ENTERTAINMENT MUSIC

Grammys 2013: Mavis Staples and real feeling in Levon Helm tribute

This year’s Grammys were all about pushing authenticity, and how often that’s just another kind of performance.

But from the audience, two moments underlined the difference between sincerity as a kind of fashion statement, and when it’s the real thing.

Just before the Denver folk-revival trio the Lumineers went on to play their chart-busting but cloying single “Ho Hey,” a production assistant felt a bit nervous about the crowd’s potential response. “OK, everyone,” he said. “I trust you because you’re in the music business, so let's practice this one first. I want you all to sing the chorus,” and prepped the audience in the refrain of “Ho Hey” while the telecast was on commercial.

GRAMMYS 2013: Full coverage | Pre-show winners | Highlights | Winners | Ballot

They only got a few bars in before killing the rehearsal and rushing back to stage prep, however, and no one got the chance to join in. Perhaps that was for the best, as the planned-on singalong never really materialized during the show – save for an enthusiastic Taylor Swift up front. It was a planned communion that never happened

However, a few songs later, when the legend roundtable of Elton John, T. Bone Burnett and Mavis Staples joined relative newbies Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes and Zac Brown in tribute to Levon Helm, Staples had a more unplanned bout of emoting. After the group absolutely burnt down a moving take on “The Weight,” Staples kept going with throaty yelps, well after the band had finished playing. She was a veteran of Civil Rights-era soul, and earned the right to do as she pleased on any Grammys stage.

Winners list | Best & WorstRed carpet | Timeline | Fashion

But as she unwound a few unmediated howls of feeling, she caught herself and laughed, closing out the tune with a hearty flourish. She didn’t need a stage PA to rile up the crowd – she did it with raw feeling. That’s real communion for you.

ALSO:

Red carpet

Video: Red carpet

Red carpet fashion

GRAMMYS 2013: Full coverage 

MORE GRAMMYS COVERAGE

TIMELINE: Grammy winners through the years

PHOTOS: 2013 winners & nominees

Grammys 2013: Complete list of nominees

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
  • Grammy Awards 2013: Red carpet

    Grammy Awards 2013: Red carpet

    Rihanna, Beyonce, Chris Brown and more music stars strut their stuff on the red carpet before the 55th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Winners | Red carpet | Show highlights | Quotes | Best & worst dressed | Timeline | Best & worst moments | Arrivals video | Complete list | Full coverage

  • Grammys 2013: Quotes from the stars

    Grammys 2013: Quotes from the stars

    Quips, jokes and zingers from Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson and more. Winners | Red carpet | Show highlights | Quotes | Best & worst dressed | Timeline | Best & worst moments | Arrivals video | Complete list | Full coverage

  • Grammys 2013: The after-parties

    Grammys 2013: The after-parties

    Everyone from Gotye to Kelly Rowland turned out to celebrate music's big night. Winners | Red carpet | Show highlights | Quotes | Best & worst dressed | Timeline | Best & worst moments | Arrivals video | Complete list | Full coverage

  • Grammys 2013: Best & worst moments

    Grammys 2013: Best & worst moments

    Carrie Underwood's dress becomes a movie screen, Taylor Swift's act becomes a circus and more highlights and lowlights from the Grammy Awards. Winners | Red carpet | Show highlights | Quotes | Best & worst dressed | Timeline | Best & worst moments | Arrivals video | Complete list | Full coverage

  • Grammys 2013: Show highlights

    Grammys 2013: Show highlights

    Frank Ocean, Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood and more perform at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles for the 55th Grammy Awards. Here are some highlights from the show. Winners | Red carpet | Show highlights | Quotes | Best & worst dressed | Timeline | Best & worst moments | Arrivals video | ...

  • Grammys 2013: Complete list of nominees and winners

    Grammys 2013: Complete list of nominees and winners

    Brit­ish roots mu­sic band Mum­ford & Sons took the top hon­or for its album "Ba­bel" at the 55th Grammy Awards ce­re­mony Sunday. The night mostly dis­trib­uted hon­ors broadly to an ar­ray of young­er gen­er­a­tion acts in­clud­ing New York in­die trio Fun., Aus­trali­an elec­tron­ic pop artist...

  • Grammys 2013 : Play-at-home Ballot

    Grammys 2013 : Play-at-home Ballot

  • Timeline: Grammy winners through the years

    Timeline: Grammy winners through the years

Loading
69°