Grammys 2019: Alicia Keys' Mispronunciation of 'Mogul' Captures Social Media's Attention

Host Alicia Keys got tongue-tied on the Grammy Awards stage Sunday night, mistakenly calling legendary music mogul Clarence Avant "mongol," but quickly corrected herself. However, it was clear enough that people on Twitter noticed.

Avant, 87, is referred to as the "Godfather of Black Music" and received the Salute to Industry Icon Award during Clive Davis' Pre-Grammy Gala Saturday night. Keys mentioned Avant's honor before introducing Cardi B's performance.

While reading from the teleprompter, located far from the stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Keys made a clear, forgiving mistake reading the tribute.

"Alicia Keys called a musical artist a mongol (sic) instead of a mogul. She corrected herself...but the damage was done," one viewer wrote.

"Mongol? She just said it. Meant Mogul? Alicia can’t see teleprompter for the hat & is feeling no pain and high on #Grammys," another wrote.

Some fans thought Keys' big brimmed hat was to blame for her mistake.

"Alicia clearly needs to ditch the hat. Tryna cover them eyes & see the prompter. Girl called that man a mongol," one wrote.

"Mongol.... sweet baby can’t see and this hat is NOT helping," another added.

Another viewer thought she might have said "mango" instead.

"Mongol," as it has been widely known, is a derogatory term for someone with Down's Syndrome.

Keys, who was recently a coach on NBC's The Voice, is hosting the Grammys for the first time. She has 15 Grammy Awards herself, out of 29 nominations. Her most recent win came at the 56th annual Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album for Girl on Fire. She was also nominated at the 57th annual Grammy Awards for Album of the Year for Girl.

Aside from the flub, Keys' performance at the Grammys has gone off without any problems. She performed herself, singing a medley of other artists' nominated songs before singing the chorus from her Jay-Z collaboration, the Grammy-winning hit "Empire State of Mind."

The show started with a special appearance from former First Lady Michelle Obama.


"From the Motown records I wore out on the Southside to the 'Who Run the World' songs that fueled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story," Obama said. "Music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes, our joys. Music shows us that all of it matters."

Photo credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy