After being introduced by one of her grandchildren, the music legend sang “The Best Years of My Life,” from her 2001 Motown Anthology album.
Dressed in a flowing red gown, Ross was surrounded on stage by members of her family, including daughter Tracee Ellis Ross. In the audience, Motown founder Berry Gordy, Miley Cyrus and many other music stars nodded in approval during the performance.
Before launching into her hit 1970 single “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” Ross told everyone she was celebrating her 75th birthday.
The Grammys said on its Twitter feed, the “very special Grammys performance” was organized to honor Ross’s “landmark career and contributions to music.”
The music icon then asked the audience to sing along with her. A short time later, she paused to offer a message of hope.
“[There’s] so much love in this room. Together we have no limits,” she said. “There’s only success ahead, and you can lead the way. Learn, dream, unlock new doors, all is possible, all is possible with music and with you.”
Later in the evening, Jennifer Lopez led a tribute celebrating Motown’s 60th anniversary.
While the singer and dancer gave it her all, the performance sparked backlash on social media, with many soul music fans saying they didn’t think the Puerto Rican singer from New York was the “right choice” to lead a tribute to the soul music label Berry Gordy founded in Detroit in 1959.