It was a night fit for a Hip-Hop soul queen as Mary J. Blige collected three trophies Sunday (Feb. 11) during the 49th Annual Grammy Awards.
The singer, who garnered eight nominations and brought the house down with an emotional performance of “Be Without You”, won the Grammy for Best R&B Album for the The Breakthrough as well as Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance.
“For so many years I’ve been talked about negatively and this time I am being talked about positively by so many people,” said Blige, who later vowed to use her success to “build bridges, not to burn them.”
T.I. took home two Grammys for Best Rap Solo Performance for “What You Know” and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “My Love” with Justin Timberlake.
Gnarls Barkley scored two Grammy awards for Best Urban/Alternative Performance and Alternative Music Album, while Chamillionnaire won for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
Backed by Blige and Earth, Wind and Fire, Ludacris performed “Runaway Love” moments after sending a special shout out to Bill O’Reily and Oprah Winfrey upon accepting the Grammy for Best Rap Album for Release Therapy.
The performance was among a string of memorable renditions which included “Listen” from Beyonce and “What Goes Around…Comes Back Around” by a piano playing Timberlake.
The past and the present met during a tribute to R&B music featuring Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie, Chris Brown and Christina Aguilera.
While Robinson sang “Tracks of My Tears” and Richie performed “Hello,” Brown thrilled the audience with his crew of steppers/dancers for “Run It.”
Aguilera closed the set with a powerful rendition of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World.
The pop diva’s homage was the second acknowledgment of the late soul legend as he was recognized during the Grammy’s annual remembrance of performers and music industry professionals who died last year.
In honor of Brown, a cape was draped over a microphone stand at the end of the remembrance.
The action was done at the finale of Brown’s concerts, in which the singer was covered in a cape after dropping to his knees at the end of a song, only to rise up and continue performing.
Brown’s fellow Grammy nominee Corinne Bailey Rae received assistance from John Mayer and John Legend as she sung “Like A Star.”
The trio continued their collaboration by joining forces for songs by Legend and Mayer.
Other Grammy winners included Stevie Wonder, who took home Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for his duet with Tony Bennett, “For Once in My Life”; Ike Turner, who won traditional blues album for Risin’ with the Blues and Rick Rubin, a first-time Grammy winner for producer of the year, non-classical division.
Beyoncé’s B’Day also won for Best Contemporary R&B Album, while Legend received the award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for “Heaven,” and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals for “Family Affair” with Joss Stone and Van Hunt.
The night also proved to be an event for Robin Troup, who won the My Grammy Moment contest.
The 18-year-old Houston, Texas resident took the stage to perform “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “My Love” with Timberlake and T.I.