Usher celebrates Prince at Grammys, with help from a dancing (but not singing) FKA twigs

Usher and FKA Twigs perform at the 2020 Grammys.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Less than four years after his tragic death, Prince earned a tribute at the Grammy Awards from a fellow legend when Usher returned to center stage for the first time since he joined a young Justin Bieber at the 2011 ceremony. Backed by longtime Prince percussionist Sheila E. and, on the pole, British avant-pop star FKA twigs, Usher led viewers through a medley of the fallen genius’ work.

During her introduction, Alicia Keys advanced the medley with a teaser for an upcoming CBS prime-time special on Prince at the Grammys. Plug achieved, the eight-time Grammy winner Usher walked on stage wearing a short Prince-esque purple jacket. Usher opened with his take on “Little Red Corvette” before moving into his minimalist funk jams “When Doves Cry” and “Kiss.” In his life as an artist, Prince earned a whopping 38 Grammy nominations, and won seven. Memorably, in 2007 Prince joined then-rising star Beyoncé for a medley of his and her hits, including “Crazy in Love” and “Purple Rain.”

Though FKA twigs lost to Lil Nas X‘s “Old Town Road” in the video category earlier in the day, she earned more eyeballs during this nighttime performance. She was nominated in the music video category for “Cellophane, “ but rather than join Usher and Sheila E. to sing during the medley, FKA twigs’ sole role was not as an innovative artist but as pole-dancer to Prince’s jams. The seeming slight was quickly noted on social media, where fans expressed outrage at what seemed like a lesser assignment.