Grammys: Cyndi Lauper, John Legend and More Honor Producer Ken Ehrlich

Cyndi Lauper - Grammys 2020 performance - Getty - H 2020
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

The artists performed "I Sing the Body Electric" from the movie 'Fame' in honor of Ehrlich's final time producing the music awards show.

In a farewell tribute to longtime Grammys executive producer Ken Ehrlich, Camila Cabello, Gary Clark Jr., John Legend and more joined together to perform “I Sing the Body Electric” from the 1980 Academy Award-winning film Fame at the 62nd annual Grammy Awards.

Ehrlich announced his exit last July after serving as the ceremony's executive producer for the last 40 years. He first produced the show in 1980. The Late Late Show's Ben Winston will succeed Ehrlich as executive producer for the 63rd Grammy Awards.

Alongside Cabello, Legend and Clark Jr., the ensemble included two-time Grammy winner Cyndi Lauper, rapper Common, The Politician’s Ben Platt, dancer Misty Copeland, violinist Joshua Bell, pianist Lang Lang, the Nashville-based band War and Treaty, and from the original cast of Fame from which the song was taken, actor Lee Curreri and actress, director and choreographer Debbie Allen.

"To bring high-caliber artists like Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Common, Misty Copeland, Debbie Allen, Ben Platt, Gary Clark Jr., Joshua Bell and Lang Lang together on one stage fulfills a dream of mine," Ehrlich said. "To be able to do this on the Grammy stage makes it unforgettable for me."

Ehrlich, a nine-time Emmy nominee, has worked on numerous other live shows and events over the course of his 50-year career, including the Emmys, the MTV Movie Awards and the Latin Grammy Awards. Additionally, he has produced televised music specials for artists including Beyoncé, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, John Legend and Justin Timberlake and directed the Las Vegas residencies of Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. In 2007, Ehrlich was honored with the Visionary Award by the Producers Guild of America.

Last year, the producer came under fire when Ariana Grande canceled her Grammys performance, tweeting that Ehrlich had "stifled" her creativity. In a panel interview at the Grammy Museum earlier this month, Ehrlich said the controversy was overblown.

"The whole thing got out of control. From the beginning, I was a champion of hers," Ehrlich said of the singer, who performed a medley at this year's Grammys. "I'm really glad she's back. "

The performance also honored Ehrlich and the Recording Academy’s commitment to music education. Young musicians, singers and dancers — many of whom hailed from Allen’s Los Angeles-based Dance Academy — also took the stage for the performance Sunday night. 

“It was pretty plain to me that, you know, rather than to put together a montage of great Grammy moments, which everybody has seen now a lot of times…that this was a fresh way of doing something that really represented what I’ve tried to do with the Grammys,” Ehrlich told the Associated Press. “And it’s consistent with what the mission of the Academy is with regard to music education and music of the schools.”

Allen, who worked with Ehrlich on the television adaptation of Fame, also choreographed the performance. 

“I Sing the Body Electric” served as the closing song in the 1980 film. The song was written by Grammy Award-winning songwriter Dean Pitchford and composer Michael Gore, who won the Academy Award for best original score for his work on Fame. The pair borrowed the song’s refrain from a poem of the same name by Walt Whitman.

“It’s the standard of maybe one of the best pieces of film music that I’ve ever seen,” Ehrlich said.

There were a number of other tributes throughout the night, including one honoring late basketball great Kobe Bryant, who died unexpectedly Sunday in a helicopter crash. The number, pulled together in the hours leading up to the award ceremonies, featured host Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men. 

The 62nd Grammy Awards were broadcast live on CBS from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.