Hudson, 27, made no direct reference to the October killings of her mother, brother and nephew that kept her in seclusion until just this month. But while fighting back tears, she made it clear that her family was foremost on her mind.
“I first would like to thank God who has brought me through. I would like to thank my family in heaven and those who are with me today.
Hudson later performed “You Pulled Me Through,” a dramatic song about overcoming deep despair, with the lyrics: “When I was drowning, when I was so confused, you, you pulled me through.” As she sang the last note, she looked directly into the camera and dissolved into tears once again.
The Grammy telecast was filled with eye-popping and eyebrow-raising performances, from Radiohead’s collaboration with a college marching band to a televised black-and-white throwback performance from Jay-Z, T.I., Lil Wayne, Kanye West and a (very) pregnant M.I.A. on “Swagga Like Us.”
Watch Jay-Z, T.I., Lil Wayne, and Kanye West Perform Swagga Like Us
But not even these could patch up the gaping hole in the telecast caused by the absences of Brown and Rihanna. She was supposed to sing “Live Your Life/Disturbia” as the second performance of the night, he was later to sing “Forever.”
And each was nominated in the pop collaboration with vocals category, Brown for “No Air” with “American Idol” champion Jordin Sparks; and Rihanna for “If I Never See Your Face Again” with Maroon 5. Brown was also nominated for male R&B vocal performance for “Take You Down.”
Neither won a Grammy on Sunday, and the Recording Academy found able replacements for their performance slots in Justin Timberlake, Al Green, Boyz II Men and Keith Urban as they all sang Green’s classic hit, “Let’s Stay Together.” No mention was made on the broadcast about the switch.
Around the same time, Lil Wayne won the first Grammys of his career for “Tha Carter III,” which took the 26-year-old rap veteran to from rap to pop MVP. It wasn’t entirely his fault for not sweeping all eight of his nominations: he was competing against himself in two categories in which he won.
Watch Lil Wayne’s Grammy Acceptance Speech
Besides rap album, he won best rap solo performance for “A Milli,” rap song for “Lollipop” and rap/sung collaboration for “Swagga Like Us.”
Coldplay won three, included song of the year for “Viva La Vida.”
Watch Coldplay Perform Lost with Jay Z
“We’ve never had so many Grammys in our life,” said lead singer Chris Martin, perhaps so excited he got confused (they had already won four over the years). “We feel so grateful to be here. I’m going to tear up.”