While the United States music industry honored its best performers Sunday night in New York City, one artist in particular captured the limelight.
"And the Grammy goes to ? Come Away With Me, Norah Jones ? Don't Know Why, Norah Jones ? The Best New Artist, Miss Norah Jones! ? And this little Grammy goes to Norah Jones ? Woo!"
This time last year, few U.S. music fans knew the name Norah Jones. Although the New York City native won a series of Down Beat magazine student music awards as a teenager, she was a largely unknown quantity to the general public.
That all changed Sunday night, as the 23-year-old singer took home an armload of Grammy Awards, eight in all.
While she rested between trips to the podium, other newcomers introduced themselves to the global television audience. John Mayer, an Atlanta, Georgia-based singer/songwriter, was the lone male entrant in the Best New Artist race. While he failed to convert on that win, he did capture the Best Male Pop Vocal Grammy for Your Body Is A Wonderland.
"I just want to say that I pride myself on always being bigger than the moment, and smarter than the moment, and I'm just a 16-year-old kid in this moment, and this moment is kicking my [bleep]," said John Mayer.
The 45th annual Grammy Awards ceremony took place in Madison Square Garden in New York City. The show returned to the East Coast metropolis after four years in Los Angeles, and the "Big Apple," as it's popularly known, figured prominently in the proceedings. A succession of New York City stage and screen stars hosted, while New York natives Simon and Garfunkel kicked off the evening with a rendition of The Sound Of Silence. It was their first public performance in 10 years.
Eminem journeyed from his hometown of Detroit, Michigan to perform Lose Yourself, from the soundtrack to his starring film 8 Mile. Accepting his Best Rap Album award, he listed the artists whom he considers his greatest influences.
"I made me a little list of M.C.s that I wanted to name off that inspired me, to bring me where I am today, 'cause honestly I wouldn't be here without them. The list is this: Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Cool G Rap, Master Ace, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Doctor Dre, all the N.W.A., KRS-1, Treach from Naughty By Nature, Nas Tupac [Shakur], Biggie [Notorious B.I.G.], Jay-Z. Thank you, 'cause I learned from all of you. Thank you," said Eminem.
Among the highlights of the three-and-a-half-hour telecast were two tributes to recently departed stars: Joe Strummer of the punk rock band The Clash, who died December 22 at age 50, and Maurice Gibb of The Bee Gees, who died January 9 at 53. An all-star rock lineup performed The Clash's song, London Calling, while the vocal group 'N Sync delivered an a capella rendition of The Bee Gees' greatest hits.
Ultimately, however, the night belonged to Norah Jones. Her debut album Come Away With Me generated eight Grammy awards, including sweeping each of the so-called "Big Four" Awards: Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist. The daughter of legendary Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar and former promoter Sue Jones, Norah appeared more amazed with each new honor.
"Wow! I never ever thought that the music I made would be considered popular music, so this is amazing," she said. "Thank you so much. This song was recorded as a demo, and I can't believe what's happened to it. Who knew? Not me!"
Norah Jones thanked Arif Mardin, Jay Newland, Lee Alexander, Dan Reeser, and Jesse Harris, who produced the demo. She stated how blessed she feels and how really lucky year she had. In the end, the soft-spoken singer let her music do the talking.