Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Jada Pinkett Smith, and former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama brought the crowd to their feet at the Grammy Awards on Sunday with an inspiring opening message.

The ladies gathered onstage to express what music means to them and set the loving tone for the evening.

“They said I was weird, that my look, my choices, my sound, that it wouldn’t work, but music told me not to listen to them,” Gaga said. “Music took my ears, took my hands, my voice and my soul and it led to my little monsters (fans) who I love so much.”

“Growing up in the Bronx, music gave me a reason to dance, from rap, to freestyle, pop, soul, and salsa and it kept me moving from the block to the big stages and even bigger screens,” Lopez added. “It reminds me where I come from, but also all the places I can go. Music has always been the one place we can all feel truly free.”

Obama also shared how music helped her through the good and bad times of her husband Barack Obama’s presidency, which ended in 2017.

“From the Motown Records I wore out on the Southside (of Chicago), to the who run the world song that fueled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story and I know that’s true for everybody here,” she said. “Whether it be country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes and joys. It allows us to hear one another, to invite each other in. Music shows us that all of it matters, every story within every voice, every note within every song.”

“Tonight we celebrate the greatness within all of us through music,” Keys concluded.

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