It was Amy Winehouse‘s night: The British pop singer pulled off a near-clean sweep at the 50th annual Grammy Awards Sunday night, scoring five trophies including record of the year, song of the year and best new artist, while putting on a passionate performance via satellite from London.
Winehouse won all the night’s top awards, except album of the year, which went to Herbie Hancock for River: The Joni Letters.
For Winehouse, the 24-year-old had recently seen her music success overshadowed by a public battle with substance abuse, and last week, she fought to get a U.S. visa to attend the ceremony at the Staples Center. But Sunday night brought the focus back onto her breakthrough album Back to Black and her single “Rehab.”
In an emotional acceptance speech via satellite from London after a performance of “You Know That I’m No Good” and “Rehab,” Winehouse, thanked her producer Mark Ronson (who won producer of the year), her mother and father, and her husband Blake Fielder-Civil. “To my Blake, my Blake incarcerated,” she said. Fielder-Civil is currently awaiting trial in a London jail.
Hancock, whose album prevented Winehouse’s sweep, acknowledged that it was odd for a jazz artist to beat out pop music for the top prize. “I’d like to thank the Academy for courageously breaking the mold this time,” said Hancock, “and in doing so honor the giants upon whose shoulders I stand.”
Kanye West’s Tribute to Mom
Kanye West, who led the pack with eight nominations going into L.A.’s Staples Center Sunday night, also delivered one of the night’s most anticipated performances, during which he got down on his knees for an emotional tribute to his late mother Donda West, performing “Hey Mama,” while sporting the word “Mama” shaved into the back of his head. That followed a glow-in-the-dark rendition of “Stronger” with Daft Punk.
West picked up awards for best rap album, rap song, best rap solo performance, and was listed with Common for best rap performance for a duo or group (for Common’s “Southside,” in which West was featured).
Said West: “I know you’re really proud of me right now and I know you wouldn’t want me to stop and you want me to be the No. 1 artist in the world, and Mama, all I’m going to do is keep making you proud. We run this!”
Justin Timberlake won Grammys for best male pop vocal performance for “What Goes Around… Comes Around” and best dance recording for “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows.”
Carrie Underwood took home a Grammy for best female vocal performance and best country song for “Before He Cheats,” which she performed early in the broadcast after being introduced by the night’s first performer and winner, Alicia Keys (for best female vocal R&B performance for “No One”).
Keys performed twice during the ceremony, opening the broadcast with a virtual duet with Frank Sinatra, and later performing her hit “No One,” with a little help from pal John Mayer.
Other big performances included Beyoncé and Tina Turner, dueting on “Proud Mary” after Turner, 68, belted out “What’s Love Got To Do with It.” Earlier in the night, Rihanna teamed up with Morris Day & The Time for a mashed-up medley of their hits, including her Grammy-nominated “Umbrella,” which earned Rihanna her very first Grammy for best rap/sung collaboration with Jay-Z.
Taking Jay-Z’s hand and pulling him up to the podium, Rihanna said, “Dad, I know I promised you I’m going to give you my first Grammy but we might have to fight for this one.”