With all the star power at the BET Awards — Kanye West, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Samuel L. Jackson, to name a few — the most stirring moment came not from a superstar, but from the mother of one.
Whitney Houston's mother, Cissy, provided the emotional highlight of Sunday's ceremony as she sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in tribute to her late daughter, leaving audience members like Beyonce and Soulja Boy in tears.
Mariah Carey opened the tribute, and her voice wavered as she told stories about Houston. She recalled the last time she saw Houston last year, and how the two laughed and gossiped together.
"I miss my friend," Carey said. "I miss hearing her voice and laughter."
R&B singer Monica was vocally top-notch as she sang "I Love the Lord," a gospel song once sang by Houston; Brandy sang two upbeat Houston hits, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and "I'm Your Baby Tonight." Chaka Khan blazed the stage with "I'm Every Woman," which Houston remade. Gary Houston, Whitney's brother, also performed; and Houston's "Waiting to Exhale" castmates — Angela Bassett, Lela Rochon and Loretta Devine — also honored the singer.
But it was Cissy Houston's soaring performance that brought the audience to their feet, and had many dabbing their eyes. The tribute came five months after Houston's death: She died the night before the Grammy Awards of an accidental drowning complicated by heart disease and cocaine use.
As compelling as that moment was, the show was also defined by its low points: Entire segments of performances, from Nicki Minaj to Rick Ross, were muted out due to foul language and obscenities, though several vulgarities were heard on air.
It started during the opening number by West's G.O.O.D. music group, which included Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz. There were long moments of censored silence when the rappers performed "Mercy," though not all the offending words were bleeped out. Moments later, Jackson, the show's host, was joined by Spike Lee as they did a comedic version of Jay-Z and West's hit song "... In Paris," to laughs.
"Two distinguished Morehouse men," Lee joked after the performance, referencing the alma mater of the two.
The censor police also worked overtime when Rick Ross performed with his Maybach Music Group and during Minaj's performance and acceptance speech for best female hip-hop artist. Minaj's win was her third consecutive time taking the prize.
"I really, really appreciate BET for keeping this category alive, and I appreciate all the female rappers doing their thing, past, present and future," she said, before uttering an obscenity.
Best gospel winner Yolanda Adams, who also performed, gently took some of her peers to task, urging them to act mature and use their fame wisely.
"We need all of y'all," she said onstage. "I'm saying the world needs everyone in this room. Please make sure that you use your gift responsibly, 'cause we're watching. Our babies are watching, and they want to be like us."
West, the most nominated act of the night with seven, and Jay-Z won the ceremony's top prize, earning video of the year for "Otis." They also won best group.
Beyonce was the second most nominated act with six. She won video director of the year (along with Alan Ferguson) and best female R&B artist and thanked the genre and her female influences.
"I fell in love with music by listening to R&B. It's the core of who I am," she said, giving special thanks to Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige and "Whitney Houston, my angel."
When she lost video of the year to Jay-Z and West, she playfully hit her husband and laughed. The joking continued: Moments later, as West was giving his acceptance speech, Jay-Z interrupted him and said: "Excuse me Kanye, I'm gonna let you continue, but ...," and the audience erupted with laughter, recalling West's infamous interruption of Taylor Swift's MTV Video Music Awards speech a few years back.
Chris Brown was also a double winner, picking up his second consecutive win for best male R&B artist, and the "Fandemonium" award for a third time.
Brown also performed in his first televised appearance since the New York City nightclub brawl between his entourage and Drake's. Brown, his girlfriend, his bodyguard and NBA star Tony Parker were among those injured in the June 14 encounter, where bottles were thrown.
Drake didn't show, though he was named best male hip-hop artist.
The tone of night fluctuated frequently, as the show shifted from hotly anticipated performances to solemn moments to irreverence. Usher performed his groove "Climax," and Minaj sported a blond wig with pink tips as she performed the songs "Champion" and "Beez in the Trap," which featured 2 Chainz.
D'Angelo returned to the television spotlight with his first performance in years as he attempts a comeback.
The night also featured some tributes to deceased greats: Chante Moore performed a medley of Donna Summer's hits and Valerie Simpson sang a song in honor of her husband and writing partner Nick Ashford. Don Cornelius, Dick Clark and Hal Jackson were remembered. Even West offered tributes: after his performance, he name-dropped Rodney King and Whitney Houston in a verse that got cheers from the crowd, including his girlfriend, Kim Kardashian.
