She later added: “I know how much Kobe loved music, so we got to make this a celebration in his honor.”
Following the show, Keys admitted hosting the Grammy Awards was “hard” and “painful.”
She told “Entertainment Tonight”: “This was a really hard night, and that’s why I think it was a roller coaster. It was painful, it’s painful right now. We lost a beloved hero to all of us. A person who is like a true example of brilliance and excellence.
“It’s not easy to go forward with all of that weight. But I think that the energy that he always brought and that fighting spirit… is what brought us through tonight.”
The “Girl on Fire” singer opened the show with a surprise performance with Boyz II Men’s Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men of their 1991 hit “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” to pay tribute to the basketball player and she was glad to do so.
She said: “I feel like he was just in all of our hearts and spirits and that’s what made it feel good.”
Key’s husband, Swizz Beatz, praised his wife for the way she handled the emotional evening.
He said: “This was a heavy night and she put the load on her shoulders and made people feel comfortable all around the world. It’s a blessing.”