Alicia Keys to host Grammys

American singer and songwriter Alicia Keys
American singer and songwriter Alicia Keys

LOS ANGELES •American singer and songwriter Alicia Keys will host the Grammy Awards next month, she announced on Tuesday, one year after the gala came under fire over diversity concerns.

Keys - herself a 15-time Grammy winner - will be the emcee for music's biggest night, which this year features a diverse slate of women and hip-hop artists as leading contenders.

"I know what it feels like to be on that stage and I know what it feels like to be proud of the work that you've put in and to be recognised for it," she said in a video posted on social media.

"I feel like it's the perfect opportunity for me to give the light back and lift people up - especially all the young women that are nominated. To me, it feels like sister vibes."

She replaces James Corden, the British late-night show comedian who has hosted the awards the past two years.

Since releasing her blockbuster album Songs In A Minor in 2001, the classically trained pianist has sold more than 30 million records and become a successful film, television and Broadway producer.

Her appointment as Grammy host comes after the Recording Academy - which organises the event - faced backlash that the show is consistently too male and too white.

Academy head Neil Portnow said in May last year he would step aside when his contract expires later this year, after he triggered outrage for saying women artists should "step up".

"A dynamic artist with the rare combination of groundbreaking talent and passion for her craft, Alicia Keys is the perfect choice as host for our show," he said.

Rap superstar Kendrick Lamar is leading the Grammy pack with eight nominations.

Women performers also boast a heavy presence in top categories. Rapper Cardi B, pop diva Lady Gaga and folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile all nabbed key nominations for the show, which will take place on Feb 10 in Los Angeles.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2019, with the headline 'Alicia Keys to host Grammys'. Print Edition | Subscribe