In the year of the woman, Lauryn was clearly queen of the Hill. At the 41st annual Grammy Awards, the avatar of hip-hop’s acceptance by the music establishment danced away with five awards, including album of the year and best new artist trophies. Hill’s wins rewarded her groundbreaking solo effort, the Ruffhouse/Columbia Records disc “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” and broke the 21-year record of Carole King for the most Grammys nabbed by a woman artist in one night.
While Hill’s strong showing during the ceremony Wednesday at the Shrine Auditorium had been anticipated, the many wins of the women artists dramatically underscored the evolution of women performers into songwriters, producers, and arrangers in addition to their skills in front of the microphone.
“My Heart Will Go On,” off the Sony Classical/Sony Music Sountrax “Titanic” soundtrack, went four-for-four, with wins that included two to singer Celine Dion in the coveted song of the year and record of the year categories.
The wins in key categories came despite the tune being long in the tooth; it had an earlier awards night in the spotlight, taking home the original song Oscar last year.
Dion also picked up statuettes in the best pop female performance and best song from a motion picture.
Save for the latter category, Dion’s wins were unexpected.
Madonna also took multiple trophies, with wins in the record package, music video, dance and pop album lists. But despite her 20 years in the music business, the nod from the Recording Academy didn’t give her enough props to take home the big wins as some had expected.
Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” also nabbed best R&B song and female performance, while the disc “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” was named best R&B album.
But the album of the year win caught Hill by surprise. “This is so amazing,” Hill said, “this is crazy because this is hip-hop music” in a reference to the victory in the album of the year list and the besting of Madonna’s “Ray of Light,” Sheryl Crow’s “The Globe Sessions,” Garbage’s “2.0” and Shania Twain’s “Come on Over.”
Crow picked up her first Grammy during the pre-show with a win in the best engineered, non-classical album category for “The Globe Sessions.” She later nabbed the best rock album Grammy.
A tearful Crow mentioned the downsizing at her label, A&M Records, “which no longer exists anymore,” she said, and singled out execs Al Cafaro and David Anderle for helping her career to evolve and for her “to become a better artist.”
Backstage, Crow said the win marked “the end of an era” and provided “some closure” to her years at A&M. She said she’d like Hill to produce her next album.
Hill, whose wins were shadowed by a lawsuit that claimed she failed to give credit to collaborators on the album, nabbed her first Grammy of the evening for “Doo Wop (That Thing),” in the pre-telecast ceremony.
The win, which goes to the songwriter, bested another Hill track, the “Rose Is Still a Rose,” title song off Aretha Franklin’s latest Arista disc.
Hill would pick up her second Grammy of the pre-show with a win in the best R&B album category. The trophy went to Hill and engineers Comissioner Gordon and Tony Prendatt.
Hill’s new artist win bested the Backstreet Boys, who were twice previously nominated in the category, the Dixie Chicks, newcomer Natalie Imbruglia and blind tenor Andrea Bocelli, all widely considered longshots in the list. Her group, the Fugees, took the best rap album trophy last year.
Madonna, who nabbed her second career win for best recording package for her Warner Bros. disc “Ray of Light” on her way to three more trophies — she would also nab a win for best short form video for the album’s title track — nabbed the first award handed out on the televised ceremony.
Moments after performing “Ray of Light” as the show’s opening number, Madonna picked up a win for best pop album.
The disc was widely considered the category dark horse. Going into the ceremony, Madonna’s sole career Grammy was a win for longform video for “Blonde Ambition World Tour.”
The precursor to the trio of wins for “My Heart Will Go On,” came early in the pre-telecast when it earned a Grammy for best song written for a motion picture.
Dion — along with writers Will Jennings and James Horner — would soon return to the stage to pick up Grammys for best pop female performance and song of the year for the same tune.
Best rock song honors went to Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited,” one of the chart-topping tunes from the soundtrack to the Warner-Sunset Reprise Records “City of Angels” and penned by the singer.
Morissette also picked up the female rock performance Grammy for the tune, an award that had been expected to go to Crow, whose album “The Globe Sessions” was released late in the eligibility period and may have been more familiar to voters.
