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8 Unforgettable Moments From the Grammys

Willie Nelson, Viola Davis and surprise winner Bonnie Raitt won big at the 2023 music awards

(Left to right) Bonnie Raitt and Viola Davis
(Left to right) Bonnie Raitt and Viola Davis
Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images; Leon Bennett/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Beyoncé made music history Feb. 5 at the 2023 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles by becoming the most Grammy–winning artist ever, but it was Bonnie Raitt, 73, who pulled off the biggest upset by winning the song of the year. Harry Styles won the album of the year award, the top category, and most of the major categories were won, as expected, by Beyoncé, Adele and Lizzo.

Here are some of the highlights of the show:

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Bonnie Raitt accepts the award for song of the year for "Just Like That" at the 65th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Los Angeles. First Lady Jill Biden looks on from right.
(Left to right) Bonnie Raitt and First Lady Jill Biden
Chris Pizzello/AP Photo

Bonnie Raitt shocks the house

​First lady Jill Biden presented the visibly shaken Raitt with the trophy for “Just Like That,” a song inspired by a news story about a mother who met the man who received her late son’s transplanted heart and listened to it beating in his chest. Raitt beat out Beyoncé, Adele and others in the most unexpected win of the evening.

Raitt had previously won 10 Grammys, but never an award for songwriting. In her speech, said she was trying to tell “a story from the inside” as her friend John Prine, who died of COVID-19 in April 2020, often did with his work. She said the story of how much good organ transplants do just seemed like it deserved a song. “I don’t write a lot of songs,” she said. “But I’m so proud you appreciate this.”

Viola Davis accepts the award for best audio book, narration, and storytelling recording for "Finding Me: A Memoir" at the 65th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Los Angeles.
Viola Davis accepts the award for best audio book, narration and storytelling recording for "Finding Me: A Memoir."
Chris Pizzello/AP Photo

Viola Davis makes history

One of the most momentous wins of the night happened during the pretelevised awards, when Viola Davis won the Grammy for best audiobook, narration and storytelling recording for the audiobook of her memoir Finding Me. As a result, the 57-year-old actress became only the 18th person ever to score an EGOT — the elusive winning of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

“I wrote this book to honor the 6-year-old Viola,” she said at the afternoon ceremony. “To honor her life, her joy, her trauma, everything. And it has just been such a journey. I just EGOT!” She also presented the best R&B song to Beyoncé, and Davis received a standing ovation walking to the stage. “I’m grateful,” she said then. “What a night!”

John Williams doesn’t win — for once

The pretelevised awards also offered a number of firsts, both young and old. The New York Youth Symphony became the first youth orchestra to win best orchestra performance, a stunning achievement for the youngsters considering they were up against talent like 90-year-old John Williams (who with 25 Grammy wins, and five Oscars, already likely has a full mantel). “This is a great moment not just for our orchestra, but for young people everywhere,” conductor Michael Repper said at the ceremony.

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Shania Twain accepts the Best Country Album award for “A Beautiful Time” on behalf of Willie Nelson during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by JC Olivera/WireImage)
Shania Twain accepts the best country abum award on behalf of Willie Nelson during the 65th Grammy Awards.
JC Olivera/WireImage

Willie Nelson earns his dozenth Grammy

Willie Nelson, 89, collected gold again, winning two Grammys, making his lifetime haul 12 Grammy awards. Nelson didn’t attend the ceremony, but he won both best country solo performance for “Live Forever,” and best country album for A Beautiful Time. Nelson’s win for solo performance was even more surprising in that he beat breakout star Zach Bryan, one of the best-selling artists of 2022. Perhaps Nelson was resting up for his 90th birthday party in Los Angeles in April, which will feature even more star power than the Grammys did this year.

Ozzy duels Machine Gun Kelly and wins

Ozzy Osbourne, 74, picked up two Grammys, for both best rock album and best metal performance, for his album Patient Number 9, and his song “Degradation Rules.” The Black Sabbath singer already had three Grammy awards, but on Sunday he beat out preshow favorite 32-year-old Machine Gun Kelly. In 2020, the singer announced that he had Parkinson’s disease, and that he had kept his diagnosis secret for the previous 15 years. Though he recently canceled his 2023 tour for health reasons, Ozzy’s latest Grammys confirm his continuing creative vitality.

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Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder perform "Tears of a Clown" during a tribute to Motown at the 65th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Los Angeles
(Left to right) Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder
Chris Pizzello/AP Photo

Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder recreate Motown magic

Every Grammy week comes with the appointment of a MusiCares Person of the Year, supporting the Recording Academy’s charitable arm. Motown’s Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson were the honorees this year, and both also were at the televised Grammy Awards. Spry at 93, Gordy was captured by the television cameras dancing during the Bad Bunny opening number. Robinson, 82, still sounded like a teenager when he joined Steve Wonder and others to sing “The Tears of a Clown.” Wonder brought his usual positivity during the ceremony, saying, “I’m happy to be here, happy for the winners and I’m just so happy.”

(Left to right) Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and Mick Fleetwood paid tribute to Christine McVie during their performance of "Songbird" at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards.
(Left to right) Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and Mick Fleetwood paid tribute to Christine McVie during their performance of "Songbird."
Francis Specker/CBS via Getty Images

Honoring the fallen icons

One of the most moving moments in every Grammy show is their acknowledgment of the artists who passed away this past year. This one seemed more poignant than usual with the recent deaths of Jeff Beck and David Crosby, both of whom were shown in video. Beck’s brilliant guitar sounded particularly mournful, and Crosby’s sweet voice shone. On the stage, Kacey Musgraves did a take on the late Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter” that played as most of the deceased were shown, then Quavo sang a tribute to Takeoff, and finally Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and Mick Fleetwood had one of the night’s most emotional moments, singing Christine McVie’s “Songbird” in memorial to the beloved Fleetwood Mac singer.

Dr. Dre accepts the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 5, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Dre accepts the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award at the 65th Grammy Awards.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Hip-hop don’t stop — after 50 years

Grammy shows are often full of musical ensemble performances, but nothing before has quite topped a 50th anniversary of hip-hop medley, which featured nearly three dozen rappers, and countless more dancers, including many of the early voices who created the genre half a century ago. Ice-T himself is 64, but his take on “New Jack Hustler (Nino’s Theme)” sounded fresh still. Before the salute, the Grammys announced the “Dr Dre Global Impact Award,” and gave the first such honor to Dr. Dre, 57.