Presenters included Taraji P. Henson, Tyler Perry, Kerry Washington and Jamie Foxx, who wore a T-shirt that had a picture of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.
Frankie Beverly featuring Maze were honored with the lifetime achievement award, and they were serenaded with performances by Tyrese, Faith Evans and Joe. The Rev. Al Sharpton received the humanitarian award, and urged the crowd to vote this November.
"This election is not just about Obama, this is about your momma," he said.
Whether she’s stealing the show at the Welcome America! celebration on the Parkway or spreading a positive vibe at Penn’s Landing’s Global Fusion, sassy soul singer Estelle has become a Philadelphia favorite. Now the leggy London native brings her earthy energy to World Café Live, for one show only, Monday, March 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the concert previously scheduled for Feb. 28 will be honored.
Now living in Brooklyn, Estelle Swaray will be performing material from her new CD titled “All of Me,” released on John Legend’s Homeschool Records label, distributed by Atlantic Records.
“In 2003, I met John,” Estelle said during a recent interview. “He was so cool. He was such a nice guy, and he really loved and respected the fact that I worked hard at the music. I wasn’t trying to be a groupie or anything. And he believed in me.”
While she may not possess the raw vocal power of Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle or her contemporary, Jennifer Hudson, Estelle is blessed with a voice of many colors. The bouncy bravado of “American Boy,” for which she won the 2008 Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration” with Kanye West, gives way to the palpable pain of heartbreak in her latest single, “Thank You,” written by Akon.
“Akon was in the studio and sat down and wrote this song in like the last 10 minutes of the session,” Estelle explained. “I woke up the next morning and I was like, ‘Give me that, please!’ It felt right. It felt real.”
“All of Me,” now available in stores and at online music outlets, also includes “Break My Heart,” featuring the rugged, robust Rick Ross, as well as “International (Serious)” featuring Chris Brown and Trey Songz, and Estelle looks forward to presenting her new music to her faithful Philadelphia audience. “Philly takes a minute to listen to you and get involved if they really like you,” she said.
Philly’s adoration for Estelle was evident when she was invited by The Roots to perform at last summer’s highly anticipated Welcome America! concert on the Fourth of July. “I remember working with them over 12 years ago in the U.K., so I’ve been friends with them a long time. They’re real cool,” she said of ?uestlove & Company. “They’re great musicians and producers in their own right. I feel blessed and honored to know them.”
Though blessed with the sleek look of a high fashion model, Estelle has no immediate interest in stomping the runway. “I’m more interested in acting and animation voiceover work,” she said.
For now, music is her top priority, and as she anticipates her next appearance in the City of Brotherly Love, Estelle, who performs with live musicians, said in conclusion, “We always have fun! We always have a party! If you’ve ever been to one of my shows, you’re not leaving not singing along. So come to have fun! Don’t come there staring at me, ‘cause I won’t be stared at! That won’t happen! This is going to be the best show you’ve been to this year!”
For tickets ($25.00 plus processing fees) call (215) 222-1400 or visit www.worldcafelive.com. World Café Live is located at 3025 Walnut St.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A kid for Kimye: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are expecting their first child.
The rapper announced at a concert Sunday night that his girlfriend is pregnant. Kardashian was in the crowd at Revel Resort's Ovation Hall with her mother, Kris Jenner, and West's mentor and best friend, Jay-Z. West told the crowd of more than 5,000 in song form: "Now you having my baby."
The crowd roared. And so did people on the Internet.
The news instantly went viral on Twitter and Facebook, with thousands posting and commenting on the expecting couple.
Most of the Kardashian clan also tweeted about the news, including Kim's sisters. Kourtney Kardashian wrote: "Another angel to welcome to our family. Overwhelmed with excitement!"
West, 35, also told concertgoers to congratulate his "baby mom" and that this was the "most amazing thing."
Representatives for West and Kardashian, 32, didn't immediately respond to emails about the pregnancy.
The rapper and reality TV star went public in March.
Kardashian married NBA player Kris Humphries in August 2011 and their divorce is not finalized.
