Alicia Keys Kicks off Grammys with Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith and J.Lo

"Music has always helped me tell my story," the former First Lady said during her surprise appearance

Alicia Keys kicked off the 61st annual Grammy Awards with some help of some very special guests — including Michelle Obama!

After Camila Cabello opened the show, host Keys took the stage for a moving monologue.

“Do you feel that love in the building? This is love. This is life, this is living, this is light and all because of music. Music is so powerful. … I want everybody in here, might be feeling a little nervous, might be feeling a little you know a lot of energy, just let your shoulders drop, just know that I got you. I’m going to take care of you tonight. I got you tonight,” Keys said.

The host added: “Music is what it’s all about. Everybody is out here shining and I’m so proud to bring us together to honor this moment. Because music is what we cry to, it’s what we march to, it’s what we rock to, it’s what we make love to. It’s our shared global language, and when you really want to say something, you say it with a song. … And y’all didn’t think I was coming out here by myself did you? Please, can I bring some of my sisters out here tonight?”

Alicia Keys.

Then, Keys welcomed four powerful women onstage: Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Obama and Jennifer Lopez. The women talked about the power of music — and the importance of inclusion.

First, Gaga spoke about her journey: “They said that I’m weird, that my look, my choices, my sound, that I wouldn’t work but music told me not to listen to them. Music took my ears, took my hands, my voice and my soul, and it led me to all of you and my ‘Little Monsters,’ who I love so much.”

From left: Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Alicia Keys, former First Lady Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez.

Lopez talked about her meteoric rise, as well.

“Back in the Bronx, music gave me a reason to dance from hip-hop to freestyle, pop, soul and salsa. And it kept me moving from the block to the big stages and to even bigger screens,” Lopez said. “It reminds me where I come from, but it also reminds me of all the places that I can go. Music has always been the one place we can feel truly free.”

Pinkett-Smith went on to speak of the importance of diversity and acceptance: “We express our pain, power, and progress through music whether we’re creating it or just appreciating it. But here’s what I know: Every voice we hear needs to be honored and respected.”

Next, when it was Obama’s turn to talk, the audience gave a rowdy round of applause as she began.

Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full Grammys coverage to get the latest news on music’s biggest night.

Kevin Winter/Getty

“From the Motown Records I wore out on the South Side….,” the former First Lady said, allowing the crowd to calm down.

“Alright. We have a show to do. From the Motown records I wore out on the South Side, to the ‘Who Run the World’ songs that fueled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story. And I know that’s true for everybody here. Whether we like country, or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves; our dignity and sorrows, our hopes and joys. It allows us to hear one another, to invite each other in.”

“Music shows us that all of it matters. Every story within every voice, every note within every song. Is that right ladies?”

Michelle Obama. Kevin Winter/Getty

After Obama’s remarks, Keys began the show.

“Tonight we celebrate the greatness in each other, all of us, through music,” Keys said. “Who runs the world? Thank you so much ladies for your light, your message, your love, your sisterhood. I love y’all so much. Give it up for these magnificent goddesses.”

The 61st Annual Grammy Awards are broadcasting live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on CBS.

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