Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, Eminem early winners at American Music Awards

Mariah Carey continued her career comeback, receiving the favorite female artist in the soul/R&B category at the 33rd annual American Music Awards _ one of four honors for which she was nominated.

Carey bested Ciara and Fantasia to collect the first award Tuesday night. However, she lost out later for best female pop artist to Gwen Stefani. Stefani's win came as a shock to the singer, who had just left the stage after performing with rapper Pharrell.

Taking the award for country female artist was Gretchen Wilson. Pop trio Destiny's Child took home the favorite band award in the soul/R&B category. In a cross-genre category, country group Sugarland bested alternative rockers The Killers and pop singer Jesse McCartney for the breakthrough new artist award.

And in awards presented off-camera, rapper Eminem won the favorite male artist in the rap/hip-hop division where he had been up against 50 Cent and Ludacris. Carey opened the telecast wearing a sequined, silver, spaghetti-strap gown slit to the waist as she performed a rousing rendition of "Don't Forget About Us." Before collecting her award, she performed a quick change into a black evening gown.

Green Day, 50 Cent and Clarkson had three nominations each. Other multiple nominees included Wilson, the Black Eyed Peas, Destiny's Child, Eminem, Fantasia, Toby Keith and Tim McGraw. Host Cedric The Entertainer took to the stage wearing a grey pinstripe suit and holding a boombox that he dubbed the first iPod. He noted that new versions of Apple Computer Inc.'s digital music player seemed to be coming out all the time and getting smaller and smaller.

The scene on the red carpet before the show reflected the hodgepodge of musical genres being honored at the AMAs, with hip-hop, pop and country stars making their way through the gantlet of press. Carey's album has sold about 6 million copies to date, re-igniting the 35-year-old's career and helping earn her a string of honors at September's Vibe Awards and World Music Awards.

Green Day was vying for favorite pop/rock band, duo or group against the funky Black Eyed Peas and rockers 3 Doors Down. The "American Idiot" rockers were also up for a favorite artist honor in the Alternative category along with Britain's Coldplay and metal band System of a Down.

Other awards were to be presented to artists in the Latin, contemporary inspirational and adult contemporary categories during the three-hour ceremony, broadcast live on ABC from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the AP reports. Nominees were chosen on the basis of record sales, with winners selected through a survey of about 20,000 listeners.


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