Jennifer Lopez defends her Grammys Motown tribute

Jennifer Lopez performs a Motown tribute during the 61st Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Jennifer Lopez played the mom card in her defense of the Motown tribute she performed at the 61st Grammy Awards.

The two-time Grammy nominee sparked a backlash when she was announced as the headliner for the salute to the iconic label, and viewers continued to air their grievances when Lopez took the stage at Staples Center on Sunday.

But the high-octane entertainer seemed unfazed by the lukewarm reception, explaining that her performance was also a tribute to her mother, who played Motown tunes for Lopez while she was growing up.

“It was for my mom. I could cry. It’s such a good moment,” Lopez told “Entertainment Tonight” backstage after the show. “It’s just a dream come true.”


Lopez added that Grammy producers and Motown co-founder Berry Gordy were thrilled she was involved because they knew how much she was influenced by Motown music. Gordy could be seen bopping along in the audience as Lopez ran through wardrobe changes and hits including “Dancing in the Street,” “Please Mr. Postman,” “Do You Love Me” and “War.”

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“It was a natural fit for them,” Lopez said. “But for some people, [it wasn’t], and that’s OK. I’m just very humbled and honored to be able to have sung those songs.”

Motown legend Smokey Robinson introduced the star and took the stage with her for the “My Girl” portion of the medley (they were also accompanied by host Alicia Keys and Ne-Yo). And he didn’t appear to have qualms with the producers’ selection either.


“Motown was music for everybody,” Robinson told critics prior to the event.

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That sentiment was one Lopez echoed alongside Keys and the show’s surprise opening guest, Michelle Obama. The women, joined by Lady Gaga and Jada Pinkett Smith, spoke of music’s unifying qualities. (Lopez specifically spoke of how it catapulted her from the world of dance to the big screen.)

“The thing about music is that it inspires all. Any type of music can inspire any type of artist,” Lopez told “ET.” “You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, what they should sing or not sing. You gotta do what’s in your heart.”


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