LOS ANGELES (AP) — The late Ray Charles’s duets album “Genius Loves Company,” recorded during the final months of his life, led the Grammys with seven wins last night.
The sentimental favorite won record of the year and best pop collaboration for his ballad with Norah Jones, “Here We Go Again,” as well as best pop album. Charles also was contending for album of the year.
“I think it just shows how wonderful music can be,” Jones said as she accepted the trophy for record of the year.
Other winners included Alicia Keys and Usher, each nominated for eight Grammys. By mid-evening Keys had won four while Usher had three. They shared one award, for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals for their No. 1 duet, “My Boo.”
U2 also had three awards, including best rock performance by a duo or group, while Green Day, the most nominated rock act with six nods for their politically charged punk rock opera “American Idiot,” won best rock album.
“Rock‘n’roll can be dangerous and fun at the same time, so thanks a lot,” lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong said as he accepted the award.
Keys was chasing a record Grammy haul — she could have won more than any other woman in one evening. In 2002 Keys won five Grammys for her debut album, “Songs in A Minor,” becoming only the second woman to win that many in one night. (Lauryn Hill won five in 1999; so did Jones in 2003).
The most nominated artist of the year may be the most multifaceted — Kanye West, the songwriter/producer who made his rap debut in 2004 with the cutting-edge CD “The College Dropout.” West was nominated for 10 Grammys, including album of the year. In the pre-telecast ceremony he won two, including best rap song for “Jesus Walks.”
But he was upset in the best new artist category, losing to Maroon 5 in a race that also included country singer Gretchen Wilson, the Los Lonely Boys and soul siren Joss Stone.
Maroon 5’s Adam Levine seemed almost apologetic after winning.
“Kanye West, I want to thank you so much for being wonderful,” he said. The camera cut away to West, who looked less than pleased.
Some expected West to have a meltdown like at the American Music Awards, where he complained bitterly backstage after losing the same award to Wilson. But on Sunday night he went on to deliver an eye-popping performance of “Jesus Walks” and an emotional acceptance speech for the best rap album award.
After referencing the car accident a few years ago that almost took his life, West promised to live life to the fullest: “I plan to celebrate and scream and pop champagne every chance I get because I’m at the Grammys, baby!”
He also referenced his American Music Awards embarrassment. “Everybody wanted to know what would I do if I didn’t win. I guess we’ll never know,” he said, holding his trophy up high.
At least West didn’t have to wait decades to get a trophy, as did some veterans finally honored by the Recording Academy.
Steve Earle’s left-leaning “The Revolution Starts … Now” won for contemporary folk album. And Rod Stewart — who had complained in recent years about never winning a Grammy — won for traditional pop vocal album for his standards recording “Stardust … The Great American Songbook Vol. III.”