Backstage at the Grammys last night (February 12, 2012), most people's thoughts were on the recent untimely death of former Grammy winner Whitney Houston, who had passed away the day before the ceremony, aged 48. Many of the stars that were present at the Grammys paid tribute to the record-breaking female vocalist. LL Cool J began the awards show with a joint prayer, whilst Jennifer Hudson was invited to perform a sombre version of 'I Will Always Love You' (the Dolly Parton hit made famous by Whitney in the 1990s). Hudson was said to have been close to tears before her performance, according to a report from Reuters
Backstage, after the event, a number of attendees and performers spoke to reporters about the effect that Houston's death has had on them. Bonnie Raitt was scheduled to perform a duet with Alicia Keys, in remembrance of Etta James, who also died recently. Upon hearing of Whitney's death, the couple decided to make their performance a joint tribute and Raitt told reporters "Whitney, we're all - I'm sure you're still - in shock, too. I didn't forget but when you see it all [her videos and songs] in a row like that, it's stunning her vocal range and power." The winner of Best Classical Vocal Solo, Joyce DiDonato showed her appreciation of Whitney's impressive vocal talent, saying "Good singing is good singing. I am a child of the '80's; she was the soundtrack of my adolescence."
Prior to the event, on the red carpet, Questlove summed up the feeling that a lot of attendees had expressed when asked what they were looking forward to the most from the evening. In most cases, it was the Whitney Houston tribute, to which he said that it was "unfortunate that that's the highlight" and added that he was "thrown off" by Houston's unexpected death.