Pow­er­ful women in spot­light

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Mesfin Fekadu

South Florida na­tive Ari­ana Grande won her first-ever Grammy in the Best Pop Vo­cal Al­bum cat­e­gory.

The Grammy Awards kicked off Sun­day 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,” Obama said at the Sta­ples Cen­ter in Los An­ge­les. “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 hosted the show that aired 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 mul­ti­ple Gram­mys.

Carlile won three hon­ors in the Amer­i­cana cat­e­gory and was to 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.

“Thank you so much. I got to thank God, thank you for look­ing out for me. Thank you for my fam­ily,” she said. “I wish Bradley was here with me right now.”

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, Crit­ics’ Choice Movie Awards and the Satel­lite Awards.

When asked about the lack of women in the top cat­e­gories at last year’s Gram­mys, Record­ing Academy CEO Neil Port­now said women need to “step up.” He later ac­knowl­edged that it was a “poor choice of words,” and his much­crit­i­cized re­marks forced the academy to launch a new task force fo­cused on in­clu­sion and di­ver­sity.

Ari­ana Grande won her first Grammy in the same week she pub­licly blasted Gram­mys pro­ducer Ken Ehrlich and ac­cused him of ly­ing about why she was no longer per­form­ing at the show.

“I know i’m not there tonight (trust, i tried and still truly wished it had worked out tbh) and i know i said i try not to put too much weight into these things . but (ex­ple­tive) . this is wild and beau­ti­ful. thank you so much,” she tweeted af­ter learn­ing about her win.

Child­ish Gam­bino, Tori Kelly and Lau­ren Daigle won two awards each. Bey­once, Jay-Z, Ella Mai, H.E.R., Phar­rell Wil­liams, Hugh Jack­man, St­ingy, Shaggy, Dave Chap­pelle, “Weird Al” Yankovic, the late Chris Cor­nell, Greta Van Fleet and even for­mer Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter also picked up early awards ahead of the live show.

There was a tie for best rap per­for­mance, and Drake was sur­pris­ingly not one of the win­ners. Drake’s “Nice for What” lost to An­der­son Paak’s “Bub­blin’ ” and Ken­drick La­mar, Jay Rock, Fu­ture and James Blake’s “King’s Dead,” from the “Black Pan­ther” sound­track.

Beck was a dou­ble win­ner dur­ing the pre-tele­cast, tak­ing home best al­ter­na­tive mu­sic al­bum and best en­gi­neered al­bum (non­clas­si­cal) for “Col­ors.” Emily Lazar, one of the en­gi­neers who worked on the al­bum and won along­side Beck, said on­stage that she was the first fe­male mas­ter­ing en­gi­neer to win in the lat­ter cat­e­gory.

Sev­eral big stars did not at­tend the Gram­mys, in­clud­ing Grande, Tay­lor Swift, Ken­drick La­mar (the top nom­i­nee with eight), and Drake, nom­i­nated for seven awards.

Drama has sur­rounded the Gram­mys around its Mo­town Records trib­ute: Some people ob­jected when a promo aired on

CBS show­ing Jen­nifer Lopez as the act set to honor the leg­endary record la­bel, which launched the ca­reers of the Jack­son 5, the Supremes, Ste­vie Won­der, Marvin Gaye and more.

Some com­plained that a black artist should be in­volved in the trib­ute, while oth­ers said stronger vo­cal­ists should per­form over Lopez. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Gram­mys didn’t re­turn an email seek­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion about the trib­ute.

Camila Ca­bello kicked off the show with a per­for­mance fea­tur­ing J Balvin, Ricky Mar­tin and Young Thug.

ROBYN BECK/GETTY-AFP

Dolly Par­ton, left, and Mi­ley Cyrus per­form dur­ing the Grammy Awards in Los An­ge­les on Sun­day.

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