The Grammys were more than an award show this year. Live performances by Kanye West, Ed Sheeran, and Madonna (amongst others) propelled the three-hour ceremony, while the talent level of this year’s artists in question seemed higher than usual. Amidst the glory of the star-studded evening was a message from President Obama, who expressed his belief in artists to inspire people to talk about high-profile issues after condemning domestic abuse. The President’s segment was followed by a heartfelt performance by Katy Perry, who sang “By the Grace of God.” Perry’s performance mimicked the President’s stance on domestic violence: “It’s not okay.”
Between the President’s message and Perry’s moving performance, activist and speaker Brooke Axtell took the stage to tell the audience her experience with domestic abuse. In a passionate speech, Axtell encouraged those affected by domestic violence to seek council and advice, citing a conversation with her mother as one that saved her life. Expecting roughly 28 million viewers, following the 2014’s audience, we can hope that her message was received.
Addressing domestic abuse was only a fraction of the ceremony. Sam Smith, an obvious and understandable favorite, took home four awards including Song of the Year for “Stay With Me”. Beck, who took home Album of the Year for Morning Phase, were almost interrupted by the always opinionated Kanye West, who interrupted Taylor Swift years ago amidst her acceptance speech. West approached the stage, but turned around after rec-consideration. Other notable winners include Pharrell Williams, who won Best Pop Solo Performance for “Happy,” and Miranda Lambert who won Best Country Album for Platinum. Beyonce took home best R&B Performance for “Drunk in Love.”
While Obama, Perry, and Axtell’s message may have taken some of the fun out of the ceremony, it was necessary. The past few months have been especially critical of domestic violence. The issue, while rooted in history, has become especially prevalent since incident arose in the NFL this year. The league made an example of veteran running back Ray Rice following a video that surfaced of the ex-Raven’s star abusing his fiancé. Between the incident and Sunday’s Grammy Awards, ad-campaigns featuring athletes and celebrities have riddled the air, heavily denouncing the issue in public light.
The Grammys are designed to entertain, while awarding some of the most talented musicians with the industry’s most notable accolades. The spectacle and glamour of the ceremony has the powerful ability to draw viewers in. Aware of its power, the Grammys responsibly utilized its platform to raise awareness of a crippling social issue that affects millions people each year. The Grammys awareness and willingness to participate in the campaign to end domestic violence was refreshing, and hopefully, affective.