TEXAN WINS BIG AT GRAMMYS
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.
Travis Scott, who performed a medley Sunday at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, is going home to Houston empty-handed.
Kacey Musgraves accepts the award for Album of the Year for “Golden Hour,” her fourth win of the night.