By Fernando Gonzalez
Music's Biggest Night began early in the afternoon with music's most diverse show — an extraordinary celebration of the many music styles and varied creative achievements of the music community.
Held at the beautiful Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, and hosted by comedian David Alan Grier, the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards Pre-Telecast Ceremony named winners in 70 categories, ranging from Gospel, Jazz and Rap to Engineering and Packaging Fields.
The list of this year's winners included familiar names – Bonnie Raitt, a beloved music veteran who received a standing ovation for her surprise win in what she called her "third bloom"; Jay-Z and Kanye West (whose "N****s In Paris" created some hilariously awkward moments of political correctness), Colombian rocker Juanes, Taylor Swift, Beach Boy Brian Wilson, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, New Orleans legend Dr. John, jazz pianist Chick Corea and guitarist Pat Metheny. But the afternoon also put a highlight on new talent such as the group Eighth Blackbird, which brought a jolt of rock energy to their contemporary chamber music performance, and adventurous jazz pianist Robert Glasper, a surprise winner for Best R&B Album.
Regardless, up and comer or veteran, as one of the winners said, the emotion of winning a GRAMMY "never gets old."
And the ceremony also brought recognition to some artists who have passed, such as Ravi Shankar (whose daughter Anoushka Shankar accepted an award for him), and arranger and composer Gil Evans (who had two nominations and won the Best Instrumental Arrangement category), and Clare Fischer (winner in the Best Latin Jazz Album).
Underscoring the diversity of the program, the Pre-Telecast featured performances by nominees such as New Age artist Krishna Das, Eighth Blackbird (which won the Best Chamber Music/Small ensemble performance), South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, and nominees John Fullbright (Best Americana Album), Tyrese (Best R&B Album) and Elle Varner (Best R&B Song).
The presenters included nominees Radmilla Cody, Kaskade, Britt Nicole, Manuel Valera and singer and songwriter Janis Ian, who when accepting the GRAMMY in the Best Spoken Word Album, had the best line of the night based on the nominees in her category: "The president's wife, an ex-president and three lesbians go into a bar … there's a joke there somewhere." As Ian observed, the GRAMMY Pre-Telecast was certainly a place for everyone.
The Pre-Telecast live stream will remain on GRAMMY.com on demand for 30 days following the event.