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Jennifer Hudson performs "I Will Always Love You" during the In Memoriam portion of the 54th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Pierce: Houston hovered over the Grammy Awards (video)

By Scott D. Pierce

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Feb 12 2012 10:42 pm • Last Updated Feb 14 2012 11:34 pm

The Grammys opened on Sunday with a prayer for and tribute to Whitney Houston.

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It was tasteful. It was heartfelt. It was all that was necessary.

"There is no way around this," host LL Cool J told the crowd in the Staples Center and TV viewers after an opening number by Bruce Springsteen. "We’ve had a death in our family. So at least for me, the only thing that feels right is to begin with a prayer for a woman that we loved."

At which point he bowed his head and prayed for Houston, who died Saturday of (as of this writing) undetermined causes.

"Although she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed by her musical spirit," LL Cool J said. And then producers played a clip of Houston singing "I Will Always Love You" from a past Grammy show.

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That wasn’t the end of it. Houston was featured in the, ahem, death montage later in the show. And Jennifer Hudson followed that with her own rendition of "I Will Always Love You."

But the Whitney worship didn’t get out of hand.

LL Cool J may have gotten the gig because the Grammys were on CBS and he’s a CBS star ("NCIS: Los Angeles"). He was, believe it or not, the first Grammy host since 2005.

And he pretty much disappeared after the brief opening. But he did what he had to do.

The Grammys have a built-in advantage over the Oscars, the Emmys and even the Tonys. They’re far more entertaining because, while you can’t show viewers an entire movie, TV program or Broadway show, you can show them song after song.

And, as always, the awards took a back seat to the performances at the Grammys.

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