The win for best male rock performance went to Lenny Kravitz for “Fly Away,” a track off his latest Virgin disc “5.”
The album, which was initially slow to catch fire with consumers, has gained sales steam thanks to the widening airplay of the track.
Kravitz topped discs from John Fogerty — though it was a live, and not a new studio album — John Hiatt, John Mellencamp and the late Jeff Buckley.
The Beastie Boys logged their first career win for best rap song for “Intergalactic,” the kick-off single from their Grand Royal/Capitol Records album “Hello Nasty.”
But in an anticipated bit of Recording Academy contradiction, the group would also nab a best alternative music performance for the album.
Jay-Z, who was boycotting the ceremony for what he perceived as the Recording Academy’s lack of recognition of true rap artists, picked up his first Grammy for best rap album for “Vol. II … Hard Knock Life.”
The chart-topping Rockafella/Def Jam Records disc bested offerings from Puff Daddy protege Mase and Jermaine Dupri and A Tribe Called Quest.
Jay-Z’s protest centered on the exclusion of rapper DMX from the list, despite the latter’s album not being released within the eligibility period for this year’s awards.
Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” the track from his “Big Willie Style” disc, nabbed the best rap solo performance trophy. Smith topped tracks from such street-credible rappers as Jay-Z and Wyclef Jean, as well as Hill and Busta Rhymes.
The widely praised collaboration between Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach expectedly picked up the Grammy for best pop collaboration with vocals for “I Still Have That Other Girl,” a track off their Mercury Records “Painted From Memory” disc.
“I thought it was a longshot that we’d get nominated, let alone win,” Costello said backstage.
Other pop wins — and one that recognized the role neo-swing music played during the year — went to the Brian Setzer Orchestra for “Jump Jive ‘An Wail” in the best pop perf by a duo or group list.
The band’s “Sleepwalk” also nabbed best pop instrumental perf, both tracks off its “The Dirty Boogie” disc.
“Titanic” wasn’t the only film honored. Robert Duvall’s “The Apostle,” a multi-artist collection, earned a best country or bluegrass gospel album award.
“Mr. Duvall had to clear every artist,” said John Huie, one of the disc’s producers.
Best country collaboration with vocals went to the 13-artist track “Same Old Train” from the Columbia Records disc “Tribute to Tradition,” besting the Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood duet “Where Your Road Leads.”
Twain picked up her first Grammy of the evening with the win in the best country song category with “You’re Still the One.” The win, which underscored Twain’s crossover into pop stardom — goes to Twain and hubby-producer Robert John Mutt Lange.
And while Twain also nabbed a best country female performance for the tune, she was denied the best country album Grammy for “Come on Over,” which unexpectedly went to newcomers Dixie Chicks’ debut “Wide Open Spaces.”
Producer of the year Grammy went to Rob Cavallo for his work with the Goo Goo Dolls, Morissette and Green Day.
Wins in the jazz categories saw multiple Grammy winner Pat Metheny landing the best contemporary jazz performance statuette for “Imaginary Day.” The win was Metheney’s 12th.
Shirley Horn nabbed a jazz vocal Grammy, her first, for “I Remember Miles,” a widely praised Verve Records offering; while Chick Corea earned a best jazz instrumental solo for his pairing with Gary Burton on “Rhumbata,” a track from the “Native Sense — The New Duets” album.
The Grammy for best spoken word album — which last year went to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, was awarded to sentimental favorite Christopher Reeve, besting a recording by former President Jimmy Carter, among others.
Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, who updated their 2,000-year-old man shtick for the Millennium, nabbed the Grammy for best comedy album, their first win.
In accepting the award Reiner mentioned the pair — who received a standing ovation when the win was announced — was nominated when the first album was released 39 years ago. Bob Newhart took home the comedy trophy that year.
Best musical show album went to “The Lion King,” the multi-artist album culled from the legit production.
Classical wins tracked along predictable lines with Steven Epstein earning his fifth producer of the year win; “Barber: Prayers of Kierkegaard” earned Grammys for best classical album and best choral performance.
Lifetime Achievement nods went to Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, Mel Torme and Johnny Cash.
A Wynton Marsalis-led tribute to Duke Ellington was also performed during the broadcast.