Country GRAMMY: Kacey Musgraves Wins Big, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban Perform

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Kacey Musgraves performs during the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA

The country music portion of the 56th GRAMMY Awards featured some strong performances and winners that definitely didn’t push the shock button, but featured some deserving recipients nonetheless. 

The big winner of the night was Kacey Musgraves, who continues to impress the critics. The Mercury recording artist continues to rack up the critical acclaim for her "Merry Go 'Round" single. Though it only peaked at No. 10 on the Country Airplay chart, the record topped many "Best Of’ lists for 2013 – including here in The 615. The song netted a trophy for Musgraves, as well as co-writers Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne in the Best Country Song listing, winning over bigger hits by Taylor Swift, Lee Brice, Miranda Lambert, and Blake Shelton. Musgraves also won the only televised award presentation of the night for Same Trailer Different Park.

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Darius Rucker earned his very first solo GRAMMY for his cover of "Wagon Wheel." The Capitol recording artist won in the Best Country Solo Performance category over a talented group of competitors like Lee Brice, Hunter Hayes, Lambert, and Shelton. Rucker’s performance of the classic -- originally started by Bob Dylan and finished years later by Ketch Secor was definitely one of the biggest hits of the year, and it’s tie to Dylan also didn’t hurt it’s visibility in the category -- though Rucker offered an energetic take on the song. 

The winner in the Best Country Duo / Group Performance was the Civil Wars, who won for "From This Valley," a song from their most recent album. The duo -- despite no tour to promote either -- has been a critical darling, so it’s no surprise that Joy Williams and John Paul White triumphed over Little Big Town, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, and Tim McGraw -- all whom received greater airplay for their most recent efforts as well as Country Music Hall of Fame members Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, and Vince Gill -- who was nominated for his harmonies on Kelly Clarkson’s "Don’t Rush." 

Kacey Musgraves continues to rack up the critical acclaim for her "Merry Go 'Round" single. Though it only peaked at No. 10 on the Country Airplay chart, the record topped many "Best Of" lists for 2013 -- including here in The 615. The song netted a trophy for Musgraves, as well as co-writers Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne in the Best Country Song listing, winning over bigger hits by Taylor Swift, Brice, Lambert, and Shelton.

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Though not included in the country listing, the Americana category featured wins from some long-established artists. Edie Brickell and Steve Martin netted the GRAMMY for Best American Roots Song for "Love Has Come For You," the title cut from their collaborative effort. Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, and the Del McCoury Band each added trophies to their collections for wins in the Best Americana Album (Harris and Crowell’s Old Yellow Moon), Best Bluegrass Album (McCoury’s The Streets Of Baltimore), while legendary tunesmith Guy Clark earned his first Grammy for Best Folk Album (Clark’s excellent My Favorite Picture Of You). 

Performance-wise, there were some strong moments, with (in the opinion of The 615) the top moment belonging to Taylor Swift for her emotional take on "All Too Well" from "Red." She continues to dazzle with how far she has developed as a songwriter and singer, and her GRAMMY performance was strong proof of that. Hunter Hayes dazzled in the early minutes of the telecast with his new single "Invisible." Keith Urban teamed with Gary Clark, Jr. for "Cop Car," which featured some strong vocal and instrumental work for both. Kacey Musgraves and some neon cactuses performed a cheeky "Follow Your Arrow." Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson appeared to perform their lines from "Highwayman," and were joined by Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton, who helped bring the audience to their feet with Haggard’s "Okie From Muskogee," before the four closed out with "Mamma’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys," originally a hit for Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Many artists seemed to be enjoying the performance, including Jamie Foxx, Ringo Starr, Katy Perry, and Beyonce.