Grammy Award winners' reactions
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Special Report: Grammy Awards
Complete Grammy coverage at Billboard.com
With Alison Krauss' five Grammys on the night, she now has an astonishing 26 total Grammy wins. It makes her the most-winning woman of all time (a title she even held before tonight's haul) -- and one behind Quincy Jones' living record of 27. "I'm still amazed I get to do this for a living," she said. (The most ever wins is 31, from the late conductor Georg Solti.) When asked where Krauss keeps all her Grammys, Robert Plant interjected: "That's silly. She keeps them in the back of my car." Backstage, Krauss, Plant and producer T Bone Burnett were jubilant: "Yes, we're doing another record!" Burnett yelled. Plant's only hint was that some of the songs were in the key of E. On a serious note, Plant said the diversity of their musical inspirations served them well: "We ostensibly come from such different places on the musical map," Plant said. "Alison showed me so much I never been exposed to." Added Burnett: "There is a limited number of people who like music, and the record industry got in the business of trying to sell music to everybody. We care about music, so we tried to make music we care about." And will Led Zep tour? "How old are you, man?" Plant asked. "Because you look older than me. You try to do 'Communication Breakdown' in these pants."
A joking, jovial Paul McCartney spoke -- among several topics -- about the difficulty of reaching people with music today. "We've come from 45-disc vinyl through cassettes, through CDs, through downloads," the performer-nominee said. "To me it's just a medium ... the world chooses how it listens, how it buys our music, how it takes it in. I'm happy whichever way they like to take it. There's still gotta be songs, so that's where I come in." Wait -- did Sir Paul mention downloads? So, what about iTunes? "There's no update, unfortunately," he said. "I'd like there to be -- I'd love it to happen -- but it's a bit of a deadlock on the business side of things." McCartney's outfit for the Grammys was a T-shirt designed by his daughter, Stella, which will go on sale next month as a benefit for Comic Relief. It's a photograph taken by Linda McCartney of the Beatles -- except on this shirt, red clown noses have been superimposed on all of them. And McCartney stayed mum on his plans for his upcoming Coachella set, saying "I'll play what seems right on the day. I never plan it."
Al Green was beaming and charming backstage, and he immediately was asked about the cobbled-together take on "Let's Stay Together" -- a last-minute replacement for the canceled Rihanna performance. "We had two hours and 20 minutes -- we were in the shower; we didn't have anything on," the R&B veteran said. "They said, 'Well, whatever you have, throw it in the bag and come up.' So we had two hours and 40 minutes to come and rehearse it, run backstage and get changed -- drop dead. That's the way we do it."
The late George Carlin's daughter Kelly Carlin-McCall accepted a Grammy for best comedy album on behalf of her father, for "It's Bad for Ya." She promised to take care of the trophy better than her father did in 1972, when he won a Grammy and, "in a chemically-induced altered state, took it apart, to the point that the academy had to send him a new one."
Whitney Houston's performance at a Recording Academy party honoring Clive Davis was on everyone's lips backstage. "Whitney Houston rocked the house," Herbie Hancock said. "Whitney is back," echoed Mary Mary's Tina Campbell. Added Yolanda Adams: "We are constantly praying for her. My joy is that the world saw that you don't have to stay in the shape you're in. You can move up."
After token discussion of his Grammy-winning "Global Drum Project," the questions for Mickey Hart inevitably turned to the Dead's upcoming tour. "We're just gonna go out and try to find that magic again because without that, it's not worth doing," Hart said. "I mean, after 40-some-odd years, we're taking this very seriously. We're going out there and, you know, we're waking up the dragon." Asked if there was a pivotal moment that fueled the reunion, Hart said without hesitation: "Obama. If it wasn't for Barack Obama, we wouldn't really be playing together." He cited the band's playing a benefit in October then being invited to play the inauguration. "We found out that we really do love each other and we miss each other, and there's no feeling like that in the world."
In retrospect, They Might Be Giants' Grammy win for best musical album for children, "Here Come the 123s," doesn't say much for the album's educational value, said the band's John Linnell. "I think kids already know numbers and letters, so we weren't teaching them anything, really," Linnell said of the group's first two children's albums on Disney. TMBG's next kids album will have a science theme, said Linnell, prompting the group to hire someone to fact-check the information. "We've got somebody else who will share responsibility for the false information that may wind up [there]."
Tia Carrere, on winning the Grammy for best Hawaiian music abum: "I can't believe I'm holding this priceless artifact [in] a $30 Bebe dress."
Herbie Hancock's favorite work of his so far? "The next one." Hard to say if this means it'll always be the next one in a theoretical sense or if he means his current project, a global collaboration "to trace the journey of humanity from its ancestral home in Africa" around the world, with music in different languages. We "can turn each other on to each other's greatness," Hancock said.