West's Sunday-night show was his third consecutive performance at Revel. He took the stage for nearly two hours, performing hits like "Good Life," ''Jesus Walks" and "Clique" in an all-white ensemble with two bandmates. -- (AP)
NEW YORK — Since its beginnings in the 1970s, rap music has transformed from an underground, street-based sound to a definitive part of pop culture, transcending race and becoming one of the strongest — and most prolific — voices of today’s generation. But at the Grammy Awards, rap has had a long-lasting losing streak in the top categories.
The hip-hop sound — first recognized at the 1989 Grammys — has garnered numerous prestigious nominations over the years, and for 10 of the last 14 years, rap acts have either led or tied for most Grammy nominations. But rarely will a hip-hop act win one of the show’s top four honors — album, song and record of the year, along with best new artist. Instead, rap acts tend to win rap awards.
50 Cent, who won his first and only Grammy two years ago, believes Grammy voters are out-of-touch and need a fresh outlook on what’s going on in contemporary music.
“I think that the board is a lot older and they’re conservative, so some of the content in the music is offensive on some level,” said 50 Cent, who famously interrupted Evanescence’s best new artist speech by walking onstage when he lost to the rock group in 2004. “There’s a lot of people that don’t accept that hip-hop culture is now pop culture.”
This year, hip-hop leads the Grammys in nominations again, with Kanye West earning seven; it’s his third year as the show’s top-nominated act, and his fourth overall (he tied Mariah Carey and John Legend for most nominations at the 2006 Grammys). While his song “All of the Lights” is up for song of the year, his critically revered fifth album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” didn’t score an album of the year nomination, a shock to many. Even Jimmy Jam — the chair emeritus of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences — was surprised by West’s snub.
“I think he’s one of the genius artists, and I’m saying this as a person who’s worked with Michael Jackson and Prince, so I don’t throw that word around lightly,” Jam said. “So, yes, I was surprised.”
West’s album with Jay-Z, “Watch the Throne,” was also left out of the top album category; both CDs are nominated for best rap album.
Jay-Z, who once boycotted the Grammys because of the show’s lack of love for hip-hop, says Grammy nominations are “cool,” but he doesn’t use the accolades as a barometer of his success.
“The Grammys and all of those other things, they’re fine and it’s a good way for everyone to get together amongst their peers and collect some trophies at the end of the night, but my whole thing is for the people, as long as the people accept it — that’s my real Grammy,” Jay-Z said. “As long as it connects with an audience in a way.”
But Steve Stoute, the former record executive who accused the Grammys of being irrelevant last year in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times after Eminem and Justin Bieber lost top awards, says there is a bigger problem. Stoute believes the Recording Academy doesn’t have board members who understand hip-hop as a true art form.
“If (The Recording Academy) understood that, then (rappers) would be scoring technical points,” he said. “They don’t get the technical points.”
In Grammy history, 14 hip-hop albums have received nominations for album of the year. Lauryn Hill has the distinction of being the first hip-hop artist to win album of the year for “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” in 1999, but the album, while featuring rap, was heavy on R&B. Hill also won best new artist that year, the second time a rap-based act had done so following Arrested Development’s win in 1993. A rapper hasn’t won the award since.
OutKast, the alternative, genre-bending hip-hop duo, followed in Hill’s footsteps with an album of the year win in 2004 for the double disc “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” It, too, was not strictly hip-hop, as Andre 3000 blended rock and even jazz for his half of the project.
But while there have been high-profile wins, what stands out more are the losses. No rapper has ever won record or song of the year, and both Eminem and West, each nominated three times, have failed to win the album of the year trophy in years where they appeared to be critical favorites.
At last year’s Grammys, three of the five songs nominated for record of the year were rap smashes. Lady Antebellum’s crossover hit, “Need You Now,” ended up taking away the record and song of the year honors.
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the leader and drummer of the Roots, says the hip-hop community shares some of the blame for its losing streak. He says those in the genre aren’t involved enough with The Recording Academy, its community and its events.
“We’re not active members of (The Recording Academy) and I promise to take a more active role in that,” said Questlove, who has won three Grammys. “I should definitely come and be more involved in that. It’s taxing time-wise, but you know, I can either sit and complain ... or do something about it.”
Jam says rap’s losses are also a reflection of the Grammy membership, which he said is “traditionally very heavy” with members of the country, jazz and classical music worlds.
“We’re a membership organization and the members vote. So, if the numbers of members who consider themselves of the hip-hop genre ... if those numbers are lower, then the results probably point to that fact,” Jam said.
