All Eyes on Kanye West, Amy Winehouse at Grammys

Despite personal struggles, the stars – and many others – are set to perform at the 50th anniversary telecast

Photo: Kristian Dowling/Getty; John D. Shearer/Beimages

The Grammy Awards is celebrating its 50th anniversary – and this year’s telecast promises plenty of what the Recording Academy offers best: thrilling live performances with an emphasis on unique musical pairings.

Nominee Kanye West was a late, but high profile, addition to the performance slate. The rapper, who leads the pack with eight nominations including album of the year, is expected to deliver a moving tribute to his mother, Donda West, featuring his hits “Stronger” and “Hey Mama,” an insider reports. Many industry insiders consider West to be a frontrunner in several categories, including album of the year, for his third album, Graduation.

Also a leading nominee – and not immune to personal struggles herself – Amy Winehouse is tipped by many to be a frontrunner in several of the six categories for which she’s nominated (including best new artist and record of the year for her hit “Rehab”). And while the beleaguered Brit scored a visa late Friday afternoon, she won’t be making the transatlantic flight; instead, Winehouse will be performing at the ceremony via satellite. “I’m really sorry I can’t be there but I appreciate that I’m being given a second chance via satellite,” Winehouse said in a statement.

Among the other high-profile Grammy performers: Beyoncé will perform alongside Tina Turner. (Knowles is a contender for record of the year for her song “Irreplaceable.”) Meanwhile Fergie is scheduled to duet with John Legend. And four-time nominee Rihanna will take the stage with pop-funk band The Time.

In the days leading up to the telecast, which will broadcast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles (CBS, 8 p.m. EST), musicians flocked to Los Angeles for events like the annual MusiCares Person of the Year gala which, this year, honored the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. And the Black Eyed Peas performed at their annual Peapod Foundation’s benefit for the Entertainment Industry Foundation, in Hollywood which included a three-hour jam session featuring performances by Common and other guests.

The event itself will feature major celebrity guests, including presenters like Miley Cyrus and Chris Brown. Unlike other award shows in the season, the Writers Guild of America granted a waiver to the Recording Academy and agreed not to picket the telecast.

Other major Grammy nominees this year include: Ne-Yo, Jay-Z, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake and T-Pain – with five each.

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