Billboard Hot 100 Fest

Backstage At The Grammys: News & Notes

Billboard's Larry Flick and Chuck Taylor, and members of The Hollywood Reporter staff took in the scene at the Grammy Awards last night (Feb. 23) in New York. Here's what they found out while backstag

Billboard's Larry Flick and Chuck Taylor, and members of The Hollywood Reporter staff took in the scene at the Grammy Awards last night (Feb. 23) in New York. Here's what they found out while backstage at New York's Madison Square Garden.

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AshantiAshanti, who won for contemporary R&B album, said she had "a wonderful night" at the Grammys and would be "content with her past year" even if she had not won an award. Her next album will likely come in July or so, with five tracks done already. The album will be different from last year's, she said, without giving more details.

In an update on her Hollywood plans, Ashanti said she looked at the script for the remake of the 1970s musical film "Sparkle" recently. "It will be a big industry thing with other people," such as Ja Rule, she said.

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Having their Open Wide/Monument/Columbia set "Home" nominated for album of the year meant something to the Dixie Chicks, according to singer/banjo player Emily Robison. "It's great to be a country artist and to be among those kinds of acts," she said, referring to winner Norah Jones, and fellow nominees Bruce Springsteen, Nelly, and Eminem.

The group won three of the four awards for which it was nominated, including best country instrumental award for "Lil' Jack Slade." The group's Martie Maguire admitted, "We're sorry we didn't do an instrumental on the first two records. We talked about it. It provides a showcase for Emily and myself."

As for their upcoming North American tour, lead singer Natalie Maines described the trip as "a new beast. The stage will be 360 [degrees]. Paul Simon told us earlier today that it takes time to get used to, but that we will."

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Kelly Rowland, who won in the rap/sung collaboration category for her Nelly duet "Dilemma," said she will likely be back in the recording studio with Destiny's Child this winter, after all three members finish solo projects. Michelle Williams is working on a gospel record, while Beyonce Knowles is finishing work on an album, she said.

Rowland also said that she would love to collaborate with Common some time, because "I just love his music."

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Dirty VegasDirty Vegas singer Steve Smith said the U.K. act's victory in the race for best dance music recording (for "Days Gone By") was particularly gratifying because it was another step in its bid to "bring music invented in America back to its people."

That said, he says that the act calls upon more than club icons for inspiration when assembling its material. "We come from a club background, but we're also heavily influenced by Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, and James Taylor. Songwriting is so important; it's something we strongly respect." Immediately following the Grammys, Dirty Vegas was due to return to the U.K. for a concert tour that will hit the States in April.

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Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl said he breathed "a big sigh of relief" after participating in the Grammys' tribute to the Clash, which was "exciting but a little nerve-racking."

When asked about rehearsal for the rendition of the punk classic "London Calling," he noted that the line-up of Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, and Little Steven Van Zandt worked on it "almost enough. It was cool to just get up there and jam the song out. I hope that people felt that passion that we were experiencing on stage. It was a blast to do."

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Singer/songwriter Jesse Harris, who won the song of the year Grammy for "Don't Know Why" (which scored Norah Jones the record of the year and female pop vocal performance awards), said he will release his debut album this summer. Like his compatriot Jones, who records for Blue Note Records, he is signed to an established jazz label, Verve Records, which will issue his album through its Blue Thumb imprint.

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John MayerJohn Mayer noted that male singer/songwriters haven't had the success that their female counterparts have in recent years. "Maybe it's an issue of believability," he said. "Maybe when see a guy up there being sensitive it's harder to believe."

As for his best male pop vocal performance award for his single "Your Body Is a Wonderland," Mayer said, "This Grammy has nothing to do with what I've already done. It kind of represents the future." He's already written songs for a new album. "Maybe I got lucky with one record. Let's see what the second one is."

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Diana Krall felt "great" and was "still kind of dizzy" about winning the jazz vocal album award for her release "Live in Paris" (Verve). She recently began working on a new album after taking a few months off following a world tour. Recording is likely to begin in June or July, Krall said.

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Blues legend B.B. King, who won two Grammys to bring his career total to 13, said he still enjoys receiving awards at age 77. "I feel different; I'm a little happier today than when I won the others, except for the first one," King said, adding that he would not mind returning next year to pick up more Grammys.

King is working on a new album that "will be different from anything you've heard me do as a whole album." It will be targeted at "young-thinking people and lovers," he said.

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UsherR&B performer Usher said he is "just starting thinking about my new album," which will be "a more musical album." Working on building his own label has been "a beautiful experience" but also "somewhat of a rough one," he said. Usher also said he has further acting plans but didn't elaborate.

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David Silveria, drummer for heavy metal winners Korn, said the band is writing songs for a new album. "It will be out in fall, we hope," he said. But Korn is taking a week off from studio work, which explains why Silveria appeared in front of the media by himself. "They are at home, resting," he said of his bandmates.

As previously reported, Korn will strike out on the Ozzfest tour in July and August. The band is happy about the everyday support it receives from fans, Silveria said, and a Grammy win is "icing on the cake."

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Robin Williams, who won the spoken comedy album award for his Columbia concert recording "Robin Williams - Live 2002," was asked about his musical tastes. "The Rolling Stones are very important to me," he said. "A lot of jazz. I love Keith Jarrett. Recently heard amazing English group called the Streets ... Music was always important, especially growing up in San Francisco in 1969, going to the Filmore Auditorium and seeing Janis Joplin on a double bill with Paul Butterfield -- and there was no DVD and no one ripping them off."

"I'm glad [Eminem] won," he added. "People think he's one thing and he's another. He's got a lot of content."

As for his own musical career, he was less serious. "Singing I haven't done yet, but maybe I can do a song like 'Phantom of the Oprah," or a duet with Michael Jackson called 'Where's My Nose,' something like that," he said, before noting, "I'm sweating like Elizabeth Taylor after a Mexican meal."