"I’m just very humbled and honored to be able to have sung those songs," Lopez said
Critics may have questioned why Jennifer Lopez was tasked to lead the Motown tribute at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, but the 49-year-old singer wasn’t hearing it.
After Lopez lit up the stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles with a high-energy performance, she defended her connection to Motown in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
“The thing about music is that it inspires all,” Lopez said. “Any type of music can inspire any type of artist. You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, what they should sing or not sing. You gotta do what’s in your heart.”
She went on to say that Motown producer Berry Gordy, as well as producers of the awards show, were “thrilled” about her involvement. “They know how much I have been influenced by that music and so it was a natural fit for them.”
As for those critics? “That’s okay,” Lopez said to Entertainment Tonight. “I’m just very humbled and honored to be able to have sung those songs.”
Many Twitter users were quick to criticize Lopez’s participation in the Motown tribute on Sunday, calling for black performers to honor the genre that was launched by Gordy with artists like Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Gladys Knight & the Pips and The Temptations.
“J. Lo better not salsa her way to the cookout because she is uninvited for that terrible performance,” preacher Jared Sawyer Jr. tweeted on Sunday. “How do you do a Motown tribute without an ALL BLACK cast of artists?! And it’s Black History Month too.”
Sawyer suggested that Knight, Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, Jennifer Hudson, Tina Tuner or “practically anyone else” take Lopez’s place.
Other tweeters echoed that sentiment.
Lopez’s tribute had the Bronx-born singer performing hits like “Dancing in the Street,” “Do You Love Me,” “Money (That’s What I Want),” “Please Mr. Postman” and more — while wearing numerous sparkling numbers. Motown legend Smokey Robinson and Motown recording artist Ne-Yo joined Lopez during the set.
At its conclusion, Lopez gave a heartfelt shout out to her 73-year-old mom, Lupe, whom she said raised her on the soulful music.
“We used to dance around to this music,” the Second Act star told E! on the Grammys pre-show red carpet, explaining that she was dedicating the performance to her mother. “I grew up with this music and me and my sisters, the three of us, we were, like, the backups. We were The Temptations and we just sing with her and I feel it’s a dream come true.”
That love for her mom stayed with Lopez after the performance.
“I could cry. It’s such a good moment,” Lopez told Entertainment Tonight. “It was for my mom. … It’s just a dream come true. Singing up there with Smokey Robinson, like, I gotta pinch myself. I grew up on all those songs and because my mom loved him so much she passed him on to us.”
Meanwhile, Lopez wasn’t the only one standing by her performance.
Robinson also defended Lopez’s involvement, telling Variety at Saturday’s Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy gala that Motown music was “for everybody.”
“I don’t think anyone who is intelligent is upset,” he said. “I think anyone who is upset is stupid.”
“Who’s stupid enough to protest Jennifer Lopez doing anything for Motown?” Robinson asked.