Alicia Keys announces she will host the Grammy awards

Keys attending Billboard's 13th Annual Women In Music event in December 2018.
Keys attending Billboard's 13th Annual Women In Music event in December 2018.PHOTOS: AFP

LOS ANGELES (NYTIMES) - Singer Alicia Keys will host the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb 10, she announced on Tuesday (Jan 15) in a nearly 10-minute celebratory video that emphasised the show as female-driven a year after the Grammys faced controversy over gender diversity.

Keys succeeds late-night host James Corden, who presided over the Grammys for the last two years and took over from LL Cool J, who hosted for five years beginning in 2012.

Previous hosts include Queen Latifah, Rosie O'Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres and Garry Shandling.

The Grammys host is traditionally on-screen for about 15 minutes of a nearly four-hour show.

From 2006 to 2011, there was no host.

A 15-time Grammy winner who has frequently performed on the show, Keys has also acted in films like The Secret Life Of Bees and the show Empire.

Though not known as a comedian, she represents a straightforward choice at a time when the Academy Awards has battled weeks of bad press over the selection and subsequent withdrawal of Kevin Hart because of his past homophobic comments.

Keys, the first woman to host the Grammys in more than a decade, also joins a class of nominees in the major categories that leans more heavily toward female artists than in recent years.

At the 2018 show, after only one woman won a prominent award in the televised portion, Neil Portnow, the head of the Recording Academy, ignited a backlash when he said that women in the industry should "step up" to advance their careers.

Portnow will step down from the Academy, the organisation behind the Grammys, in July, making the February show, which is scheduled to air on CBS, his last.

In Keys' announcement video, which is positioned as a series of candid clips seemingly shot on a cellphone, an unidentified voice tells her about the job offer, noting, "It's going to be such an exciting show this year because of all the female artists and performers."

Drake and Kendrick Lamar lead the field of nominees, but are followed by acts like Brandi Carlile, Janelle Monáe, Cardi B, H.E.R. and Kacey Musgraves, all of whom will compete for album of the year.

The Recording Academy has yet to announce any performers for the show.

In the behind-the-scenes footage, Keys goes on to share news of her hosting duties with her mother, her husband (producer Swizz Beatz), and her children, one of whom responds, "What's the Grammys?"