Ray’s swansong sweeps eight Grammys

Associated Press

Los Angeles:

On the night when all of music bands together for one genre-busting party, Ray Charles received a fitting eulogy at 47th Grammy Awards, as his final album ‘Genius Loves Company’, won a leading eight Grammys. Much like his career, the album Charles recorded in the last months of his life spans soul, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, country, jazz and blues. It won album of the year and best pop album; the song “Here We Go Again,” with Norah Jones, won record of the year and best pop collaboration with vocals.

“I’m going to cry, actually,” Jones said as she accepted the trophy for record of the year. “I think it just shows how wonderful music can be.”

Other winners included Alicia Keys and Usher, each nominated for eight Grammys. Keys won four while Usher had three. They shared one award, for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals for their chart-topping duet “My Boo”.

U2 won three awards, including best rock performance by a duo or group. Green Day, the most nominated rock act with six for their politically charged punk opera “American Idiot” won best rock album. “Rock ‘n’ roll can be dangerous and fun at the same time, so thanks a lot,” Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong said as he accepted the award.

Keys had a chance to win more than any other woman in one evening. In 2002 Keys won five Grammys for her debut album ‘Songs in A Minor’, becoming only the second woman to win that many in one night.

The most nominated artist of the year was perhaps the most multifaceted — Kanye West, the songwriter-producer who made his rap debut in 2004 with the cutting-edge CD ‘The College Dropout’. He was nominated for 10 Grammys, including album of the year, but only took home three, including best rap album and best rap song for “Jesus Walks”. He was upset in the best new artist category, losing to Maroon 5 in a race that also included country singer Gretchen Wilson, the Los Lonely Boys and soul siren Joss Stone.

Steve Earle’s left-leaning ‘The Revolution Starts ... Now’ won for contemporary folk album. And Rod Stewart — who had complained in recent years about never winning a Grammy — won for traditional pop vocal album for his standards recording ‘Stardust ... The Great American Songbook Vol III’.

The oft-maligned Britney Spears also won her first Grammy — best dance recording for “Toxic”. Spears wasn’t present, but another newlywed was on hand: Jennifer Lopez performed a duet in Spanish with new hubby Marc Anthony, their first public performance together.

Perhaps the evening’s most exhilarating performance was from Melissa Etheridge. The rocker, who is battling breast cancer, took to the stage for a Janis Joplin tribute with a shaved head but strong voice, and received a standing ovation.

Foxx, a more then decent musician, sat at a piano opposite Keys as Quincy Jones conducted the orchestra. “For an old friend,” Foxx said as he began to play.