Alicia Keys Discusses How Her Last-Minute Kobe Bryant Tribute At The Grammys Came Together

Kobe Bryant’s death came just hours before the Grammy Awards on Sunday. That didn’t leave much time for those involved with the ceremony to plan a tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers legend. Still, they managed to make it work, as host Alicia Keys ended up recruiting Boyz II Men for a moving a capella rendition of “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday.” Keys was on Ellen today (January 29), and she spoke about how that moment came together.

She talked about her mindset after she heard the news, and about how it felt to have to change plans last-minute: “We were all freaking out because obviously, hearing the news about Kobe and his daughter was so tragic, and none of us can still believe it right now to this day. It was definitely a crazy feeling, because literally minutes before, we were going to do something else, and we had to really figure out, ‘How could we properly honor him in his house on this night?’”

Keys continued and spoke about how she ended up collaborating with Boyz II Men on the performance, saying, “I was backstage, I put on my meditation music, I was just thinking, and I called some of my closest people that help me really find the truth in the moment. It just so happened Boyz II Men was there already that night. We wanted to do something special, create just something that felt like it was the right thing, and we pulled it together, and it was just beautiful. It was like that magic that happens when it’s necessary. Like, whoa whoa whoa! It was so much, but I was so honored to be able to share that with all of us, the entire world, that we together could go through something that hurt so bad together. I feel really honored to have been able to be there with you in that time.”

Watch Keys talk about the Grammys on Ellen above, and find the full list of this year’s Grammy nominees and winners here.