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The Queens native, who is hosting the awards, spoke with Ryan Seacrest about his feelings regarding Houston's untimely passing. "The news was devastating," LL Cool J admitted. As for the tribute, the rap star revealed that the Recording Academy put thought and effort into the special performance, though there was little time to prepare.
"We want to show her the love and appreciation that she deserves," he states. "[We] hope that Whitney Houston's family and friends, first of all, are pleased. Without getting in too much detail, there are a lot of artists here, they got nominated for awards. You don't want to lay this dark cloud over their experience, but still there was never any doubt we should address what happened."
LL Cool J had a chance to hear Jennifer Hudson rehearse for the tribute she'll be performing alongside veteran entertainer Chaka Khan. "It sends chills through your spine," he said of hearing Hudson singing Houston's lyrics. "She's a different kind of diva but the closest thing we have to Whitney."
The 54th Annual Grammy Awards air live from the Staples Center at 8PM EST.