Darius "Deezle" Harrison, who co-produced Lil Wayne's best rap song-winning "Lollipop," countered Nas' famous suggestion that hip-hop is dead. "People are trying to emulate what they know works," Harrison said but emphasized that's nothing new. "You have people trying to copy Picasso, you have people trying to copy Van Gogh. Is painting dead? No. ... It is alive. It's just taking different forms, brother."
Chrisette Michele sang her thanks to God backstage for her Grammy win for best urban/alternative performance, for "Be OK" featuring will.i.am. "You are the source of my strength, and I lift my hands in praise to you," Michele, a deacon's daughter, belted out. "I definitely have to do a gospel album someday," added the singer, whose next album, "Epiphany," is due March 31.
Carrie Underwood visibly shook onstage in accepting her Grammy for best female country vocal performance for "Last Name." Underwood said being nervous, even after having won so many awards, is a good thing. "I hope that stays around, too. If you're nervous, it means you care."
Gospel duo Mary Mary is coming out with a bath-and-body-care line at Wal-Mart, an inspirational book for teenage girls and a line of jeans "for girls with a little extra curve," said Erica Campbell, who joined sister Tina backstage after winning a Grammy for best gospel performance. "There are so many people in jobs that suck that they hate. To be in that space and to be here winning this, it's a great time for me."
Director Peter Bogdanovich won the longform video Grammy for "Runnin' Down a Dream," a four-hour documentary about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He said the filmmakers amassed 500 hours of archival footage and shot 200 more. "We burned through four editors," he said. "They haven't been heard from since."
Duke Fakir, the surviving member of the Four Tops, confirmed that a biopic on the group is "in motion." "The concept is there; we have the financing and all that," said Fakir, who is also working on a new album. "By the way, it'll be a love story of four guys, who didn't get married, but it's about all the trials and tribulations they [had] to stay together. That's why I call it a love story."
Obama's election was a recurring theme backstage. Said B.B. King, winner for best traditional blues album for "One Kind Favor": "I don't think we've been supportive enough or given this guy enough time to do whatever he's gonna do. And I'm surprised that a lot of people are like that that helped to put him in there -- and very happy that they did help to get him to be elected, and it makes me think that America is really growing up. America is becoming America." At 83, what would the blues legend still want to accomplish? "I'm hoping one day that there'll be a movie made pertaining to my life and the things I've done and people say I've done." The obvious next question: Who would portray him? "Never thought about it," King said.
Gospel artist Yolanda Adams explained Aretha Franklin's much-discussed choice of headwear for her presidential inauguration performance: "It is really a statement piece for us," Adams said of the significance of a big hat. Historically, for black women, "Their hats were a statement of royalty," Adams said. At church on Sundays, "They were regal. ... They weren't the janitor's assistant or the lady who scrubbed floors."
Sugarland's Kristian Bush said he hung around Grammy rehearsals just to watch Paul McCartney practice. "He was mesmerizing -- c'mon, he's a Beatle!" he said -- and bandmate Jennifer Nettles laughingly worried that they'll never get the chance to work with him after her "psychotic" onstage thank-you.
And what was Al Green -- who won two Grammys on the night for best R&B performance by a duo or a group with vocals with John Legend for "Stay With Me (By the Sea)" and for best traditional R&B vocal performance for "You've Got the Love I Need" with Anthony Hamilton - going to do with his post-Grammy celebrations? No specifics, but "I'm going to repent because I went to church this morning," he laughed.
Estelle's hero of the night? Full-term mom-to-be M.I.A., who performed "Swagga With Us" with Jay-Z, T.I., Kanye West and Lil Wayne. "I was like, 'She's going to break any minute now," she said. "I have so much respect for her. I'd be like that, too, to get a chance to perform with them. ... Broken leg? I'd be like, hang on, I'm here."
Katy Perry was greeted with the sound of typing when she came backstage. "Are you all Facebooking or MySpacing?" she asked in breaking the silence. Self-deprecating and seemingly humbled, the singer basked in the experience. "I've been to the Grammys one time before, and I was sitting way in the bleachers -- you know, I had binoculars to see that Beyonce and Prince performance," she said. "Now I'm third row and very happy to be so." Perry added, "Last night it was really cool: I was at the Clive Davis party and was stuffing my face on chicken when Clive Davis said my name, and I was like, 'You know who I am?' "
Asked how five-time Grammy winners Blind Boys of Alabama felt about the election of the first black president without being able to see him, Ricky McKinnie said: "The Blind Boys may have lost their sight, but we haven't lost direction. ... I don't think about it as just having an African-American president. Mr. Obama is qualified to do the job. A lot of times we weren't the choice, but we had the ability. We're glad that he has an opportunity to serve the country." The winners of best traditional gospel album for "Down in New Orleans" were one of the big favorites on the red carpet as they serenaded the press at each stop -- the live cameras for the TV entertainment shows, the still photographers and the bleachers filled with fans.
And sometimes, it is just an honor to be nominated: Jazmine Sullivan didn't win any of her five nominations. (It's not as bad as India.Arie, who was once shut out in 2001 with seven noms.)