By Jonathan Zipper
HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Today) 2/10/08 – The 50 year-old Grammy Awards showed their age by giving jazz artist Herbie Hancock the Album of the Year awards. And they showed their spunk with naming troubled singer Amy Winehouse the biggest overall winner of the night with five Grammys including Record and Song of the Year and Best New Artist.
The biggest surprise of the night? Herbie Hancock taking home the Album of the Year Award for “River: The Joni Letters.” The Grammy Awards, who had an pre-show event the year hosted by American Association of Retired People, have been accused in the past of bypassing some edgy relevant acts in favor old timers.
“Joni Mitchell, thank you so much,” Hancock exclaimed. “You know, it’s been 43 years since the first and only time that a Jazz artist got the album of the year award. I’d like to thank the academy for courageously breaking the mold this time, and in doing so honoring the giants on the shoulders of whom I stand.”
Hancock may have beaten the odds, but Winehouse was clearly the story of the night.
While the Grammy producers often frown upon artists transmitting their performances via satellite, they made an exception for Winehouse – a decision that made sense, in retrospect, as she swept five of the six categories in which she was nominated.
Cuba Gooding Jr. started the crowd off in London, and Winehouse took command of the microphone as only she can, with her beehive hair-do back intact. Still, there were moments where Winehouse seemed very jittery as she sang “You Know I’m No Good” which was rather ironic given her current situation.
Nevertheless, Winehouse closed out her portion of the ceremony with a touch of class: “It’s an honor to be here. Thank you very much.”
As Tony Bennett and Natalie Cole revealed “Rehab” as the Record of the Year, the satellite feed jumped to a completely stunned and elated Winehouse.
Kanye West closed out the first hour with a futuristic-themed performance of his hit “Stronger” from the Best Record of the Year nominee “Graduation.” He then followed it up with “Hey Mama” as a touching tribute to his mother, Donda, who passed away prematurely during a botched, routine cosmetic procedure.
John Legend and Fergie teamed up for a brief musical interlude before presenting the award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album, which went to Cirque du Soleil’s “LOVE.” Surviving Beatles member Ringo Starr went up to accept the award.
“A long time ago we made these records with my good friends John, Paul, and George,” said Starr. “George Martin was involved then, and now George Martin and his son Giles are involved again, and they did a great job on this music. With Cirque du Soleil it turned into a beautiful dream.”
Afterwards, Beyonce joined Tina Turner on stage for an explosive round of “Proud Mary” after Cher warmed the audience with a joke about being an artist “since Lincoln was President.”
The odd pairing of Andy Williams and Nelly Furtado honored composer Burt Bacharach for becoming a lifetime achievement award recipient before handing out the Song of the Year Award to Winehouse for “Rehab.”
This year’s “My Grammy Moment” winner, Anne Marie Calhoun, accepted her prize – a chance to perform live with the Foo Fighters, and later on diva Aretha Franklin proved she still has the pipes to bring the house down during a moving gospel act.
American Idol alum Carrie Underwood dominated in the country categories, taking home Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “Before He Cheats.” Keith Urban snagged Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “Stupid Boy,” while Vince Gill’s “These Days” won Best Country Album.
“I just got an award given to me by a Beatle. Have you had that happen yet Kanye?” joked Gill.