Grammy Awards weekend kicked off with Essence magazine’s seventh annual Black Women in Music event. Held at the Avalon in Hollywood, the event celebrated the Black women who have made extraordinary strides in music. From the onset, it was obvious that it was the beginning of a big weekend in L.A. as dozens of celebrities filled the ballroom.
Queen Latifah, Tyrese, Zendaya, Kelis, Goapele, Vee Bozeman, and MC Lyte were all in attendance for the event, which was highlighted by two soulful Grammy-nominated artists who were able to make a powerful impact in 2015. Andra Day hit the stage first to share music from her debut album, Cheers to the Fall. The critically acclaimed album is nominated for best R&B album and her single, “Rise Up,” is nominated for Best R&B Performance.
Day opened with the emotional song “Gold.” The song sheds light on Day’s past infidelity while in a relationship and fallout from her decision. She then sang the inspirational “Rise Up.” It served as a theme-song for Serena Williams during the U.S. Open and also has encouraged women to stay strong through tribulations. Day also showed her love for hip-hop by doing a soulful rendition of the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa.”
Jazmine Sullivan followed Day and continued to bring powerful soul to the stage. She opened with the revenge-inspired “Bust Your Windows.” The 2008 hit solidified Sullivan’s place among R&B artists of this generation and also earned her a Gold plaque in the process. Sullivan closed her set with “Forever Don’t Last.”
The song reveals the hurt of knowing that some good relationships will end even when time and effort is used to save it. “Forever Don’t Last” is one of the top standout moments from her latest album, Reality Show. The album is also nominated for best R&B album and Sullivan picked up two more nominations for best song and best traditional R&B performance.
Once her performance concluded, Sullivan told the crowd, “I am Black, and I’m a woman and I’m in music. Thanks for honoring me.”
Day will perform at this year’s Grammy Awards on Feb. 15.
Photos credit: A.R. Shaw for Steed Media Service