The 44th annual Grammy Awards, presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, will take place on February 27 in Los Angeles, California. The Grammys have long been considered America's most prestigious awards for achievement in music, and are now bestowed in more than 100 categories.

Irish rockers U2 lead the field at this year's Grammy Awards with nominations is eight categories, including Record of the Year for Walk On. They'll face some tough competition in that category from alternative band Train with Drops Of Jupiter, and the hip-hop and rap duo OutKast, with their plea for forgiveness, Ms. Jackson.

Two of the year's most critically-acclaimed artists are in the Record of the Year category as well. India.Arie, a seven-time nominee, is in the running for her ode to independent women, Video. Alicia Keys, nominated for six Grammys, is a hot contender with her debut single and Number One hit, Fallin. After hearing the news of her multiple nominations, R&B singer and songwriter India.Arie commented, "Musicians listen to other music really closely, and to have your peers say that they love your stuff, that's a good, good, good, good, thing."

India.Arie also is in the running for Album of the Year for her debut collection, Acoustic Soul. U2 makes appearance in that category as well, with All That You Can't Leave Behind, which has sold three million copies to date. Folk and rock veteran Bob Dylan is up for Album of the Year for Love And Theft, a CD that critics say is one of the best of his career. OutKast pops up again with Stankonia. The folk and bluegrass soundtrack to the film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? also is in contention in that category.

A winner in the Best Female R&B Vocal category will be very difficult to predict. India.Arie and Alicia Keys meet again with their tunes Video and Fallin, along with the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige and Family Affair. Jill Scott, who has also received rave reviews this year, competes with A Long Walk, and newcomer Blu Cantrell earned a nomination for Hit 'Em Up Style (Oops!) her song of revenge on an unfaithful partner. Rounding out the field is a sentimental favorite, Aaliyah, with Rock The Boat. The young singer died last year in a plane crash, just after completing the video for the song.

The Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration is awarded to artists who do not usually perform together. Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Pink and Mya are in the running with Lady Marmalade from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, and Christina is nominated again in the category for her duet with Ricky Martin, Nobody Wants To Be Lonely. R&B balladeer Brian McKnight teamed with Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync for My Kind of Girl, and rap and reggae combine with Shaggy and Ricardo "RikRok" Ducent and It Wasn't Me. Two legends also meet in the category for their duet - rock singer and songwriter Billy Joel and pop vocalist Tony Bennett with Billy's composition New York State of Mind.

In the category of Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal, veteran artists meet the younger generation. The Backstreet Boys with Shape of My Heart meet their rivals 'N Sync with Gone. Pioneering alternative band R.E.M. is in contention with Imitation of Life, and Irish group U2 appears again with Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of. New group Five For Fighting, led by singer, songwriter and pianist Jon Ondrasik, could be the frontrunners with Superman (It's Not Easy). Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the song has become an anthem for New York City police, firefighters and rescue workers.

The 44th annual Grammy Awards will be televised live to 175 countries on February 27.