From the New York Times:
|By JEFF LEEDS |
Published: February 14, 2005
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 13 - Ray Charles, the blind visionary who revolutionized American music with fusions of soul, rock, jazz and country, broke the mold once more tonight at the 47th annual Grammy Awards, posthumously dominating the telecast with wins in eight categories.
Mr. Charles's wins of eight diverse awards, including the marquee categories of best album for his final new release, "Genius Loves Company" and best record for his duet on that album with Norah Jones, reflected his easy shifts among genres. It also capped a salutation of Mr. Charles's life and music that had been under way since he died at 73 in June, first with the release of the duets CD and then the arrival of his film biography, "Ray."
"How many millions of people has he made smile?" said Norah Jones, battling tears as she accepted the trophy for best record for "Here We Go Again," the track she recorded with Mr. Charles for "Genius Loves Company."
Mr. Charles, who received a Grammy for lifetime achievement in 1987, was also the subject of a string of tributes here tonight, beginning with a duet of "Georgia on My Mind" by Jamie Foxx, who portrayed Mr. Charles in the film, and Alicia Keys. Also on tap was a tribute by Bonnie Raitt, who joined Mr. Charles for a rendition of "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" on the duets album, and the gospel singer and pianist Billy Preston.
The outpouring of votes for Mr. Charles also underscored the influence of R&B music - and the power of nostalgia - among members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which sponsors the Grammys. But as much as Mr. Charles's trophies served to honor his life, the most dramatic moment of the evening - Kanye West's performance and acceptance speech for winning best rap album - underscored life's frailty.
Mr. West, the young Chicago-bred producer and rapper, came close to dying in a car accident on this city's streets more than two years ago. "When I had my accident, I found out at that moment nothing in life is promised except death," Mr. West said. "If you have the opportunity to play this game of life, you need to appreciate every moment. A lot of people don't appreciate the moment until it's passed."
For Mr. Charles, the win for album of the year was the first such posthumous award since John Lennon won in 1982 for "Double Fantasy." The pop-rock band Maroon5 scored one of the evening's biggest upsets, winning the new-artist prize that many Grammy observers, including Maroon5's singer Adam Levine, suspected would go home with Mr. West or Gretchen Wilson. Mr. Levine began his acceptance speech saying, "Kanye West, I want to thank you so much for being unbelievable."
Loretta Lynn, whose album "Van Lear Rose" became a favorite with the rock intelligentsia for its collaborations with the rock artist Jack White of the White Stripes, took home the country album trophy, though that CD received little attention and perhaps even less airplay in Nashville.
The academy voters split up the early prizes among three young artists who had been expected to challenge Mr. Charles in some major categories: Usher, Ms. Keys and Mr. West. The award for contemporary R&B album went to Usher's "Confessions," which also ranked as 2004's best seller, racking up sales of more than 7.9 million copies. Usher and Ms. Keys won best R&B vocal performance by a duo or group for their duet on his album, "My Boo." Ms. Keys won for best female R&B vocal performance for "If I Ain't Got You." Mr. West shared a prize with her for co-writing another track on her most recent album, the song "You Don't Know My Name," and Mr. West also won a songwriting prize for co-writing a hit from his own album, the song "Jesus Walks."
But Mr. West and Ms. Keys lost out in the coveted song-of-the-year category, in which the troubadour John Mayer - an occasional collaborator with Mr. West - won for "Daughters," which Mr. Mayer resisted releasing as a single, but which became one of his biggest radio hits. He also won male pop vocal performance for his recording of that song.