Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain and soul ingenue Lauryn Hill each won two prizes at the American Music Awards on Monday, but neither turned up to claim their hardware.
Country star Garth Brooks won two awards as well, plus an additional prize for artist of the decade, and he ran out of people to thank after his frequent trips to the podium.
Brooks said backstage he felt ambivalent about his awards, and reiterated his plans to adopt a lower profile in the music world.
“I’m not sure that the people don’t need a breath from Garth,” said the country megastar, who often refers to himself in the third-person.
Brooks won the favorite male artist and favorite album prizes, both in the country category. He paid tribute to the acts his “Double Live” record defeated in the album category, saying female trio the Dixie Chicks did more for country music last year than he did, “and nobody’s cooler than George Strait.”
He added, “You feel good about the award but at the same time … you accept it with a grain of salt.”
Twain was named favorite female artist in both the pop/rock and country categories. She lost in a third category, favorite adult contemporary artist, to Phil Collins — another no-show.
Hill was cited in both the categories in which she was nominated — favorite female artist and favorite album, both in the soul/rhythm and blues categories.
Brooks won the favorite male artist and favorite album prizes, both in the country category. He dedicated his artist of the decade award to his father and late mother, and to his wife.
Along with Twain, teen singer Britney Spears and R&B singer Whitney Houston also had three nominations. Spears won one prize, for favorite new pop/rock artist, while Whitney Houston, who did not attend, was left empty-handed.
Mariah Carey received a special award of achievement, acknowledging her career success.
Meanwhile, veteran rock guitarist Carlos Santana crowned his rock ‘n’ roll comeback with a hugely popular triumph for his bestselling new album.
The 52-year-old vet, who made one of the biggest comebacks in rock history last year, saw his hit disc “Supernatural” named favorite pop/rock album.
The announcement brought the crowd at the Shrine Auditorium to its feet, and Santana in turn hailed Arista Records president Clive Davis for his “convictions, tenacity and vision” in getting the album made.
He asked Davis to come to the stage, which resulted in another ovation. Davis, 66, is locked in a power struggle for control of Arista with the label’s German parent, Bertelsmann AG, and did not shy from the opportunity to bask in the spotlight.
Later in the evening, Santana was competing with rival boy bands ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys for favorite band, duo or group in the pop/rock category. The award went to Backstreet Boys, and the prize was accepted by band member Howie D.
Overshadowing a legend gave Howie D. some mixed emotions, he told reporters. “Being a young little rookie, I kinda feel a little guilty but we’ll give him a run for his money,” he said.
Spears was philosophical as to whether her one win might be a forerunner of glory at the Grammys next month, where she is competing in two categories, including best new artist.
“I’m gonna go there expecting nothing, so if something does happen it’ll be really special,” she told reporters.
Santana’s “Supernatural,” which has sold about 5 million copies in the United States since its release last year, yielded 11 Grammy nominations.
Backstage, Mexican-born Santana spoke in typically cosmic terms. “It’s a real honor to be of service with this dimension of music,” he said. “Music for me is a spiritual force that brings harmony and beauty, class, grace and excellence to this planet, that we need so much for the new millennium.”
Other winners included Ricky Martin as favorite Latin artist, DMX as favorite rap/hip-hop artist, the Red Hot Chili Peppers as favorite alternative music artist and Brooks & Dunn as favorite country band, duo or group.
Comedian Norm Macdonald hosted the show, which included performances by the likes of Beck, Mariah Carey, Brian McKnight, Brooks & Dunn and ‘N Sync.
The list of nominees is compiled from sales and radio airplay data, and the night’s winners are picked by a poll of 20,000 Americans, whose tastes have traditionally favored middle of the road acts. The more prestigious Grammys, which take place next month, are voted on by music industry insiders.