But Stoute, who is the author of “The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy,” had harsh words for Jam, a founding member of funk-soul band The Time and best known for producing multiple hits for Janet Jackson, Usher, Boyz II Men and more with partner Terry Lewis. Stoute and Jam had a conversation after last year’s awards, and Stoute was upset that Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” wasn’t up for song of the year: At the Grammys, a track is not eligible for that award if it contains a sample or if it’s not an original piece of work; that disqualifies much of rap, which relies heavily on sampling (“Empire State of Mind” samples The Moments’ “Love on a Two-Way Street”).
Stoute said Jam should be helping hip-hop, and blasted the renowned producer.
“What he’s doing is not right,” Stoute said of Jam. “And if he’s supposed to be the guy who understands urban music because of his famed career as a producer ... (and) if he’s not going to be sensitive to the creativity around hip-hop, I am sorry, we’re in trouble.”
Jam, who was the Recording Academy’s chairman from 2005 to 2009, says his goal was to diversify the Grammy community, and if people have an issue with traditional Grammy rules, they should demand a change.
“You can write a proposal,” Jam said. “I hope ... people step up to the challenge rather than dismiss it, which is the easy thing to do.’“
Jam also said he helped bring forth the best rap song award at the 2004 Grammys, which honors rap tracks that contain samples. Jam also implemented a new rule in 2009 that allowed anyone nominated for a Grammy to bypass the regular application process and automatically be made a member for a year. He said he did it so that nominated acts would easily be involved in the organization the following year.
“If hip-hop is the most nominated, then they should be the best represented according to what I did,” Jam said. — (AP)
NEW YORK — Chris Brown is known as a pop singer, a slick bedroom crooner and at other times, a Euro-flavored dance singer. But it’s his rapping that has taken his career to new heights.
With his hit single “Look at Me Now,” Brown has dominated more than just the R&B territory: The boastful track, which co-stars Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, was Billboard’s No. 1 rap song of 2011, and it’s nominated for best rap song and best rap performance at Sunday’s Grammy Awards, where Brown’s competition includes Jay-Z, Kanye West, Dr. Dre and Eminem.
The song is just another example of Brown’s rapping prowess. At last year’s BET Hip-Hop Awards, Brown went toe-to-toe with other hip-hop acts during one segment, and was so strong he left 50 Cent wowed.
“Chris particularly was impressive,” said 50 Cent. “He rapped better than the rappers. I’m going to give it up. I’m watching the show (like), ‘How did they let that happen?’”
50 Cent is not the only member of the hip-hop community impressed by Brown: “(Chris) did a mixtape that really blew my mind, and I didn’t know that was him rhyming,” said Questlove of The Roots.
But Brown isn’t the only singer who has ventured out to rhyming: Usher rapped on his 1998 hit “My Way” and Trey Songz has released rap mixtapes. Others who have spit a few bars in song include Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo, Monica, Erykah Badu, R. Kelly, Janelle Monae, Jill Scott, Tyrese, Chrisette Michele and Miguel.
English-based R&B singer Marsha Ambrosius said her first-ever single featured her rapping under the name Ms. Parker, and Brandy — as her alter-ego Bran’ Nu — rapped on two songs from Timbaland’s “Shock Value II” album, and even had plans to release a rap album before she scrapped the project.
Mary J. Blige also has a rap alter-ego: Brook Lynn. Brook Lynn first appeared on Blige’s 2005 album “The Breakthrough.” Blige says she’s not sure other singers will find success as rappers, though.
“I don’t know if it will translate to what a real hip-hop artist would do like 50 (Cent) or Jay-Z or Common or Kanye,” Blige said.
But rappers have had luck with singing over the years, from Nelly to Ja Rule. West used the Auto-Tune on most of his “808s & Heartbreak” album, to mixed critical and commercial success. And Nicki Minaj’s latest hit — the David Guetta song “Turn Me On” — features the animated rapper belting semi-high notes.
There are also acts like Lauryn Hill, Drake and Missy Elliott — arguably the most respected singer-rappers in the game — who are often praised for blending the two.
“I think you have to come out as a hybrid,” said rapper J. Cole, who sings his own hook on the song “Work Out.”
“(With) Drake, some people look at him as a rapper who sings, some people look at him as a singer who raps, but he came out that way so nobody’s really right or wrong, and he can win forever in either world,” Cole continued.
