Vets, newbies share in glory backstage

The Dixie Chicks were the big winners tonight, but it took a lot to get to that point. After massive controversy, the gals have risen up and showed naysayers who is boss. But was it worth it?

“By asking if we feel vindicated is missing the point. By doing what we do, we are artists,” said Emily Robison. “Selling records and winning awards is the cherry on top. What we went through led to amazing things.”

The Chicks won a heap of awards, despite very little airplay on country music stations.

“The Grammys is all types of music, not just what’s on the radio. It opens it up to more than what the kids are listening to,” said Martie Maguire.

“I’ve been getting my faith back in mankind just by the reactions to the President,” said Natalie Maines. “Honestly — and every time I say stuff like this it sound like such a Hollywood thing to say — I got my faith back through the political change.”

“I don’t believe God was with me tonight,” continued Maines. “But if he was, thanks for five for five.”

* * *

“This is an incredible night for me,” enthused songstress Mary J. Blige. “It was not just a music business breakthrough, but a personal breakthrough.

“When they didn’t want to put out the album and wanted to put out a greatest hits record, it was like a valley. I was beating myself up over it.”

But capturing wins for R&B album, R&B song and female R&B vocal perf proved one thing to Blige: “Real music is back!”

* * *

The Red Hot Chili Peppers had a full night, with a major win for Best Rock Album. But winning a Grammy wasn’t the only thrill for the boys.

“I’m speechless about meeting Ornette,” said Flea about lifetime achievement award winner Ornette Coleman. “He changed the face and possiblities of music and his concept was free. He’s a giant in music. I’m humbled by his soul.”

And Chad Smith also had a few things to say about fellow Grammy winners, i.e. the Dixie Chicks.

“I think they are great people,” said Smith, who lent a hand to the gals by sitting in on a few songs on their new album. “But I was kind of hoping that they wouldn’t win Album of the Year. But the drumming is stupendous.”

“Chad is the fourth Dixie Chick,” commented Flea. “So, technically, we all get about 1/16th of the Grammy.”

* * *

Pop vocal album winner John Mayer was a happy man on Grammy night, not only for himself but for the success of the Dixie Chicks.

“I’m really proud of them. I had the honor of listening to that record while in the studio with them. The door would open and you’d hear bits of great music,” the singer-songwriter-guitarist said. “They asked me to play a solo on one of the tracks, so I ran up the stairs and grabbed my guitar, and they were like, ‘No, not now!’ That’s how excited I was.”

* * *

“It’s nice to be back. People say when you win best new artist, it’s a jinx. But a lot of artists dispel that rumor. And I will too,” declared John Legend, winner for male R&B vocal perf. “I’m just going to continue to focus on making good music. Hopefully the rest will follow.”

Legend also commented on the state of the recording industry.

“As artists, we make records, but we also tour. Records are not the only way to make money. That’s just for the record company to make money. They need to figure it out.”

* * *

“I love that I won in the traditional pop category,” said Tony Bennett, who won that prize for vocal album. “It means that my music will last forever. It will never be dated. Even 50 years from now, it will still sound modern.

“I like the fact that I’ve become a live performer most of the time. The best way to learn about your music is to listen to your audience. That’s something marketing people just don’t get,” the crooner said. “When you listen to the audience, they will tell you what they like. Big corporations will never learn that.”

* * *

Garnering two Grammys for rap song and rap album, Ludacris was rather elated.

“Today was the best day of my life. It topped the past best day of my life, which is when I got signed and didn’t need to go back to my job.

“My life was filled with a lot of adversity and it really contributed a lot to this album,” Ludacris said. “Rappers have a lot to say. It’s about understanding where people come from and our reality. When we make albums, we are talking about our neighborhood. We face a lot of adversity and people can be scared of the truth.”

* * *

Rap categories were dominated by acts hailing from the South, but rapper Krayzie Bone aims to change that.

“Not many artists come out of Cleveland. That’s something we’re trying to change,” said the rapper, who won for his collaboration with Chamillionaire on the song “Ridin.” “The South is doing their thing now. The East Coast started it, the West Coast came in next. Now it’s time for the Middle.”

* * *

“We were in a bus in the middle of nowhere when we were nominated. This is an experience, a journey our music took us on. And now that we won, it’s brilliant,” said Andrew Stockdale of Aussie power trio Wolfmother, who won the hard rock perf Grammy for the track “Woman.”

“A lot of bands don’t even get the opportunity to tour the U.S.. It’s too expensive to come out here. We had other bands tell us how incredible it was to do well here.”

