Global Citizens were well represented at the 2019 Grammy Awards on Sunday, winning categories throughout the evening and delivering some of the event’s sharpest performances.
Kacey Musgraves won Best Album of the Year, Cardi B took home Best Rap Song and Pharrell Williams was recognized as Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. Other winners include The Carters, Kendrick Lamar, the Soweto Gospel Choir, Dave Chappelle, and Ariana Grande.
This year’s awards highlighted music’s ability to bring people together and showcased some of the best female artists in the business. From Janelle Monáe’s performance of “Make Me Feel” to Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” to an extended Dolly Parton tribute, this year’s Grammy Awards were dominated by female performers and presenters alike — a shift from last year, when the ceremony was criticized for its lack of representation. Recording Academy President Neil Portnow later acknowledged this shift in his on-stage speech Sunday, in which he said the organization was committed to inclusivity.
The theme of gender equality was established early on when the host Alicia Keys brought out Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michelle Obama, and Jennifer Lopez to reflect on the power of music. And it was carried on throughout various speeches that highlighted music’s unique ability to challenge social injustices, spur people to inspiring acts of courage, and reunite people despite their political persuasions.
Here are six of the most inspiring speeches from the evening.
Aubrey Graham, also known as Drake, took home a Grammy for Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan,” a song whose iconic lyric “I only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry,” could be heard booming from car windows everywhere over the past year.
Drake used the opportunity to tell his peers that the passion of fans is the most important metric of success.
“This is a business where sometimes it is up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed race kid from Canada has to say,” he said. “Or a brother from Houston right there, my brother Travis. You’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word, if you are a hero in your hometown. If there is people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here — I promise you, you already won.”
2. Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa picked up two Grammy Awards, including Best Dance Recording (for “Electricity”) and Best New Artist.
Earlier in the evening, she performed a hybrid version of “One Kiss” and “Masseduction” alongside St. Vincent.
After catching her breath and thanking her team, the UK-based singer encouraged viewers to not let prejudice get in the way of their success.
The singer also wryly referenced a previous comment made by Portnoy about how women had to step up if they wanted to get nominated.
“[It’s an honor] to be nominated alongside so many incredible female artists this year,” Lipa said. “I guess this year we really stepped up.
“For everyone who felt because they had a different background or story … no matter what you do or where you’re from, what your background is, or what you believe in, [that can’t] get in the way of you and your dreams,” she added.
3. Michelle Obama
Before she could even speak, Michelle Obama was met with a standing ovation, the room overwhelmed by the appearance of one of the most admired people in American political history. When the crowd settled down, the former first lady spoke about the unifying power of music.
“From the Motown records I wore out on the South Side to the ‘Who Run the World’ songs that fueled me through the last decade, music has always helped me tell my story, and I know that’s true for everybody here,” said Obama.“Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves: Our dignity and sorrows, our hopes and joys."
“It allows us to hear one another, to invite each other in,” she continued. “Music shows us that all of it matters. Every story within every voice, every note within every song. Isn’t that right, ladies?”
A big part of friendship is showing up for your girls—that’s why I was thrilled to be there for the one and only @aliciakeys at the #GRAMMYs. She is one of the most genuine and thoughtful people I know—there’s no one better to help us all celebrate the unifying power of music! pic.twitter.com/8cMhTmsClA— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) February 11, 2019
Read More: Why Michelle Obama Wishes Girls Could Fail
4. Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves was the big winner of the evening, with awards for Best Country Song, Best Country Album, Best Country Performance, and Best Album of the Year.
The celebrated singer has brought her modern take on country around the world, and performed at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg in December. In her speech Sunday, she expressed how overwhelmed she was that so many people enjoyed her music and talked the ability of art to transcend discord.
“It was unbelievable to even be in a category with such gigantic albums, really brilliant works of art,” she said. “Life is pretty tumultuous right now for all of us, and because of that, art is really thriving, and it’s been really beautiful to see that. Thank you for championing mine.”
5. Ludwig Göransson
Accepting the award for Song of the Year for “This Is America” in place of Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino), Ludwig Göransson, a sound engineer on the song, lived up to the track’s political message in a speech that championed diversity.
“Creating music with Childish Gambino has been one of the greatest joys in my life,” he said. “As a kid growing up in Sweden, loving American music, I always dreamt of migrating here and working with brilliant artists like Donald Glover.
“No matter where you’re born or what country you’re born [in], you connect with 'This Is America' — it speaks to people, it connects right to your soul,” he added. “It calls out injustice, celebrates life, and reunites us all at the same time.”
Göransson used the opportunity to shine a light on the detention of the rapper 21 Savage by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the first and only mention of the artist during the evening.
"21 Savage, you should be here tonight,” he said.
6. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga won three awards over the course of the evening for Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Song for Visual Media, and Best Pop Duo or Group Performance. The pop star performed mutlple songs throughout the event, including "Shallow," a song written for A Star is Born, which has been nominated for several Oscars.
When accepting "Best Pop Duo or Group Performance" for "Shallow," Lady Gaga spoke about the importance of being open about mental health issues.
"I just want to say that I’m so proud to be part of a movie that addresses mental health issues. They’re so important, and a lot of artists deal with that, and we gotta take care of each other," she said. "So if you see someone who’s hurting, don’t look away, and if you’re hurting, even though it might be hard, try to find that bravery within yourself to dive deep and go tell somebody and take them up in your head with you."