then the decision to have Jennifer sing a stirring version of "I Will Always Love You" following Whitney's death - again, you did what was expected.

    There is no great achievement here - nothing exceptional. Nothing extra-ordinary.

    It's like having to give trophies – even to those who suck in Little League, just cuz they PARTICIPATED.

    Actually, what is the greatest achievement is that The Grammy people paid for and produced a self-congratulatory "doc" and got people to attest to their briliiance on camera. That's the achievement. Is the Grammy membership even aware of the $100k that must have been spent on this.

    And then to convene a panel to re-hash it all before Emmy Awards season? Ewwwwwwww.

    In Hollywood, narcicism never ceases to find any limits.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JoeCool

    Ya, so they all feel bad for the dead drug addict – after she's dead. Where were all those "friends" while she was addicted?

    June 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jay delion

    Yes, prayer is what made it ok for LL to host the grammy's in conscious. Further proof that god is human-made as a catch-all for when we need approval. If LL had not prayed, Whitney would still be dead and time would still pass on.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |

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