Brown’s “Look at Me Now” spent eight and 10 weeks at the top spot on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop and Rap songs charts, respectively. Mark Pitts, the president of urban music at RCA Music Group who signed Brown to Sony at age 16, said he initially didn’t want to see the singer rapping.
“It took me a minute to really appreciate (‘Look at Me Now’). I didn’t want to like it because I didn’t want him rapping,” Pitts said.
Rapping is a departure for 22-year-old Brown, who debuted on the scene in 2005 as an R&B-pop heartthrob. Pitts said that past Brown songs where a rapper is featured most likely had a rap verse from Brown first, but they were never used. Pitts, who has overseen the careers of the Notorious B.I.G., Diddy and Usher, says he once thought singers and rappers should stay in their own lanes.
But Brown helped change his perception.
“It’s a different age now,” Pitts said. “I’m not surprised by anything from (Chris) anymore. He’s not in one category. It works for him, and not everybody can do that.”
Brown’s CD where “Look at Me Now” appears — “F.A.M.E. (Forgiving All My Enemies)” — is nominated for best R&B album at the Grammys; his upcoming fifth disc, “Fortune,” will most likely feature rapping, Pitts said. Brown has received respect from the rap community, and often appears on hip-hop tracks. But not all singers are poised to have a similar triumph.
“It’s definitely difficult for an R&B singer to be accepted as a hip-hop rapper, but I know it’s possible,” Common said. “If you do it well, it will be accepted.”
50 Cent agrees, adding that musicians are often typecast.
“In music there becomes a cut-out of what they’ll accept from you and what they won’t,” he said. “We can take a hit Drake song and I’ll deliver it, and people will be like, ‘Man, get this (expletive) out of here.’ They’ll be like, ‘We want the old 50 (Cent).’”
But Pitts says he’s encouraging his newer singing acts to rap.
“It doesn’t really bother me (any) more. It used to bother me. But why fight it? If it sounds good, it sounds good,” he said. “As long as you’re not trying to be someone else, I’m cool with it.” — (AP)
His journey toward understanding — expressed in his music and now in his roles in film and television — is rooted in his relationship with his mother, Mahalia Ann Hines.
When Common entered the scene in 1992 with his album, “Can I Borrow a Dollar?,” the new, mostly underground artist found himself thrust into a music environment where game-changing albums such as Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic,” Ice Cube’s “The Predator” and Eric B. & Rakim’s “Don’t Sweat The Technique” blazed trails in hip hop.
It would have been easy for Common to disappear into the history books of hip-hop like may other artists of that time (and he admits that he almost quit rapping after his debut).
After all, the competition was stiff.
Yet, Common still stands today, not only as an accomplished and award-winning recording artist, but also as a leading man who has also co-starred alongside thespians as Denzel Washington (“American Gangster”), Queen Latifah (“Just Wright”), Christian Bale (“Terminator Salvation”), Ray Liotta (“Smokin’ Aces”), Steve Carrell, Tina Fey and Mark Wahlburg (“Date Night”).
Despite his vast accomplishments as an artist, however, very little is known about the man. The gripping and introspective memoir “One Day It’ll All Make Sense (Atria, $15)” reveals the story behind the man and his art. Common shares never-before-told stories about his encounters with everyone from Tupac to Biggie, Ice Cube to Lauryn Hill, Barack Obama to Nelson Mandela.
Drawing upon his own lyrics for inspiration, he invites the reader to go behind the spotlight to see him as he really is — not just as Common, but as Lonnie Rashid Lynn.
The artist holds nothing back as he unveils himself, layer by layer, from his childhood on the streets of the South Side of Chicago; to grappling with the decision to leave college, disappointing his mother and pursuing a career in hip hop; to emerging as a talented recording artist faced with all the trappings of fame and success but working hard to remain true to himself and the people who’d supported him along the way.
“People who know me as Common might find it hard to believe some of the things that made me Rashid,” explains Common. “That’s partly why I’ve written this book, so that I can show myself as a man in full. That means telling some tough truths, revealing my faults and vulnerabilities. But it also means showing the true strength of my character.”
He recounts his rise to stardom, giving a behind-the-scenes look into the recording studios, concerts, movie sets, and after-parties of a hip-hop celebrity and movie star. He reflects on his controversial invitation to perform at the White House, a story that grabbed international headlines. And he talks about the challenges of balancing fame, love and fatherhood.
