Sunday, February 10, 2008

50th GRAMMY Awards: Recap

No wonder they call it the biggest night in music.

The show was filled with major highlights, topped with Amy Winehouse's via satellite performance and a blazing duet with pop/R&B legend Tina Turner and Beyonce', stunned its viewers with uncanny performances, moving tributes to music legends and even a few uncomfortable moments from the unpredictable Kanye West. West's moving performance of "Stronger" set to galactic, glow-in-the-dark imagery and graphics set the bar high for the night's performances, even though the Foo Fighters stole the cake with their "classical-meets-rock" outdoor performance with the GRAMMY Philharmonic Orchestra lending magical background support. But West's moving nods to his late mother gripped listeners hearts...and even became a big deal when he picked up the award for Best Rap album. The music begin to play when he was closing his speech with words of appreciation to his mother. And discomfort rung through the air: "It would be in good taste to stop the music," West said — and the music stopped.

"I know you're really proud of me right now and I know you want me to be the No. 1 artist in the world and Mama," West continued, "all I'm going to do is keep making you proud. We run this."

West's ego got the best of him at that moment, but was brought down several times throughout the program; becoming the bunt of most jokes. Usher even took a jab at the reigning rap star by saying, after announcing the nominees for Album of the Year, "See, they all are winners here, Kanye." West was also nominated in that category, but didn't win.

But the performances clearly marked the fifty year celebration of the GRAMMYs as one of the best in modern award show history. Alicia Keys tore the house down with a rousing performance of her recent hit and GRAMMY winner for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, "No One." Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli, with their immensely gifted tenor vocals, paid tribute to the late Luciano Pavarotti singing "The Prayer." The Time - united with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis - also dazzled the audience with their Prince-styled rendition of "Jungle Love" - reminding us of the good times of the '80s. A serious footnote of the evening was Tina Turner's big duet with Beyonce' running through "What's Love Got To Do With It" and "Proud Mary" (surely an ode to the late Ike Turner). John Fogerty also hit the stage with a rock-and-roll tribute that also featured living legends Little Richard (ultimately proving he's still got it) and Jerry Lee Lewis both running through songs like "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "Great Balls of Fire." And the remarkable and mind-blowing merges of classical icon Itzhak Perlman, Lang Lang and Herbie Hancock gave a performance of a lifetime on George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue"; ultimately sending the audience up on their feet at the end.

And in GRAMMY tradition, the night couldn't end without an inspirational revival fired up with the spark and charisma of gospel music. This year's appearances featured the GRAMMY MusiCares recipient Aretha Franklin and BeBe Winans singing together on "Never Gonna Break My Faith" (which also picked up an award this year from the Bobby movie soundtrack) and later evolved around big-sounding brass and funk from the Clark Sisters on "You Brought The Sunshine." Trin-i-tee 5:7 peeked out for a second and then Israel & New Breed makes their grand entrance with their hit "With Long Life"; capturing the magic of the big Santana performance a couple of years back. The Queen of Soul returns with the full crew to close the medley with the legendary "Old Landmark" - sending the entire audience into a Holy Ghost frenzy.

While Amy Winehouse received four awards, she didn't win for Best Album. Herbie Hancock, surprisingly, won the coveted award for his amazing project River: The Joni Letters. "You know it's been 43 years since the first and only time that a jazz artist got the album of the year award," Hancock said, then proceeded to honor "the giants upon whose shoulders I stand, some of whom like Miles Davis, John Coltrane ... unquestionably deserved the award in the past. But this is a new day, that proves that the impossible can be made possible." The entire audience rose to their feet to acknowledge the Academy's choice and realized that this was a moment that surely made history - giving that the album was up against big albums from Foo Fighters, Vince Gill, Amy Winehouse and Kanye West.

Chaka Khan also was a big winner for her deliciously-styled funk/R&B record Funk This - taking home victories for Best R&B Performance By A Duo or Group (Disrespectful) and Best R&B Album.

The Clark Sisters, whom entered into this year's race with three nominations in all - took home all three awards for Best Traditional Gospel Album and Best Gospel Performance. An amazing tie between Aretha Franklin and the Clark Sisters was called for their singles - "Never Gonna Break My Faith" and "Blessed and Highly Favored." Their last project may have been called "Live - One Last Time," but after these victories , these gospel legends might have to go a couple more rounds.

For more details on the 50th GRAMMY Awards, visit their website at

Selected photos from the GRAMMYs have been posted - for your viewing pleasure.

Golden Grams (

No comments: