Grammys Defends Natalie Cole In Memoriam Tribute

The show's longtime producer Ken Ehrlich thinks the video salute was the most 'touching and emotional' tribute he could have presented to his friend.

Grammys' longtime producer Ken Ehrlich has broken his silence over Natalie Cole "improper" In Memoriam tribute at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Natalie's sisters Timolin and Casey previously blasted the Grammys after the show only aired a short video tribute to honor their sister instead of a musical tribute.

Ken, however, disagrees with Timolin and Casey, telling Billboard, "Frankly, I think it was appropriate." The producer thinks the video salute was the most "touching and emotional" tribute he could have presented to his friend. Ken says he was taken aback by Natalie's sisters comments, believing the show had their blessings.

"For the record, there was an email exchange, and I told Timolin what we were doing, and she seemed to be very happy with it," Ken explains, "And what I told her is that we had talked about having an artist do something for Natalie; at one point I was playing around with 'Miss You Like Crazy', because I love that song."

"But when I looked again at the Grammy show we did where she won for 'Unforgettable', and I saw the last 45 seconds of that number, where her father (Nat King Cole, on the big screen) throws her a kiss, she throws him a kiss, and then she turns to the audience and throws everybody a kiss - that just was so touching and so emotional to me that that felt like it had to be the end of the whole 'In Memoriam' segment," he continues, "I hadn't looked at that clip in several years, but when I saw it again, I knew it was right."

David Wild, who's co-written the Grammy telecast since 2001, weighs in on Ken's statement, saying, "Natalie Cole was one where I talked to Ken 10 seconds after we both found out that she passed, and he loved her. Before she passed, we always would have her on the show to present, and she was one of his favorites."

"In fact, he went to her service. Although there were discussions about who to get to cover her - the Grammys won't speak to whether anyone was approached - 'that clip really impacted him, and he thought, he's not gonna do better at Natalie than Natalie," he adds, "When he found that clip and showed it to me, he was sort of in tears, because it meant so much to him."