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GRAMMYS 2018: Big Stars Tackle Big Issues With Powerful Performances

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Music's Biggest Night was back in the Big Apple for the first time in 15 years Sunday night.

The 60th annual GRAMMY Awards kicked off at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m.

Big stars and big issues took center stage, CBS2's Jessica Moore reported. Kendrick Lamar opened with a fiery performance and special collaboration with U2.

Lady Gaga paid tribute to her aunt, Joanne, singing her heart out at a piano covered with angel wings.

John Legend and Tony Bennett shared a New York moment.

PHOTOS: Red Carpet Arrivals | Top Performances

"Feels good to be here, especially in New York, New York," said Legend.

"I know that song! New York, New York," Bennett sang.

The duo presented the night's first winners – Kendrick Lamar and Rhianna were awarded Best Rap Song Performance for "Loyalty."

"I appreciate every last one of you," said Lamar.

MORE: GRAMMYS 2018: Performers Pay Tribute To Las Vegas & Manchester Victims

A touching moment came as the GRAMMYs honored the Las Vegas concert shooting victims. Their names appeared written on stained glass windows as "Tears in Heaven" played.

Kesha delivered another powerful performance alongside a stage full of women wearing white in support of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.

Host James Corden put a New York twist on his "Carpool Karaoke" with "Subway Carpool Karaoke."

Big names teamed up for big collaborations. Bruno Mars and Bronx native Cardi B took us back to the 1990s. Mars also took home the GRAMMYs for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year, among others.

MORE: GRAMMYS 2018: Time's Up Movement Takes Center Stage

U2 rocked out on a barge in the middle of the Hudson River, and Elton John sang "Tiny Dancer" with Miley Cirus as he prepares for his final tour.

Jay-Z, who had eight nominations – the most of the night – went home empty handed.

Earlier in the evening, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez caught up with the stars on the red carpet.

"It seems to be the best, you know. In New York, when you do an event like this it goes internationally and everybody in the world is interested in what's happening in New York all the time," legendary singer Tony Bennett said. 

"I think that New York is a great place for the GRAMMYS, because New York is more a music town. LA is kind of more of a Hollywood town," said rapper Ice-T.

A who's who of music talent, both familiar and new, was excited for the night filled with amazing performances and, of course, recognition of the most talented in the industry – Lady Gaga, John Legend, Bennett and new comer Khalid, who's nominated for five awards, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year.

"I'm just happy to be here on the 60th anniversary, because 60 years later when I'm on my walker, this is going to be something that I think about," he said.

Country music singer Reba McEntire was an early winner for Best Roots Gospel Album. She said she's sharing the spotlight with a message, joining several artists wearing white roses in support of the Time's Up movement.

"My interpretation of wearing the white rose is basically my message is: Let's treat each other like – I want to treat you like I want to be treated. It's the Golden Rule, and I think if we did that more often, a lot of these problems would be nonexistent," she said. "So let's just treat people kindly."

"I think it's important that we show solidarity and show that we really care about each other," said rapper Common. "Girl power! It's my white rose guys!"

Some fans waited outside, hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars.

Dylan was standing on the corner that happened to be in front of the GRAMMYs late Sunday afternoon.

"Hoping to see some people walk in; hoping to see Uzi because he's definitely my favorite," he told 1010 WINS' Rebecca Granet.

And then there are the nominees themselves. Granet spoke to Guy Davis, nominated for best traditional blues album.

"It feels great to be nominated for a GRAMMY, and as a New Yorker and to have it in New York, I'm ready," he said.

The GRAMMY Awards started at 6:30 p.m. ET with Grammy Red Carpet Live, and then the official 60th Annual Grammy Awards show at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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