Plant, Krauss take the lead at the Grammys

[9 February 2009]

By Ben Wener

The Orange County Register (MCT)

LOS ANGELES - The 51st annual Grammy Awards are 2 ½ hours old at Staples Center, and the acclaimed duo of Robert Plant & Alison Krauss have taken the lead over Lil Wayne and British band Coldplay with four wins.

But all of that has been eclipsed by pre-telecast drama involving Chris Brown. The double nominee, who bailed on his planned performance at the last minute, is under investigation for allegedly assaulting an unidentified woman late Saturday night as he was leaving Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party. Brown’s girlfriend, Bahamian-born pop star Rihanna, also dropped out of the telecast.

At the ceremony itself, however, leading nominee Lil Wayne had the early lead at the ceremony, the New Orleans rapper having racked up his three wins in his field prior to the telecast, including prizes for rap song (“Lollipop”), rap solo performance (“A Milli”) and rap performance by a duo or group, for “Swagga Like Us,” a win he shares with Jay-Z, T.I. and Kanye West.

Kanye also picked up the statuette for rap/sung collaboration, for his duet with Estelle, “American Boy,” bringing his haul to two.

But Plant & Krauss, a favorite for album of the year, have surpassed him now, winning for record of the year (for “Please Read the Letter”), country collaboration with vocals (for “Killing the Blues”), pop collaboration with vocals (for “Rich Woman”) and contemporary folk/Americana album (for “Raising Sand”). Should they win the top award, they may be the night’s biggest winners - and Grammy darling Krauss’ total haul may rise to nearly 30 statuettes.

Coldplay now has three Grammys, having won song of the year and the prize for pop performance by a duo or group, both for “Viva la Vida,” as well as best rock album.

The Brits have lost in two races, anyway: the award for rock performance by a duo or group went to Kings of Leon’s “Sex on Fire,” while Bruce Springsteen’s “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” won for best rock song.

Fellow album of the year nominee Radiohead, meanwhile, took best alternative music recording for “In Rainbows.”

Jennifer Hudson took the first telecast trophy of the night - and her performance of “You Pulled Me Through” stands as the evening’s most dramatic moment so far.

Handed her prize by Whitney Houston, Hudson, who made her first appearance since the murders of her mother, brother and nephew last weekend at the Super Bowl, won her first Grammy for best R&B album, for her self-titled debut.

The singer, also an Oscar winner, earned a standing ovation. “Wow, I’m just in awe right now,” she said. “Thank God, who has brought me through. Thank my family in heaven and those who are here today.”

Country legend George Strait finally claimed his first Grammy - his disc “Troubadour” won for best country album. Meanwhile, country duo Sugarland has picked up two, for best country song and best country vocal performance by a duo or group, both for “Stay.”

“I told myself to be cool,” Sugarland vocalist Jennifer Nettles said to start her acceptance speech, “because Paul McCartney and Coldplay are here tonight.”

So far the list of artists having added two Grammys to their mantle is already quite long.

Britsoul newcomer Adele has racked up a pair, having been named best new artist and taken home the prize for female pop vocal performance, for her sleeper hit “Chasing Pavements.”

“I’m gonna cry,” the overcome singer said as she won her second Grammy, offering praise to her fellow nominees: “Duffy, I love you, I think you’re amazing ... Jonas Brothers, I love you as well.”

Brad Paisley took the trophies for country instrumental (for “Cluster Pluck”) and male country vocal performance (for “Letter to Me”).

Album of the year nominee Ne-Yo has garnered Grammys for male R&B vocal performance and R&B song, both for “Miss Independent.” Soul legend Al Green, meanwhile, won awards for both contemporary R&B duo or group (for “Stay with Me,” with John Legend) and traditional R&B duo or group (for “You’ve Got the Love I Need,” with Anthony Hamilton).

Acclaimed French techno duo Daft Punk swept the electronic-music and dance categories. Kirk Franklin picked up two more in the gospel field. Peter Gabriel’s work for the Pixar film “WALL-E” has earned him a pair of Grammys.

Jose Feliciano, Jaguares and Juanes have won in Latin categories. Nabbing jazz wins: Chick Corea, Terence Blanchard, Cassandra Wilson and Randy Brecker.

Multiple nominees Duffy, John Mayer and Carrie Underwood have won one apiece. Metallica won its sixth trophy for best metal performance; the Mars Volta’s “Wax Simulacra” was named best hard rock performance.

The late George Carlin won his fourth Grammy for best comedy album, for his final album, “It’s Bad for Ya.” The award was accepted by his daughter, Kelly McCall.

Sought-after Rick Rubin, who has worked recently with Metallica, Neil Diamond and Weezer, was named producer of the year, non-classical. Weezer’s clip for “Pork and Beans,” meanwhile, won for best short-form music video. The long-form trophy went to director Peter Bogdanovich for his Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers documentary “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”

Also picking up a prize: Natalie Cole, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Burning Spear, Pete Seeger, B.B. King, Dr. John, They Might Be Giants (for best musical album for children), Jack White (for co-engineering the Raconteurs’ “Consolers of the Lonely”), the “Juno” soundtrack, the Eagles, Alicia Keys, and the tribute Zappa Plays Zappa (for best rock instrumental).

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