Aretha Franklin Dies
Billboard Goes Backstage At The Grammys
Notes from backstage at last night's (Feb. 13) 47th annual Grammy Awards ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.Notes from backstage at last night's (Feb. 13) 47th annual Grammy Awards ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Kanye West said it was "scary" winning best rap album for his Roc-A-Fella debut, "The College Dropout." "It's hard to best someone's last album," he said, referring to fellow nominee Jay-Z's "The Black Album." "But I definitely appreciate winning that."
As for losing the coveted best new artist award to Maroon5, he noted, "I love Maroon5. With awards, they make it seem like one winner, but we all are winners in life."
Referring to his much-publicized outburst after losing the same American Music Award to country singer Gretchen Wilson last year, West said he had apologized to her but not to AMA producer Dick Clark.
"Even when I'm stunting, I don't do it to hurt anyone else but just to have fun," he declared. "I thought I might have hurt her so I apologized. I don't apologize to Dick Clark and the AMAs because they shouldn't have had me perform. I see with other awards show that it's political. I would prefer to honestly lose than win dishonestly."
Norah Jones, wearing a Diane von Furstenberg dress, described herself backstage as fashion-challenged. But musically the singer/songwriter had no problems, picking up several Grammy statuettes, including record of the year and best pop collaboration with vocals -- both for "Here We Go Again" with the late Ray Charles -- and best female pop vocal performance ("Sunrise").
Jones was the darling of the 2002 Grammy ceremony, where she won five awards, including record and song of the year ("Don't Know Why"), album of the year ("Come Away With Me") and best new artist.
"I didn't think I would win," said Jones, adding that her latest Grammy go-round was less pressure-packed. "My first year at the Grammys, I was in a daze. This time it's been a little easier. Actually, I'm still pretty freaked out because I'm singing with Stevie Wonder and everyone [on the tsunami relief performance of the Beatles' "Across the Universe"]. But I'm glad Ray Charles is getting the recognition for who he is. I love him."
A number of veterans took home their first Grammys, including rocker-turned-crooner Rod Stewart, metal stalwart Motorhead and Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson, won best rock instrumental performance for "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" from "Brian Wilson Presents Smile" (Nonesuch).
"I waited 42 years for this first Grammy and it was so worth the wait," said Wilson. "The Grammy represents a triumph and achievement in music that I feel I deserve. 'Smile' took 38 years to develop. There are a lot of sentimental reasons and I feel great relief to have finished it."
"Scrubs" star Zach Braff was stunned to take home the Grammy as executive producer of best compilation soundtrack album for a motion picture, television or other visual media for the film "Garden State," which he wrote and directed. Although Braff made the film on a shoestring budget, he was able to load the soundtrack with music from such artists as Coldplay, the Shins, Zero 7 and Frou Frou.
"This is for all the musicians who, when we had no money for the movie, let us show them a clip and then they said, 'yes,'" Braff said. He added a note to the musicians in the audience: "I would encourage you all that when a movie maker calls you and says, 'I have no movie,' at least look at the scene."
Singer/songwriter Steve Earle, who won his first Grammy for "The Revolution Starts... Now" (Artemis/E-Squared) after eight previous nominations, has a litmus test for if his albums have enough edge: "If I'm not pissing off the New York Post or Fox News, I know I'm not going my job."
"The only review I've ever framed in my life was the one-star review in the New York Post for [2002's] 'Jerusalem,'" he added. "I'm a well-known pinko so no one's really surprised with what I say anymore."
For producer of the year John Shanks, many backstage questions centered on his work with Ashlee Simpson and her performance woes on "Saturday Night Live" and during the Orange Bowl halftime show. He said of their first meeting, "I was really knocked out by her energy, her enthusiasm. I drilled her about what kind of music do you listen to, what kind of music do you want to make. We got together the next day and started writing. When I met her, she reminded me of Marianne Faithfull, Joan Jett, a little Chrissie Hynde. There was a tone to her voice that I really enjoyed."
For Basement Jaxx, the win for best electronic/dance album, "Kish Kash," was bittersweet in that it was the act's last project for its U.S. label, Astralwerks. The reason for the split? Simon Ratcliffe suggested, "The album is quite varied; it's not easy to pigeonhole."
And, therefore, added partner Felix Buxton, too tough to market Stateside. "It's difficult in America," he said. "It's very segregated, very black and white. Coming from Europe, it's a lot more of a melting pot there. It can be all things in one go, which is often what we do."
Maroon5 frontman Adam Levine admitted that even his fellow band members were surprised when the group won the best new artist award. "It was very shocking," he said. "I think everyone expected Kayne [West] to win. I think I thanked him first. He deserves it as much as we do."
He added that the group has no qualms about a sophomore slump. "I don't think we're scared about the second album," he said. "We're already reached a level that was unimaginable for us."
Just like Maroon5, John Mayer, winner for song of the year with "Daughters," felt that one of his fellow nominees was just as deserving.
"I don't know why I won tonight and I hope I never autopsy it," he said. "I watched Alicia Keys perform tonight and I am so thanking for be in an era where music [like that] is being made. I'm going to screw the top half off of the Grammy and give her the base."
He added that he was opposed to Columbia releasing the song, which also won the best male pop vocal performance honor, as a single. "It's such a personal song that I felt that anyone other than me would think it's the most disingenuous piece of slop," he said.
Nancy Wilson's award for best jazz vocal album for "R.S.V.P. Rare Songs, Very Person" (MCG Jazz) is her second Grammy in 41 years. She won her first in 1964 for best rhythm & blues recording ("How Glad I Am").
"[It's] nice to win a Grammy in jazz," she said. "But the Grammy itself for me this time goes to the production. I am so proud of the production values on this album and of all the marvelous musicians who participated." Wilson plans to go back into the studio in the late summer to record a new album.
A self-deprecating Jerry Lee Lewis provided laughs backstage while answering questions about his lifetime achievement award, including why he thought it took so long for the recognition. "I kind of thought about that myself," he said, "but it's great to get it."
He then reeled off this checklist of career achievements: "Hard work, rippin', runnin', kickin' down stools, having a ball and loving up some of the most beautiful women in the world. It's just rock and roll."
Asked if he finds much time to play just for fun, he added, "I used to when I was younger. Now I just go out on the lake and fish."
Jill Scott savored the high of winning her first Grammy. The singer/songwriter lost to Shelby Lynne in the best new artist category in 2000, but said her win for best urban/alternative performance for "Cross My Mind" is no less sweeter.
"It's something I've always wanted," Scott said. "Artists who have them at home may say they don't matter, but they do. I thought I deserved to win on my first album. I wish I had played it off well but I didn't. I can't pretend: I talked about it on camera and embarrassed my publicist. But I'm so happy to win this time. I'm tingling all over; it's a dream come true."
It was a big year for Hawaiian music with the introduction of the best Hawaiian music album Grammy award, which was accorded to the compilation "Slack Key Guitar Volume 2" (Palm Records).
Album producer Charles Michael Brotman said the award represented much more than simply recognition for the effort. "There were a lot of people involved in the process [of adding the category] in Hawaii and [the Recording Academy]. Our hope is that it brings a lot of people who don't know about Hawaiian music into it. There are a lot of stereotypical images of what Hawaiian music is when it's really diverse. There is a lot of music being produced and written in Hawaii that encompasses the culture, the music, language, slack key. We hope the addition of the award brings a lot of people into the music."