Last night, the 2015 Grammys were held in Los Angeles, and to say the award show was entertaining is probably an understatement.
Today, the internet is buzzing about Kanye’s rant against Beck, Madonna and Rihanna’s creative outfits and Zach Braff’s questionable tweet about Pharrell, but Annie Lennox and Hozier’s performance seems to be a standout moment that has really got people talking.
The Grammy-nominated duo brought the house down with their powerful renditions of Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” and Lennox’s reimagining of “I Put a Spell on You” from their 2014 albums. The audience was hypnotized by Lennox’s stunning vocals and Hozier’s guitar riffs.
Something that people aren’t talking about? The fact that Lennox is a woman and Hozier is a man. Seems strange to point out, but in 1984, Lennox’s gender was a hot topic.
“There was a little bit of controversy about my gender at the time,” Lennox said on the Grammys’ live red carpet last night when asked about her performance at the 1984 show. “In the ’80s, there was a little bit of questioning going around, whether I was a male or a female because I had kind of an androgynous quality to me. I thought it would be really funny to come to, sort of, an event like that as a man. So I dressed as a man, with Dave and the Eurythmics. We were waiting to perform on stage and Ken [Ehrlich, longtime Grammy producer] was looking for me but he couldn’t see me. I was standing right behind him and obviously he didn’t know it was me.”
Lennox may have dressed in men’s clothing as kind of a goof for her performance of “Sweet Dreams,” but her voice overwhelmed the tie, sports jacket, pompadour and sideburns she was donning. Check it out.
As Lennox pointed out later in the interview, there’s no ambiguity about her gender anymore. What hasn’t changed is the fact that her musicianship still takes center stage, proven by last night’s performance.
The quality of Lennox’s work may be due, in part, to her amazing outlook on existing as an artist in the music industry. “I have to say, though, when you make music, you’re not thinking about the glittering prizes at the end,” Lennox said when congratulated on the nomination for her album, Nostalgia. “You’re really involved in the process. And if you do your work well enough and enough people like it, then it might happen that people want to nominate you or award you, or whatever. But at the end of the day, just the main prize, is to make the music. I’m very genuine about that.”
Lennox’s body of work (including her 1984 and 2015 Grammy appearances) and her philosophy about making music teach us an important lesson: When you’re focused on expressing your art, it doesn’t matter what your gender is.