Elton John and Other Stars to Take Part in Grammys Awards Tribute to Levon Helm
The 55th Grammy Awards ceremony is set to take place Sunday at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. As has become a tradition, this year's show will feature several special onstage collaborations between a variety of artists.
Speaking to ABC News Radio on Wednesday, Grammy executive producer Ken Ehrlichrevealed that one of these musical moments will be a tribute to late Bandsinger/drummer Levon Helm. The performance will feature Elton John, gospel/soul legend Mavis Staples, country star Zac Brown, U.K. folk-rock act Mumford & Sonsand singer Brittany Howard of the emerging blues-rock act Alabama Shakes. In addition, acclaimed producer T Bone Burnett will serve as musical director for the homage.
"[They] are all going to be a part of singing 'The Weight' in memory of Levon," says Erlich. Helm passed away last April at age 71 after a battle with cancer.
As previously reported, Elton also will be doing a duet with British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran at the show, while other planned collaborations include Sting teaming up withBruno Mars and Rihanna, and Alicia Keys joining forces with Maroon 5.
Erlich explains that the joint performances are something that viewers, the participating artists and the Grammy organizers all really enjoy.
"People have now come to expect that from our show, and artists now are very open and receptive about doing it," he notes. "They really look at it as an opportunity. It's not something that they can necessarily do on other shows…We love the idea of creating these moments where you see things that you just don't see anywhere else."
While acknowledging that staging a telecast of more than three hours, with 19 musical performances, awards being handed out and huge egos everywhere, is "incredibly difficult to do logistically," Ehrlich tells ABC News Radio, "The human part of it -- the talent booking, the creative part of it, the music that's created by our artists -- you know, that's the joy of it. "
So overall, what can viewers expect from this Sunday's telecast? Says Ehrlich, "What you can expect is three-and-a-half hours of things that you probably won't see anywhere else."
CBS will air the Grammy Awards starting at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.
Photo courtesy of people.com