Host LL Cool J took the opportunity to honor the late Whitney Houston as he opened the 54th Annual Grammy Awards tonight. He launched the show by speaking directly to the crowd. "There is no way around this — we've had a death in our family. So at least for me, for me, the only thing that feels right is a prayer for a woman who we loved — for our fallen sister, Whitney Houston.”
The audience of music’s top stars bowed their heads, some holding hands, as LL read off the 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 her lasting legacy of music to cherish and share forever. Amen."
Then the show aired a clip from a past Grammy Awards, where Whitney sang her iconic song “I Will Always Love You.” LL followed with, “Whitney, we will always love YOU.” It was the start of a night that felt as much like a Whitney memorial as a celebration of 2011’s best music.