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Beyonce has had more than her share of big Grammy moments. There was her 2014 performance of “Drunk in Love” with husband Jay Z (with whom she’s currently expecting twins); singing “Proud Mary” with Tina Turner in 2008 and opening the 2004 awards show doing a five-minute medley with Prince (who died April 21 and will be honored at this year’s Feb. 12 show).
THR called the performance an “arresting combination.” Ken Ehrlich, who has produced 37 Grammy ceremonies, including 2004’s and this year’s, says the pairing arose when he made his “annual call” to Prince asking him to perform. He fully expected the Purple One’s annual response: “Are you going to pay me $3 million?” But that year was different.
Prince, then 45, already had mapped out the medley he wanted to do with Beyonce, 22 at the time. There was one glitch: It was nearly unheard of for one artist to perform twice on the telecast, and Beyonce already was set to sing “Dangerously in Love 2” from her debut solo album. “There’s always a time to break a precedent,” says Ehrlich. “And if there ever was one, this was it.”
It would be a major night for Beyonce: She won five awards, including best female R&B vocal performance. As for the medley, Ehrlich says, “It’s been 13 years, and people are still talking about it. So it must have registered somewhere.”
This story first appeared in the Feb. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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