Lady Gaga, P!nk, Alicia Keys, and many other top stars paid tribute to Carole King Friday night at the annual MusiCares Person of the Year concert at the Los Angeles Convention Center. "I just want to thank a true musical genius," Gaga said, before launching into an impressive piano-and-vocal version of King's most celebrated song, "You've Got a Friend." P!nk sang the yearning "So Far Away"; Keys sang the soulful and sensuous "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," made famous by Aretha Franklin.
Country queen Miranda Lambert sang the most unexpected song in the show: King's 1962 hit "It Might as Well Rain Until September." (That was King's only hit as an artist until 1971's "Tapestry" made her a singer-songwriter icon.) Lambert's performance was part of a fun segment which also included Amy Grant's version of "I'm Into Something Good" (a hit for Herman's Hermits) and Martina McBride's "One Fine Day" (a hit for the Chiffons).
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Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, and Darlene Love, former background singers who are featured in the movie "20 Feet from Stardom," sang the gospel-tinged "Way Over Yonder."
will.i.am and a discovery of his, Leah McFall, did a medley of "Love Makes the World" (the title track from a 2001 King album) and "Where is the Love?," a Black Eyed Peas hit that King had nothing to do with. With more than a hundred King hits to choose from, it seemed self-indulgent of will.i.am to feature one of his own songs.
Gloria Estefan sang a warm version of King's biggest hit as an artist, "It's Too Late." Pat Monahan of Train sang a robust "I Feel the Earth Move." Jennifer Nettles sang King's 1972 hit "Been to Canaan." Jesse & Joy, who won a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist, sang the pop gem "Where You Lead" and a bit of King's Latin-flavored hit "Corazon."
James Taylor sang "Up on the Roof," a Drifters classic that he revived in 1979, and "Hey Girl," made famous by Freddie Scott. King closed the show with a set that included some of her biggest hits as an artist, including "Sweet Seasons" and "Jazzman."
Jimmy Kimmel was a wry and appealing host. ("She wrote 'You've Got a Friend' before Facebook, when the word 'friend' still had meaning," he quipped.) The event raised more than $5.5 million to benefit MusiCares' emergency financial assistance and addiction recovery programs.
"This seems to be my year of getting awards," King said near the end of the show. A year ago, she won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy. In June, she became the first female recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. No doubt the biggest reward from this night was hearing the warm words of praise from some of today's top recording stars and watching them demonstrate how well her old songs have held up.
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