By MESFIN FEKADU, AP Music Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Brandi Carlile, Lady Gaga and Kacey Musgraves won multiple Grammys in the show’s pre-telecast Sunday, a year after women were almost muted at the 2018 awards show.
Carlile won three honors in the Americana category and will compete for the three biggest awards during the live show: album, song and record of the year.
Ariana Grande also won her first Grammy in the same week that she publicly blasted Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich and accused him of lying about why she was no longer performing at the show.
“I know i’m not there tonight (trust, i tried and still truly wished it had worked out tbh) and i know i said i try not to put too much weight into these things …. but (expletive) ……. this is wild and beautiful. thank you so much,” she tweeted after learning about her win.
Childish Gambino, Tori Kelly and Lauren Daigle won two awards each. Beyonce, Jay-Z, Ella Mai, H.E.R., Hugh Jackman, Stingy, Shaggy, Dave Chappelle, “Weird Al” Yankovic, the late Chris Cornell, Greta Van Fleet and even former President Jimmy Carter also picked up early awards ahead of the live show, which was scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
There was a tie for best rap performance, and Drake was surprisingly not one of the winners. Drake’s “Nice for What” lost to Anderson Paak’s “Bubblin'” and Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future and James Blake’s “King’s Dead,” from the “Black Panther” soundtrack.
Gaga, now an eight-time Grammy winner, won best pop solo performance for “Joanne,” while her hit “Shallow” was named best song written for visual media.
The song from “A Star Is Born,” co-written by Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt and Anthony Rossomando, is nominated for an Oscar and also won at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and the Satellite Awards.
The track will compete for more Grammys, including song of the year, record of the year and best pop duo/group performance, where Bradley Cooper is a nominee.
Beck was a double winner during the pre-telecast, taking home best alternative music album and best engineered album (non-classical) for “Colors.” Emily Lazar, one of the engineers who worked on the album and won alongside Beck, said onstage that she was the first female mastering engineer to win in the latter category.
Women were strongly represented at this year’s Grammys. That’s in contrast to last year’s ceremony, where male acts dominated in nominations and the only woman competing for the top award, Lorde, didn’t get a chance to perform onstage.
Janelle Monae remembers being frustrated last year, but this year she is looking forward to the show, where women are now leading in nominations for big categories like album of the year and best new artist.
“This is going to be a special Grammys. As much as it is about me, it’s not just about me,” said Monae, who gave a powerful speech last year ahead of Kesha’s emotional and striking performance celebrating sisterhood and women’s rights.
“Yes, we have so much more work to do, but this is a moment to be celebrated. This is a moment for women to love on each other and let each other know,” she added.
Monae’s groundbreaking album, “Dirty Computer,” is one of five albums by women nominated for the top prize at Sunday’s show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy,” Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour,” Brandi Carlile’s “By the Way, I Forgive You” and H.E.R.’s self-titled album are also in contention.
Six of the best new artist nominees are women, including H.E.R., Chloe x Halle, Margo Price, Dua Lipa, Bebe Rexha and Jorja Smith.
“This is just the beginning of moving to a more inclusive future,” Monae said.
When asked about the lack of women in the top categories at the 2018 Grammys, Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow said women need to “step up.” He later acknowledged that it was a “poor choice of words,” and his much-criticized remarks forced the academy to launch a new task force focused on inclusion and diversity.
The lead-up to this year’s Grammys has not been completely smooth, though. Several big stars are not attending the Grammys, including Grande, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, the top nominee with eight, and Drake, nominated for seven awards.
Drama has also surrounded the Grammys around its Motown Records tribute: Some people complained when a promo aired on CBS showing Jennifer Lopez as the act set to honor the legendary record label, which launched the careers of the Jackson 5, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and more.
Some complained that a black artist should be involved in the tribute, while others said stronger vocalists should perform over Lopez. A representative for the Grammys didn’t return an email seeking clarification about the tribute.
Others set to perform Sunday included Cardi B, Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga, Travis Scott, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Diana Ross, J Balvin, Camila Cabello, Dan + Shay, H.E.R., Little Big Town, Post Malone and Chloe x Halle. Yolanda Adams, Fantasia and Andra Day will honor the late Aretha Franklin with a performance.