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J.Lo defends Motown tribute at the 2019 Grammys: 'It was for my mom'

Jennifer Lopez grew up on Motown's music, thanks to her mom, Guadalupe.
/ Source: TODAY

Jennifer Lopez gave a knockout performance during the Motown 60th anniversary tribute at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday — and it was all to give back to her mother, Guadalupe, a lifelong Motown fan.

"It was for my mom," the tearful singer told Entertainment Tonight backstage after her performance. "I could cry. It’s such a good moment."

Image: 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards - Inside
Jennifer Lopez performs during the Motown tribute at the the 61st Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday.Kevin Winter / Getty Images

"I grew up on all those songs, and because my mom loved them so much, she passed them on to us," she continued.

Though some critics wondered why the 49-year-old Latina entertainer was chosen to honor the historically black Detroit record label that launched the careers of the Supremes, the Jackson 5 and others, Lopez wasn't bothered.

Great music, she suggested, belongs to everyone.

"The thing about music is that it inspires all," she said. "Any type of music can inspire any type of artist. You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, what they should sing or not sing. You gotta do what’s in your heart."

Image: 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards - Inside
During a medley of Motown hits, Lopez teamed up with Motown legend Smokey Robinson to sing "My Girl," a song Robinson co-wrote.Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

Lopez added that Motown founder Berry Gordy, who was in the Grammys audience on Sunday, was "thrilled" she'd be honoring his label because he knew how much she'd been "influenced" by the music.

During the lengthy tribute, the Bronx-born superstar sang and danced her way through a medley of Motown classics including the Jackson 5's "Dancing Machine," Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street," and the Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman."

She was joined by Grammys host Alicia Keys, singer Ne-Yo and Motown legend Smokey Robinson, who sang a duet with Lopez on "My Girl," which he co-wrote.

"Singing up there with Smokey Robinson, like, I gotta pinch myself," Lopez gushed to ET.

Prior to the Grammys performance, Robinson stood up for Lopez, telling Variety that anyone angry about her Motown tribute was being "stupid."

"I don't think anyone who is intelligent is upset," the 78-year-old singer said. "I think anyone who is upset is stupid."