Despite an upset by jazz artist Herbie Hancock, rapper/producer Kanye West and embattled soul diva Amy Winehouse emerged as the big winners at this years Grammy Awards.
West took home four of the eight Grammy awards he was up for, including Best Rap Album for Graduation, Best Rap Solo Performance for “Stronger,” Best Rap Song for “Good Life” with T-Pain and Best Rap Performance by a duo or group for “Southside,” a collaboration with fellow Chicago rapper Common.
“I appreciate all the support. I appreciate all the prayers,” said the rapper, who recognized everyone who thought of him following the death of his mother, Donda West.
“I appreciate everything. I know youre proud of me,” West added while continuing to speak on his mother as music played for him to wrap up his speech. “Mama all Im gonna do is keep making you proud. We run this.”
Winehouse, who was nominated for six Grammys, proved to be a force in her own right as she nabbed five awards for her hit song “Rehab” and critical and commercial darling Back to Black.
The singer, who was noticeably surprised while being honored for Record of the Year, was showered with hugs from her parents and back up singers.
Winehouse capped off the more than three and a half-hour ceremony with a sassy and high-spirited performance via satellite of “You Know Im No Good” and “Rehab.”
During her record of the year acceptance speech, the troubled singer thanked her record label while stating the award was for “my mom and dad” as well as for her husband Blake Fielder-Civil, “my Blake incarcerated, and for London!”
Fielder-Civil is currently serving time in jail while awaiting trial on assault and trial-fixing charges.
Other winners included: Lupe Fiasco featuring Jill Scott (Urban/Alternative Performance: “Daydreamin’,”) the Beastie Boys (Pop Instrumental Album: The Mix-Up), Justin Timberlake (Dance Recording: “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows,” and Male Pop Vocal Performance: “What Goes Around…Comes Around,” ), Chaka Khan and others.
R&B songbird Alicia Keys, who won earned a Grammy for best R&B song and best female R&B vocal performance for “No One,” started the show off in grand fashion as she performed a duet of “Learnin the Blues with a video image of Frank Sinatra .
Unique pairings continued throughout the show as Beyonce hit the stage with her idol Tina Turner for a rendition of Turners classic “Proud Mary.”
Rihanna and The Time joined forces on the singers medley of “Umbrella and “Please Dont Stop the Music” as well as the reunited funk bands their 80s hit “Jungle Love.”
Rihanna also came up big as she won the best rap/sung collaboration Grammy for “Umbrella.”
In addition, Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin led the way with a gospel showcase featuring BeBe Winans, the Madison Bumblebees, the Clark Sisters and Trin-i-tee 5:7.
But it was Hancock, who pulled the biggest surprise of the night as he beat out Graduation, Back to Black, Vince Gill’s These Days and the Foo Fighters’ Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace to garner the Album of the Year Award for River: The Joni Letters.
“Joni Mitchell. Thank you so much,” said the pianist as he acknowledged the artists whos worked is covered in the jazz album and thanked the recording academy for “courageously breaking the mold” for awarding Album of the Year to jazz artist.
“This is a new day that proves the impossible can be made possible. Yes we can, to coin a phrase,” Hancock said.