Kacey Musgraves And Childish Gambino Win Top Awards At Grammys

Feb 11, 2019
Originally published on February 11, 2019 10:39 pm
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Grammy Awards ceremony featured two kinds of suspense. One, of course, was suspense to see who would win. And now we know the country singer Kacey Musgraves won album of the year. Childish Gambino became the first hip-hop artist to win record and song of the year. The other kind of suspense was to see who would show up. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: "This Is America" earned Donald Glover, a.k.a. Childish Gambino, three Grammys in addition to song of the year.

(SOUNDBITE OF 61ST ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS)

JOHN MAYER: Childish Gambino could not be here tonight, but we accept this award in his honor.

ALICIA KEYS: Childish.

DEL BARCO: Singers John Mayer and Alicia Keys accepted the award, but Glover actually declined to attend the ceremony. And one of the artists featured on "This Is America," 21 Savage, couldn't be there because the British-born rapper is fighting deportation from the U.S. Winners Kendrick Lamar and Ariana Grande also declined to attend, and Drake was reported to be a no-show as well. So it was a real surprise when he walked on stage to accept his award for best rap song, "God's Plan."

(SOUNDBITE OF 61ST ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS)

DRAKE: I definitely did not think I was winning anything. My brother's here. I want to take this opportunity while I'm up here to just talk to all the kids that are watching this that are aspiring to do music.

DEL BARCO: Drake began by talking about being a mixed-race kid from Canada misunderstood by the music business. And as he held up his trophy, he said this.

(SOUNDBITE OF 61ST ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS)

DRAKE: Look, if there's people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don't need this right here. I promise you. You already won.

(APPLAUSE)

DRAKE: But...

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Next, a special Grammy performance by...

DEL BARCO: Drake was cut off before he finished. Later, a spokesperson from the show told reporters backstage that producers thought Drake was finished talking and offered him a chance to finish, but he declined. Another winner, Dua Lipa, was similarly cut off. She won for best new artist and started her speech this way.

(SOUNDBITE OF 61ST ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS)

DUA LIPA: I guess where I want to begin is by saying how honored I am to be nominated alongside so many incredible female artists this year because I guess this year we've really stepped up.

DEL BARCO: Her jab referred to a comment Recording Academy president Neil Portnow made after last year's Grammy Awards. He said women should, quote, "step up," unquote, if they wanted to be more visible in the music industry. As Portnow announced, this is his final year at the academy. He addressed that controversial remark by saying the Grammys and the industry must include more female voices.

(SOUNDBITE OF 61ST ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS)

NEIL PORTNOW: This past year I've been reminded that if coming face to face with an issue opens your eyes wide enough, it makes you more committed than ever to help address those issues.

DEL BARCO: So host Alicia Keys started out the evening by inviting on stage four other powerful women to talk about what music means to them.

(SOUNDBITE OF 61ST ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS)

KEYS: Please, can I bring some of my sisters out here tonight?

DEL BARCO: They were singers Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, actress Jada Pinkett Smith and former first lady Michelle Obama.

(SOUNDBITE OF 61ST ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS)

MICHELLE OBAMA: From the Motown Records I wore out on the South Side to the "Who Run The World" songs that fueled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story.

DEL BARCO: Alicia Keys reiterated the reference to superstar Beyonce's female empowerment cry.

(SOUNDBITE OF 61ST ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS)

KEYS: Who runs the world?

DEL BARCO: The telecast was dominated by women performers, from Dolly Parton to Lady Gaga - who won a Grammy for the song she co-wrote for the movie "A Star Is Born" - Diana Ross, Cardi B and Janelle Monae.

(SOUNDBITE OF 61ST ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS)

JANELLE MONAE: (Singing) ...Baby. Let the vagina have a monologue.

DEL BARCO: Brandi Carlile brought the audience to its feet when she sang "The Joke," which won two Grammys. Carlile won a third for the album it's on. And backstage, she told reporters how significant it was to have so many women at the Grammys this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRANDI CARLILE: It's huge to me. I mean, I'm a kid from the '90s from Lilith Fair, you know. And those women were just dominating those platforms. They were getting record deals. They were becoming record executives themselves. And to watch that backslide for the last 20 years has been heartbreaking.

DEL BARCO: But Carlile added this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARLILE: Tonight gives me hope as a mother of two young daughters.

DEL BARCO: Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.