Jennifer Hudson, LL Cool J Honor Whitney Houston at Grammy Awards

updated 02/12/2012 AT 11:05 PM EST

originally published 02/12/2012 AT 08:25 PM EST

It was a fitting way to honor the memory of Whitney Houston.

On a darkened stage – where Houston had performed on many times before – in front of an audience of artists who call her an unforgettable influence, on music's biggest night, the late R&B superstar was remembered with one of her most memorable hits, sung by Jennifer Hudson.

Hudson's poised, powerful and understated reading of the song brought audience members gathered at Los Angeles's Staples Center for Sunday's 54th Annual Grammy Awards to their feet Sunday night.

The performance came at the end of the show's in-memoriam segment.

A Prayer for Whitney

At the beginning of Sunday's telecast, host LL Cool J paid tribute to Houston,who died Saturday at 48.

"There's no way around this," he said, addressing the silent crowd. "We've had a death in our family, and so at least for me – for me – the only thing that feels right is to begin with a prayer for a woman we loved, for our fallen sister, Whitney Houston."

The host then led the audience through a prayer for Houston (watch it below), before playing a video of her singing her hit "I Will Always Love You."

"Whitney, we will always love you," he continued. "And we'll remember you the best way we know how – with a song."

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