Each chapter begins with a letter from Common addressed to an important person in his life — from his daughter to his close friend and collaborator Kanye West and even from his former love, Erykah Badu. Through it all, Common emerges as a man in full: Rapper. Actor. Activist. But also father, son and friend.
“As Common, I’ve often been classified as a conscious artist,” he reflects. “I take that as a compliment. The only problem with being labeled a conscious artist is that people assume that's all you are, that you’re not also a complex and flawed individual. I made a conscious decision early in my career to focus on growth and positivity. In my own life, I still deal with the negativity sometimes, but I don’t choose to reflect that in the art I put out into the world. I strive to be a conscious artist because I strive to be a balanced human being on my path towards the light.”
Common’s story offers a living example of how, no matter what you’ve gone through, one day it’ll all make sense.
It was Adele's year, and when the Grammy Awards are revealed next February, it very well may be her night.
But on Wednesday night, the British songstress shared in the Grammy nominations glory. While she was nominated for six trophies, including album of the year for "21" and record and song of the year for her bitter groove "Rolling in the Deep," Bruno Mars and the Foo Fighters also received six each, and it was Kanye West who was the night's top leader, with seven nominations.
West was nominated for song of the year for his all-star anthem "All of the Lights," which featured everyone from Rihanna to Elton John. But even though the album from which it came, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," heralded an epic album by critics when it was released last year, it was not featured in the best album category (so far, no obligatory West rant has surfaced in response).
Bon Iver, the folky indie rock act that was a key part of "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" and received a popularity boost from its association with Kanye, was one of the night's big winners, receiving four nominations, including for best artist, and song and record of the year for "Holocene." And last year's critical darlings, Mumford & Sons, were once again nominated, receiving among their bids for song and record of the year for "The Cave."
Other multiple nominees were Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Radiohead, and dubstep artist Skrillex, who landed a bid for best new artist among his surprising five nominations.
Among the evening's biggest eye-openers were the artists not mentioned in certain categories. Taylor Swift, who won best album in 2010 for "Fearless" and was considered to be a key favorite for her multiplatinum "Speak Now," only got her three nominations in the country fields, and Tony Bennett, who had a feel-good story as his "Duets II" album made him the oldest act to debut an album at No. 1 at age 85, was not nominated for album of the year, as some critics had predicted.
West's joint album with Jay-Z, "Watch the Throne," was also ignored for best album.
Mars, who like Adele was nominated in all the top three categories — record, album and song of the year — was estatic about his night. He was nominated for song and record of the year for "Grenade," album for "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," and best pop solo performance, among other bids.
"It feels incredible. Me and these guys, we locked ourselves in the studio not too far from here and worked on this album, especially 'Grenade.' That's the song we worked the hardest on. That's like our trophy right there. Of all the songs we've been fortunate enough to be a part of this year, we were most proud of that one," Mars said after the nominations, some of which were announced in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theatre as part of the Recording Academy's hour-long concert nominations special.
Mars, who was part of the CBS special, along with Rihanna, Lady Gaga, The Band Perry and others, also got key nominations last year. But he said of awards: "I'm trying to get used to it. It's hard for me, because Adele is incredible. Kanye West is incredible. All these people are just incredible and they all offer something different, so the fact that this album got recognized and is being categorized alongside these acts, that's the craziest part, because I'm a fan of all of this music."
The academy seemed to be fans of a wide variety of music as well. They top categories honored rap, pop, indie music, folk and dance.
Adele's "21" is the year's top-selling album with more than 4.5 million albums sold, and the singer-songwriter's mournful post-breakup album produced smash hits like the torch ballad "Someone Like You." Besides "21," the best album candidates inclduded Lady Gaga; Gaga garnered her third straight nod in the category for "Born This Way," while veteran rockers the Foo Fighters were nominated for "Wasting Light," along with Mars' debut album, and Rihanna's steamy dance album "Loud."
For record of the year, besides Bon Iver, Adele, Mars and Mumford & Sons, Katy Perry's inspirational anthem "Firework" got a nod. The category looked virtually the same for song of the year, with "Firework" being replaced by West's "All of the Lights."
Unlike the past two years, which saw Swift and fellow country act Lady Antebellum soar in the general categories, the only country act that got a mainstream nomination was the country sibling act The Band Perry. Best known for their poignant ballad "If I Die Young," they got a nomination for best new artist. Their competition also includes Bon Iver, Jay-Z rap protégé J. Cole, Skrillex and rapper-singer Minaj.
