Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grammys Pay Tribute to Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin

February 13, 2011

Grammys pay tribute to Aretha Franklin

Detroit News Pop Music Writer

A noticeably slimmer Aretha Franklin appeared in a videotaped message at the 53rd Grammy Awards, following a tribute to the singer that kicked off today's awards show.

She thanked fans for their support since her "hospitalization" but didn't get into any specifics of her illness, and she apologized for not being at the ceremony in person. "Next year, OK?" she said.

In the tribute to the Queen of Soul, Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch, Yolanda Adams, Jennifer Hudson and Martina McBride sang a selection of Franklin hits. Aguilera's five-alarm take on "Ain't No Way" was the most fiery of the bunch, and was over-the-top in all the right ways. It was the best Aguilera has been in years, perhaps since her tribute to James Brown at the 2007 Grammy Awards.

Eminem picked up one early award at the Grammys, kicking off what was expected to be a big haul for the Detroit rapper.

Em came into the show as the evening's most nominated performer, with 10 nominations stemming from his smash album "Recovery." The album was the best-selling release of 2010, and returned Eminem to the top of the musical pyramid.

In the pre-televised Grammy ceremony, Eminem won the Best Rap Solo Performance award for "Recovery's" lead single, "Not Afraid." He lost the Best Rap/ Sung Collaboration and the Best Rap Song categories to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' New York anthem "Empire State of Mind," and dropped the Best Short Form Music Video award to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" clip.

Speaking of Gaga, she was the talk of the Grammys' red carpet, arriving inside of an egg-shaped chamber that was carried by a team of assistants. It was one of the most bizarre entrances to any awards show on record, and the egg theme was tied to her new single (and upcoming album of the same name) "Born This Way."

Gaga also snagged an early award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Bad Romance." Other early winners of note: John Legend and the Roots won three awards, as did Jay-Z and alt-rock duo the Black Keys. Usher and Lady Antebellum won two awards. Bruno Mars, Sade, Mavis Staples, Cee Lo Green, Keith Urban and Rihanna were single winners in early categories.

Eminem wasn't the only Michiganian winning early awards: BeBe & CeCe Winans were honored for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album (for "Still") and for Best Gospel Performance (for "Grace"). Also, University of Michigan composer Michael Daugherty won the Best Classical Contemporary Composition for his "Deus Ex Machina," while the recently disbanded White Stripes won Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package for "Under Great White Northern Lights."

Michigan artists who were up for awards but who came up empty-handed included Kem, Aretha Franklin, Bettye LaVette, Karen Clark-Sheard and Fred Hammond.

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