Houston Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By Joey Guerra STAFF WRITER

Women took the stage, and sev­eral of the tro­phies, dur­ing Sun­day night’s Grammy Awards.

It was a pur­pose­ful step for­ward af­ter much crit­i­cism, which came to a head last year when Record­ing Academy pres­i­dent Neil Port­now told Va­ri­ety that women needed to “step up” in or­der to be rec­og­nized. Best new artist Alessia Cara was the only fe­male pre­sented with a solo Grammy dur­ing last year’s tele­cast.

Texas na­tive Kacey Mus­graves, who hails from Golden, won al­bum of the year for “Golden Hour,” a spry blend of coun­try and pop. Mus­graves, who opens Rodeo-Hous­ton Feb. 28 at NRG Sta­dium, also won best coun­try al­bum, coun­try solo per­for­mance and coun­try song. She struck an emo­tional note dur­ing the show with a per­for­mance of em­pow­er­ing bal­lad “Rain­bow.”

A tear­ful Lady Gaga took home the night’s first tele­vised award for best pop duo/group per­for­mance for “Shal­low” from “A Star is Born.” She also won best song writ­ten for vis­ual me­dia and pop solo per­for­mance. Brandi Carlile also won three for Amer­i­cana/roots cat­e­gories. English pop singer Dua Lipa nabbed best new artist.

“I guess this year we re­ally stepped up,” Lipa said dur­ing her ac­cep­tance speech, ref­er­enc­ing Port­now’s com­ment.

Cardi B earned best rap al­bum for “In­va­sion of Pri­vacy,” best­ing four male com­peti­tors. She is the first solo fe­male to ever win the award.

Host Ali­cia Keys was joined early Sun­day night by for­mer first lady Michelle Obama, Gaga, Jen­nifer Lopez and Jada Pin­kett Smith for a tes­ti­mony to the power of mu­sic.

Obama, no sur­prise, earned the loud­est re­sponse. She’s here in March at Toy­ota Cen­ter as part of her book tour.

“Mu­sic helps us share our­selves,” Obama said. “It al­lows us to hear one an­other.”

Hey, Gram­mys, how about

Obama to host next year’s gig?

Dolly Par­ton, who was named Mu­si­Cares per­son of the year, led a zippy trib­ute to her songs that fea­tured Lit­tle Big Town, Katy Perry, Mi­ley Cyrus and Tex­ans Mus­graves and Maren Mor­ris. Diana Ross, re­splen­dent in red, cel­e­brated her 75th birth­day next month with a med­ley of hits and a walk through the au­di­ence. Aretha Franklin was honored with a soul­ful take on “Nat­u­ral Woman” by Fan­ta­sia, An­dra Day and Hous­ton na­tive Yolanda Adams.

Child­ish Gam­bino’s win for song of the year (”This Is Amer­ica”) made him the first black artist to win since “We Are Young” by Fun and Janelle Monae in 2013 and the first black solo artist since Beyoncé won for “Sin­gle Ladies” in 2010. His win for record of the year makes him the first black solo act to win record of the year since Seal in 1996. His was also the first rap song to win song of the year.

But for ev­ery step for­ward Sun­day night, there were steps back­ward. Most no­tably, a blood­less Mo­town trib­ute led by — re­ally? — Jen­nifer Lopez and a gag­gle of white dancers. Smokey Robin­son, Keys and Ne-Yo were rel­e­gated to sup­port­ing roles. It was a frus­trat­ing turn af­ter years of black artists not get­ting their proper due. Mo­town leg­end Ross was in the build­ing. So were Chloe x Halle, who gor­geously han­dled a Donny Hath­away trib­ute; and Monae. And did any­one think to call Nor­mani, Beyoncé, Jen­nifer Hud­son or Fan­ta­sia? Camila Ca­bello and Young Thug opened the show with a punchy ver­sion of “Ha­vana” that fea­tured Ricky Martin, J Balvin and Ar­turo San­doval. Ca­bello is the first Latino to open the show.

Monae gave the night’s fiercest per­for­mance, chan­nel­ing Prince and Robert Palmer’s ’80s video vix­ens dur­ing “Make Me Feel.”

Among the lo­cals tak­ing home tro­phies were peren­nial fa­vorite Beyoncé, whose “Ev­ery­thing Is Love” with hus­band Jay-Z won ur­ban con­tem­po­rary al­bum. That brings her ca­reer to­tal to 23.

Blan­ton Alspaugh was named pro­ducer of the year, clas­si­cal, for a body of work that in­cludes the Hous­ton Grand Opera and Hous­ton Sym­phony.

Dal­las was repped by St. Vin­cent, whose “Mass-educ­tion” took home best record­ing pack­age and best rock song; and Kirk Franklin, fea­tured on best gospel per­for­mance/song win­ner “Never Alone” by Tori Kelly.

Fort Worth’s Leon Bridges tied with PJ Mo­ton for tra­di­tional R&B per­for­mance. And the in­com­pa­ra­ble Wil­lie Nel­son’s “My Way,” a trib­ute to Frank Si­na­tra, bested Tony Bennett and Bar­bra Streisand for tra­di­tional pop vo­cal al­bum.

Travis Scott went into the night with three nom­i­na­tions but left emp­ty­handed. His per­for­mance fea­tured Hous­ton pro­ducer Mike Dean, singer James Blake and, for some rea­son, Earth, Wind & Fire.

Un­of­fi­cial Hous­to­nian Drake, who con­stantly puts on for the city, took home best rap song for “God’s Plan,” best­ing his own “Sicko Mode” col­lab­o­ra­tion with Travis Scott. But it wasn’t re­ally a cel­e­bra­tion. Drake urged young artists to not put im­por­tance on awards.

“We play in an opin­ion-based sport, not a fac­tual-based sport. You al­ready won if you have peo­ple singing your songs word for word, if they're singing in your home­town. You're al­ready win­ning. You don't need this right here,” Drake said, hold­ing up his tro­phy.

And in true Grammy fash­ion, they cut to com­mer­cial be­fore he was done.

Matt Sayles / Invision / As­so­ci­ated Press

Travis Scott, who per­formed a med­ley Sun­day at the Grammy Awards in Los An­ge­les, is go­ing home to Hous­ton empty-handed.

Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Im­ages

Kacey Mus­graves ac­cepts the award for Al­bum of the Year for “Golden Hour,” her fourth win of the night.

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