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AAPI Artists Score At Grammy Awards

Bruno Mars Prince Tribute
Bruno Mars brought down the house with his tribute to the late Prince at the Grammy Awards.

By Ed Diokno
Views from the Edge

No doubt, one of these years Joey Alexander, the 13-year old jazz prodigy from Indonesia will win a Grammy; just not this year.


For the second year in a row, he was nominated for Best Improvised Jazz Album of the Year and the young pianist once again last night lost out to an older musician. Of course, all the Grammy nominees were older than Joey.


Comedian Margaret Cho also lost out in her bid to win Comedy Album of the Year but she kept herself busy by being on the one of the hosts of the Grammys pre-show, which hands out awards in 75 categories before the main show aired on CBS later Sunday.


She told winners they should keep their acceptance speeches to 45 seconds and to kiss their loved ones in the audience later because time was so tight. She instructed winners on how to hold their Grammys after their names are called.


She also told nominees to stay in their seats if they don’t win and referenced rapper Kanye West, who famously interrupted Taylor Swift’s speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Cho says, “Kanye’s not here, so that will be fine.”


During the awards show that was aired live on the East and West Coasts, Bruno Mars was given two spots to perform. He did one of the songs from his new album 24K Magic, which will be eligible for a Grammy next year, and brought down the house with his tribute to Prince with an Prince-like guitar solo.


There were several Asian Americans that won Grammy Awards in the less publicized categories.

Yo Yo Ma won a Grammy for Sing Me Home with his Silk Road Ensemble. Among the ensemble members were several Asian Americans including Indian American tabla player Sandeep Das.

Producer Jhett Tolentino won in the category of Best Musical Theater Album with his Color Purple team which features Cynthia Erivo and Jennifer Hudson.

Throughout the show there were a few spots where performers made references to the current political environment and the need for the musicians and singers to use their art to counter the growing tide of hate, fear and xenophobia that is dividing the country.


The surviving members of A Tribe Called Quest — Q-TipAli Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White — linked up with Best New Artist nominee Anderson Paak for a three-song medley that included the classic track Award Tour from Tribe’s 1993 LP Midnight Marauders as well as new tracks Movin Backwards.


They were joined by Busta Rhymes — who thanked “President Agent Orange” — and Consequence then joined the crew for “We the People,” the single from the Tribe’s We Got It From Here that got the crowd out of their seats..


While performing We the People, as Tip hit the chorus (“All you black folks, you must go” and refer to “Chinese and Filipinos”), people of several different ethnicities began walking down the aisles, making the group’s position on Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban even more explicitly clear than it had been already. If that wasn’t enough to clarify their position, they added the ending shouting, “Resist! … Resist! … Resist!”

(Editor Note: The original headline has been changed to reflect the awards won by Ma and Tolentino.)

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