* * *

“American Idol’s” Randy Jackson was on hand to support his protégé, Van Hunt, who won for R&B perf by a duo or group for “Family Affair,” along with John Legend and Joss Stone,

Jackson also talked up “Idol’s” golden child, Carrie Underwood. “Love her — she’s huge. She validates what we do here. People watch the show and the auditions and call us mean, but at the end of the season, some great people win.”

* * *

Carrie Underwood has come a long way from the naive teen finalist on “American Idol,” but there are still some skeptics that believe reality show roots can work against a true music performer.

“In my case, it’s not true. Especially tonight,” said the Grammy winner for new artist. ” ‘American Idol’ proved it could transcend the talent show stereotype and discover talent that otherwise wouldn’t be seen.

“Country music was very proud to see one of their own and an ‘American Idol’ do well. ‘American Idol’ gives people with talent an outlet to reach fans, and people got into it.”

* * *

“Words are just as demanding as music. There is a rhythm and song to the words,” said Ruby Dee, winner for spoken word album for “With Ossie And Ruby: In This Life Together.”

“An autobiography is like dropping breadcrumbs along time for your kids and grandkids to find and learn about the times. We hope more people will be encouraged to write it down.”

* * *

“When I moved to Nashville, although the music was mostly pop-oriented, there was a secret society of players that kept bluegrass music on such a high level,” said Bela Fleck, recipient of the contemporary jazz album Grammy for Bela Fleck & the Flecktones’ “The Hidden Land”

“Although the jazz movement isn’t large, we stayed in Nashville. We hope to add to that level.”

* * *

“Anthony Keidis had his hand on the pulse of what the band was looking for, but we all worked on it,” said Matt Taylor, art director and Grammy winner (along with the rest of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) for boxed or special limited edition package of the album “Stadium Arcadium.”

“I never worked with them before, but I grew up on their music. It was a dream job. They were so cool and creative.”

* * *

Thom Zimny, Grammy winner for directing Bruce Springsteen’s longform video for “Wings for Wheels: The Making of ‘Born to Run,’ ” chatted about working with the Boss.

“Bruce was involved from day one. He sat through the sessions and the outtakes. Just like on the albums,” the helmer-producer said. “I got archival footage of a 25-year-old Bruce. Even he was surprised by his intensity. While working on the documentary, you notice he didn’t change over the years. He has the same intensity.”

* * *

The winner for historical album, “Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry 1891-1922,” was a “team effort,” said Richard Martin, one of the compilation’s producers.

“Finding these recordings in the nick of time before they were lost was a wonderful experience.”

* * *

“I didn’t consider this album as much of a gospel album as the others in this category,” said Jonny Lang, winner for rock or rap gospel album for “Turn Around.” “Honestly, I’m a little confused by the whole process.

“I didn’t think the album would ever make this category. I’m glad it did though — it’s close to my heart.”

* * *

“Art and culture come from human beings trying to share love with other beings. That’s what I try to do,” said life achievement honoree Ornette Coleman.

* * *

The infamous Ike Turner, who won the Grammy for traditional blues album for “Risin’ with the Blues,” was joined by his son and co-producer, Ike Turner, Jr. When asked if there were any issues about working with his dad, Ike Jr. stated, “Not a complaint.”

The elder Turner had this to say on upcoming projects: “I’m working on blues-hop. It’s a mixture between hip-hop and blues. I think it’s time that blues made a change,” he said. “I have the top hip-hoppers working on the album.”

* * *

Contemporary blues album winner Irma Thomas talked about her hometown of New Orleans and how it inspired her work and her album, “After the Rain.”

“They were really pulling for me. Whenever I win, New Orleans wins … the good that came out of it was all the charitable works I was able to do. It was my therapy.”

* * *

Lewis Black lamented about being at the Grammys and not winning in a music category.

“Anyone from my time — coming in at the ’60s — everyone wanted to be a musician. I was awful though. And my teacher was hideous. She had arthritis in both hands.”

The funnyman also chatted about winning the comedy album category over fellow comedian George Carlin, a major influence in modern comedy.

“About 15 years ago, Carlin called my home phone and said, ‘There is nothing I can do for you or your career, but I like what you do. You’re very funny,’ ” recalled Black. “It made a huge difference. You don’t get a lot of people telling you that you are okay.”

* * *

“It was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me,” said Robyn Troup, the big winner of the Justin Timberlake duet for the My Grammy Moment contest. “I was so ready for them to call someone else’s name. I had my game face on and everything.”

How could the day get better for the young Houston native?

“It’s my birthday!”

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