"We are all pretty devastated. It hit us pretty hard," Grammy Awards executive producer Ken Ehrlich said in an interview that was fed to CBS affiliates Saturday. "A lot of us who worked on the show worked with her a number of times, so it's a very sad day for us and it's going to be tough to recover from."
Ehrlich said many received news of Houston's death during rehearsal for Sunday's ceremony. However, he said the show will go on — now with a tribute planned for Houston by singer-actress Jennifer Hudson. "She's a good friend of the Grammys," Ehrlich said. "She's had some very significant appearances on the show. It felt right to ask to her to come and help us honor Whitney, which she will do musically."
This will be the 30-year-old Hudson's third performance at the Grammys. She received a standing ovation for her moving rendition of "You Pulled Me Through" in 2009, in what was one of her first performances after the murder of her mother and brother. That same year, Houston presented Hudson with her Grammy for Best R&B Album. In 2011, Hudson joined Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch, Martina McBride and Yolanda Adams onstage to pay tribute to Aretha Franklin.
During her career, Houston won six Grammy awards, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year in 1994, for The Bodyguard soundtrack and its signature song, "I Will Always Love You," respectively. She performed at the Grammys eight times between 1986 and 2000.
Watch Houston present Hudson with her first Grammy:
The 54th Annual Grammy Awards air Sunday at 8/7c on CBS.