Lady Gaga wins 3 Gram­mys, Michelle Obama makes ap­pear­ance

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - KICKOFF - By Mes­fin Fekadu

LOS AN­GE­LES — 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 sol­idary 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 mul­ti­ple Gram­mys.

Carlile won 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.

“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 my 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.

Women have a strong pres­ence in the top cat­e­gories. Five of the eight al­bum-of-the-year nom­i­nees are women, in­clud­ing Carlile's “By the Way, I For­give You,” Janelle Monae's “Dirty Com­puter,” Cardi B's “In­va­sion of Pri­vacy,” Mus­graves' “Golden Hour,” and H.E.R.’s self-ti­tled al­bum are also in con­tention.

Six of the best-new-artist nom­i­nees are women, in­clud­ing H.E.R., Chloe x Halle, Margo Price, Dua Lipa, Bebe Rexha and Jorja Smith.

When asked about the lack of women in the top cat­e­gories at the 2018 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 much-crit­i­cized 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 that 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 (non-clas­si­cal) 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 are not at­tend­ing 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 com­plained 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.

Oth­ers set to per­form Sun­day in­cluded Cardi B, Dolly Par­ton, Lady Gaga, Travis Scott, Red Hot Chili Pep­pers, Diana Ross, Dan + Shay, H.E.R., Lit­tle Big Town, Post Malone and Chloe x Halle. Yolanda Adams, Fan­ta­sia and An­dra Day will honor the late Aretha Franklin with a per­for­mance.

Matt Sayles / As­so­ci­ated Press

Lady Gaga, from left, Jada Pin­kett Smith, Ali­cia Keys, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez speak at the 61st an­nual Grammy Awards on Sun­day, Feb. 10, 2019, in Los An­ge­les.

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