The biggest surprise of last night’s Grammy Awards didn’t have anything to do with the winners – it had to do with one very special first lady and a cohort of “magnificent goddesses.” After welcoming the audience in her signature laid-back manner, host Alicia Keys introduced a fierce group of ladies. “Y’all didn’t think I was coming out here by myself, did you?” she said. “Please, can I bring some of my sisters out here tonight?”

The back of the stage opened to reveal two of music’s biggest superstars, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, along with actress Jada Pinkett Smith and none other than former first lady Michelle Obama. The crowd roared as the women took center stage and spoke of their connection to music.

“They said I was weird, that my look, my choices, my sound, that it wouldn’t work,” Gaga began. “But music told me not to listen to them.”

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Lopez spoke of her rise to fame, and said that “back in the bronx, music gave me a reason to dance… And it kept me moving from the block to the big stages… It reminds me where I come from but it also reminds me of the places I can go. Music has always been the one place we can all feel truly free.”

Pinkett Smith paid tribute to every artist nominated that evening, saying “here’s what I know: every voice we hear deserves to be honored and respected” – a line likely referencing last year’s ceremony that was dubbed as an ultimate snub to artists like Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino.

And then finally, Obama took the mic. Or at least, she tried to. The 55-year-old couldn’t get her first word out before she was interrupted by thunderous applause. “Alright you all,” she finally said, “we’ve got a show to do!” She then hopped on the emotional bandwagon and gave a heartfelt speech, citing music as the thing that “shows us that all of it matters. Every story within every voice, every note within every song.”

Keys was visibly emotional by the end of the opening, and the crowd definitely loved the tone. And although the women spoke in cliched monologues that were clearly an attempt to re-vamp the Grammy’s reputation after last year’s #GrammySoMale fiasco, they made their point, and they made it loud. This was the year of the woman, as Keys so eloquently put it when she cried out “who runs the world” at the end of the segment.

Watch the full opening here: