Female acts, rap win big at Grammys
Santa Fe Opera scores award for work based on the life of Steve Jobs
LOS ANGELES — Women returned at the Grammys on Sunday as female acts won album of the year and best new artist, while rap also triumphed, with Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” becoming the first rap-based song to win record and song of the year.
The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra received a Grammy for best opera recording for “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs.”
Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” picked up album of the year, and Dua Lipa won best new artist.
Gambino was the night’s big winner, picking up four honors, including best music video and best rap/sung performance.
Drake surprised the music world when he emerged on stage to accept the best rap song trophy but told the room of musicians that winning awards isn’t necessary if you have real fans attending your concerts and singing your songs.
Drake, who rarely attends awards shows, won the honor for his massive hit “God’s Plan.”
He tried to continue speaking but was cut off as the ceremony suddenly went to a commercial.
Rap has endured a longtime losing streak at the Grammys. The last time a rapper won album of the year was in 2004, with Outkast. Only a handful of rappers have won best new artist.
Cardi B made history as the first solo female to win best rap album (Lauryn Hill won as a member of the Fugees at the 1997 Grammys).
The Grammys kicked off with a group of powerful women, including Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga, describing the role of music in their lives — a display that came a year after female voices were somewhat muted at the 2018 ceremony.
“Music has always helped me tell my story,” said Obama, who surprised the audience with her appearance. “Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves. It allows us to hear one another.”
Gaga told the crowd: “They said I was weird, that my look, that my choices, that my sound wouldn’t work. But music told me not to listen to them.”
Jada Pinkett Smith and Jennifer Lopez also spoke and stood in solidarity with Obama, Gaga and Alicia Keys, who is hosting the show airing on CBS.
“Yes, ladies,” Keys said. “There’s nothing better than this.”
The opening contrasted with last year’s Grammys, where male acts dominated in nominations and the only woman competing for the top award, Lorde, didn’t get a chance to perform onstage.
But this year, Gaga, Brandi Carlile and Kacey Musgraves won three Grammys each.
Carlile took three honors in the Americana category and will compete for the three biggest awards during the live show: album, song and record of the year.
Gaga also won three, including best pop duo/group performance, a win she shared with Bradley Cooper.
Gaga, now a nine-time Grammy winner, won best pop solo performance for “Joanne,” while hit “Shallow,” from “A Star is Born,” was named best song written for visual media. The song is nominated for an Oscar and also won at the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and the Satellite Awards.
Women have a strong presence in the top categories. Five of the eight album-of-the-year nominees were women, including Carlile’s “By the Way, I Forgive You,” Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer,” Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” and H.E.R.’s self-titled album.
British singer Dua Lipa alluded to Portnow’s 2018 words when she won best new artist.
“I guess this year we’ve really stepped up,” she said after telling the audience she was grateful to be nominated alongside so many female performers. Six of the best-new-artist nominees were women, including H.E.R., Chloe x Halle, Margo Price, Bebe Rexha and Jorja Smith.
Musgraves picked up best country album for “Golden Hour,” best country solo performance for “Butterflies” and best country song for “Space Cowboy.”
From left, Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez appear at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Sunday in Los Angeles.