At the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night, host LL Cool J began the show by doing something highly unexpected and perhaps even unprecedented.
With the recording industry actively mourning the Saturday death of legendary singer Whitney Houston, 48, US Magazine reports that LL Cool J began the show by saying, "There's no way around it: We've had a death in our family. And so at least for me — for me — the only thing that feels right is to begin with a prayer for a woman who we loved, for our fallen sister, Whitney Houston."
The host then pulled some notes out of his jacket pocket, bowed his head, paused momentarily and offered this prayer: "Heavenly Father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us. Today our thoughts are with her mother, her daughter and all of her loved ones. And although she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit, and to have the legacy of her music to cherish and share forever. Amen."
During the prayer, cameras panned across the throng of famous musical artists seated directly in front of the stage. Most of them were shown with bowed heads and closed eyes, but a few of the celebrities could be seen looking around in wonderment.
After the show ended, the Hollywood Reporter gleaned some insight into the prayer from Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, the organization that stages the Grammys every year.
"(LL Cool J) said, 'Well, what I would do if it was in my house would be, I'd say a prayer.' And we thought, if that’s what you would do and that's the words that would come out of your mouth, no need to write that, just do it from your heart. And so he was prepared to do that. You saw he took his notes out, and we thought it was the right thing to do."
The biggest winners on Sunday were the 23-year-old British singer Adele (with six Grammys) and American rock band Foo Fighters (five Grammys).