"It's been an amazing evening," said lead singer Kimberly Perry. "We got the good news yesterday that our debut album went platinum, it was certified yesterday, to so follow it with a nomination tonight is phenomenal. We're just in the clouds, absolutely."
The 54th Grammys will be held Feb. 12 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will mark the first since the academy shaved its categories from 109 to 78 this year, amid some protest. Some of the more niched categories, like best Zydeco or Cajun music album, were eliminated.
In addition, men and women now compete together in vocal categories for pop, R&B and country, instead of having separate categories for each sex. This year, the category is best pop solo performance and Bruno Mars is the only man nominated for "Grenade." His competition includes Adele for "Someone Like You," Lady Gaga for "You and I," Pink for "(Expletive) Perfect" and Perry for "Firework."
PARIS — Fashion’s most famous aficionado, music star Kanye West, turned pro on Saturday with a luxurious hard-edged women’s collection that bucked all the stereotypes about celebrity designers.
West has been a front-row fixture at fashion shows for years, but industry insiders had greeted news that he was planning to launch a line of his own with a more than hefty dose of skepticism and plenty of barbed quips about how it would surely be Lindsay Lohan’s leggings line all over again.
So, it was with slightly humbled wonder that the fashion editors, stylists and journalists hand-picked to attend Saturday’s late-night spring-summer 2012 show greeted the sophisticated, highly designed looks on the catwalk.
Sure, West didn’t reinvent the wheel: You could see the influence of established designers — many of shows he frequented over the years. There was a bit of Balmain in the short, sex-drenched dresses and some Givenchy in the gothic, bondage-y leather jackets and skirts, for example.
But luxed-up streetwear elements, like hooded jackets made in a mosaic of crocodile skins, gave the collection a unique voice of its own.
The specifics of project remained foggy: The extent of West’s involvement in the actual design remained unclear, as did the identities of those on his design team. But West’s emotional attachment to the brand was clear.
Speaking to reporters after the show, the seasoned performer kept repeating “I’m so scared, I’m so nervous.
“The biggest conversation I hope I can end tonight is whole ‘celebrity designer’ thing,” he said once he’d managed to collect himself. “That’s the biggest hurdle when you want to get amazing people to work for you.”
Another challenge, he added, was figuring out who to work with. The fashion industry is notoriously opaque and often inscrutable for outsiders, even ones as well connected as him.
Celebrities (R&B singer Ciara), designers (Joseph Altuzarra, Alexander Wang and Olivier Theyskens) and celebrity designers (the Olsen twins) turned out for West’s show, which was hands-down THE event on Paris’ spring-summer 2012 calendar.
Ciara, defying the stifling weather in a fur stole, said “he did a great job. I walked away from this show feeling like I would love to wear this line. There is so much in it that’s right up my alley.
“Especially since for me, it’s so cool to see someone come from our music world and do something like this. It’s really hard,” she said a backstage interview.
U.S. designer Jeremy Scott concurred.
“Everyone probably thought it was going to be another like Jennifer Lopez’s Macy’s line and it’s not, it’s really clear it’s not,” said Scott, who’s known for his kooky, colorful designs. “Kanye has impeccable taste and you see his taste level is up there. He’s a fan of design across the board. I have five-hour long conversations with him all the time about everything because he’s so obsessed, and I think we got a little bit of an insight into his mind there.”
Held in a high school in southern Paris, Saturday’s show drew a thick crowd of star-struck celebrity watchers who snapped their cell phone cameras at literally anything that moved. Some of the students who board at the school watched the guests file in from the other side of what looked like old-school prison bars and begged passers-by their invitations as souvenirs. — (AP)
Front-row regular Kanye West will be seeing Paris Fashion Week from a different vantage point next week: He’ll be backstage.
The media has been invited to cover the Kanye West Spring/Summer 2012 fashion show on Oct. 1.
West is a well-known fan of fashion, attending the Burberry runway show in London last weekend, and developing a close friendship with designer Tory Burch.
The debut of the music star’s own collection has been rumored for months.
The buzz also had him collaborating with Louise Wilson, a fashion professor at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London. But Wilson said Friday she’s “had absolutely nothing to do with his collection at any time.” She did say however that West visited the school twice and contributed to a fundraising campaign. — (AP)