Veteran rock act Steely Dan stole the spotlight at the 43rd annual Grammy

Veteran rock act Steely Dan stole the
spotlight at the 43rd annual Grammy
Awards last night (Feb. 21) in Los
Angeles. The band's first album in 20
years, "Two Against Nature" (Giant)
produced four awards, including the
coveted album of the year honor, for the
duo of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker,
who had never before won a Grammy.

More surprisingly, the duo took home a pair of pop awards -- best pop vocal
album and, and best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal for the
single "Cousin Dupree." In the latter category, Steely Dan beat out substantially
younger competition in the Backstreet Boys, Barenaked Ladies, the Coors, and
'N Sync.

"We've been around a long time," Fagen said in accepting one of the awards.
"It's nice to get one of these." "Two Against Nature" also won the best
engineered album, non classical award.

The pre-Grammys controversy that swirled around the nominations received by
rapper Eminem was indeed in force during the ceremony, where the issue of his
lyrics were addressed in comedic fashion by host Jon Stewart, and more
seriously by Recording Academy/NARAS president/CEO Michael Greene, as
well as the rapper himself.

"Thanks to those who could look past the controversy and see this album for
what it was. And what it wasn't," Eminem said in accepting the best rap album
Grammy for "The Marshall Mathers LP" (Web/Aftermath/Interscope). The artist
also won the best rap solo performance for "The Real Slim Shady" and shared
the award for the best rap performance by a duo or group with his mentor Dr.
Dre, for the track "Forgot About Dre." Dr. Dre also won the producer of the year
Grammy.

Openly gay artist Elton John came under intense
criticism from gay activists for agreeing to perform
with Eminem during the Grammy show. Their duet
on Eminem's song ''Stan'' was one of few
performances that drew a standing ovation from the
audience at the Staples Center. Also garnering such
praise was an intense, percussive performance by
the Blue Man Group, Moby, and Jill Scott.

U2 and country singer Faith Hill earned their share
of the Grammy spotlight, each winning three
awards. U2 won all three awards for which its Interscope single "Beautiful Day"
was nominated -- record of the year, song of the year, and best rock
performance by a duo or group.

"It's a very unique emotion I'm feeling right now. I think it's called humility," said
U2's Bono, who added that fellow nominee Macy Gray and others should
share the band's award. "I'm completely not used to it."

Hill, meanwhile, won best country album for "Breathe" (Warner Bros.) and best
country vocal performance for the title track. "Let's Make Love," her duet with
husband Tim McGraw, won the best country collaboration with vocals
Grammy.

D'Angelo's ''Voodoo'' won best R&B album and his song, ''Untitled (How Does
It Feel)'' won best male R&B vocal performance. Destiny's Child ''Say My
Name'' won best R&B song and best R&B performance by a group.

Macy Gray won the best female pop vocal Grammy for her song ''I Try' (Epic),
while the best new artist honor was given to singer/songwriter Shelby Lynne,
who quipped, "13 years and six albums to get here," in accepting the honor. "I
stand here tonight representing nothing but music."

Grammys were presented in 100 categories this year, although only 13 were
handed out on the air. Among those was a new award for best Native American
music album, which was presented by Robbie Robertson (a tireless advocate of
America's indigenous music) and actor Val Kilmer to Tom Bee and Douglas
Spotted Eagle for the album "Gathering Of Nations Pow Wow" (Soar).

A rendition of "Music" by Madonna opened the ceremony, which also included
a diverse line-up of performances by the likes of Paul Simon, Nnenna Freelon
and Take 6, Destiny's Child, Macy Gray, a bluegrass turn by Dolly Parton,
and a Spanish-language number by Christina Aguilera.

The academy and many musicians who defended Eminem's nominations cited
his right to free expression. About 100 citizens gathered outside the venue to
exercise their rights to the same.

The strongest campaign against him was organized by GLAAD -- the Gay and
Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation -- which protested against him outside the
Staples Center, site of the Grammy awards. Other protesters included members
of the National Organization for Women.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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