Watch: John Legend performs at the Billboard Music Awards
It was already an emotional and bittersweet night at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, when the telecast, which was originally supposed to take place April 29 in Las Vegas but was delayed due to coronavirus concerns, was held Wednesday at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre without a live audience. But certainly the most impactful moment came when ceremony host Kelly Clarkson introduced her The Voice co-star John Legend.
Legend’s Bigger Love ballad “Never Break” took on new poignancy Wednesday, as he performed it at the rescheduled, downsized BBMAs on a bare stage just two weeks after his wife Chrissy Teigen’s pregnancy loss.
“I want to take a moment to talk about a friend who inspires me on the daily not only as a musician and a songwriter, but as a human,” Clarkson began. “John Legend is one of my favourite people on this planet, and it's easy for us all to feel that way about them, because he and Chrissy just have this warm way of inviting us into their world — the highs and the lows. My heart, obviously all of our hearts, go out to you both in this very difficult time, and I'm thankful that you continue to share your light and your talent with all of us for the very special performance, possibly my favourite of the night.”
Sitting solemnly at his piano, Legend stated softly, “This is for Chrissy,” before crooning sweet lines like “Whenever life is hard/We'll never lose our way… I just know I'll always follow the light in your heart/I'm not worried about us/And I've never been/We know how the story ends… We will never break/Built on a foundation strong enough to stay… You are the explanation of what love really means/It's bigger than you and me/It's one plus one equals three/When we talk about forever/Then forever's what we mean.”
Legend became noticeably choked up during the song, his voice growing raspier in the final chorus, but he powered through, concluding the tear-jerking performance with a simple “thank you.”
Afterwards, Clarkson said, “John, that was so beautiful. You are literally one of my favourite singers and entertainers that has ever existed. That was so beautiful. All my love to you and Chrissy.”
Teigen and Legend shared the tragic news of the loss of their son, Jack, on 30 September, just one month after announcing their pregnancy. “We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we’ve never felt before,” Teigen wrote in a raw and heartbreaking Instagram post. “On this darkest of days, we will grieve, we will cry our eyes out. But we will hug and love each other harder and get through it.”
Teigen has understandably kept a low profile on social media since then, but fans of the couple took to Twitter on Wednesday evening to praise Legend’s beautiful BBMAs tribute to his wife.
John Legend dedicating his performance to Crissy and their baby is both heart warming and heart breaking.💔 I can’t imagine what they must be feeling in this season with their recent miscarriage, but their strength and vulnerability is inspiring. #JMS215LiveStory— Megan Buyck (@BuyckMegan) October 15, 2020
@johnlegend Very touching performance tonight, John! It was lovely. Thank you— a (@pistonsfan215) October 15, 2020
I'll say it: I think John Legend delivered the best awards show performance of 2020 #BBMAs— Brian Cantor (@cantorpedia) October 15, 2020
@johnlegend’s beautiful song “Never Break” dedicated to Chrissy had me in tears. May their light and love always move mountains! God bless your beautiful family and grant you all comfort and strength. #blessed #NeverBreak https://t.co/bGyBXNHajC— Cindy Anne (@MimiCindyAnne) October 15, 2020
Other standout performers of the 2020 Billboard Music Awards included Clarkson with Pentatonix and Sheila E., Sia, Post Malone, BTS, Demi Lovato, Alicia Keys, Doja Cat, Brandy with Ty Dolla $ign, Kane Brown with Swae Lee and Khalid, En Vogue, and Garth Brooks, who received the 2020 Icon Award presented by Cher. For a full list of this year’s BBMAs winners, click here.
Watch: John Legend woos new artists to his team on The Voice