It was a night of repair and recovery for the Dixie Chicks and Mary J. Blige. Both acts, one country and one r&b, won key awards at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night in Los Angeles and in the process completed very public journeys from the brink.
The Dixie Chicks won five, including album of the year for Taking the Long Way. Record of the year, song of the year and best country performance by a duo or group with vocal went to the Chicks' single Not Ready to Make Nice, a ballad that bites back at the band's harshest critics. Taking the Long Way also won best country album.
The Texas trio all but disappeared from country radio in 2003 after singer Natalie Maines' criticized President Bush before the Iraq war. But fans made Taking the Long Way one of 2006's top sellers, and Grammy voters appeared to embrace the fighting spirit of the defiant single, which the Chicks performed on the telecast in a symbolic comeback from a stretch that had seen them abandoned by some of their fans.
The Dixie Chicks bested Blige, this year's leading nominee, with eight, in the record and song of the year categories. But Blige, an intensely emotional soul singer known for lyrics about personal struggle and despair, won three Grammys: best r&b song and best female r&b vocal performance, both for the single Be Without You; and best r&b album for The Breakthrough, a hit CD whose title reflects of Blige's immersion in the culture of therapy.
Blige said The Breakthrough's win showed, among other things, "that I am growing into a better human being." She introduced her performance of Be Without You by saying, "This song means a lot to me because there was a time in my life I couldn't love myself enough to love anyone else."
Grammy voters, for their part, warmed up to a potentially show-stealing rival, American Idol: They named country rookie Carrie Underwood best new artist -- the highest-profile Grammy to go to any past winner of Idol, the singing contest that trounced the Grammys last year in head-to-head competition for television viewers. The Grammys also debuted the winner of "My Grammy Moment," an Idol-like contest in which viewers chose which one of three amateur finalists would duet with pop singer Justin Timberlake, southflorida.com reports.
Awards for the Chili Peppers' included best rock song, and best rock performance by a duo or group.
The Grammy show kicked off with a blast from the past, with the Police performing a jazzy version of their classic hit "Roxanne" 23 years after they split up.
Sting, sporting black pants and a black vest baring muscular arms, clasped hands with bandmates Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers to take a bow at the end of the song for the cheering crowd at the Staples Center, canada.com reports.
The Grammys tried to tap that new technology with its “My Grammy Moment” contest, in which three unknown singers vied for the chance to perform on stage with Justin Timberlake. Viewers determined the winner by voting on the Internet and text messaging, but the winner's performance was forgettable.
The “Moment” also incorporated a bit of “American Idol” into the telecast. Last year the Fox talent contest crushed the Grammys on a head-to-head Wednesday night. So it was no surprise when the Grammys returned to Sunday this year.
Though the show featured a medley with bright new stars such as John Mayer, John Legend and Corinne Bailey Rae, it relied heavily on the classics: Nominee Lionel Richie sang his '80s hit “Hello” and Smokey Robinson sang the Motown classic “The Tracks of My Tears” in a tribute to R&B. Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Police, who split in 1984, reunited to kick off the show with their rendition of “Roxanne” – even though they were not nominated for anything.
Soon afterward, Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder's dueted on a remake of Wonder's “For Once In My Life” beat out two of the year's biggest songs – Nelly Furtado and Timbaland's “Promiscuous” and Shakira and Wyclef Jean's “Hips Don't Lie” – for best pop vocal collaboration, the AP reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik