Adele claimed the highest-profile wins at the afternoon Premiere Ceremony of the 59th Grammy Awards, held Sunday at the Microsoft Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.
The pop superstar’s inescapable No. 1 hit “Hello” got the nod as pop solo performance, while the English superstar’s set “25” garnered pop vocal album. “Hello” producer Greg Kurstin brought home non-classical producer of the year honors.
In a competition dominated by the Adele vs. Beyonce duel, Beyonce didn’t leave empty-handed. “Formation” was tabbed as best video. However, the full-length “Lemonade” feature from which it was drawn lost to Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week the Touring Years.” The latter win was only the eighth Grammy for the Fab Four.
David Bowie – who was rewarded with only one Grammy during his lifetime — received posthumous love, as his final album “Blackstar” was acknowledged as best alternative album, and the title track was named best rock performance. The awards were accepted on stage by saxophonist Donny McCaslin and the other members of Bowie’s last band.
The “Blackstar” album also received awards as best recording package (for Jonathan Barnbrook) and best engineered non-classical album (for a team that included Bowie). Barnbrook remarked from the stage that Bowie “had this very rare quality of getting people to produce their best work.”
Winners in the top categories in which Beyonce is competing will be announced at the evening Grammys ceremony, which commences at 8 p.m. ET at Staples Center.
It was nonetheless a celebratory afternoon for the Knowles family: Beyonce’s sister Solange scored best R&B performance for “Cranes in the Sky,” a track from her album “A Seat at the Table.”
Drake’s ubiquitous lover’s complaint “Hotline Bling” was honored as best rap/sung performance and (for Drake and Paul Jefferies) best rap song. The Canadian-born artist had just one Grammy coming into today’s ceremony.
Album of the year nominee Sturgill Simpson reaped the best country album award for his boundary-busting “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth.” He’s also up for album of the year honors, making him the underdog in competing against platters by Adele, Beyonce, Drake and Justin Bieber. Simpson dedicated his win to his wife and toddler son for supporting his ambition to write songs and break into the music business. “Six years ago I was working in Utah,” he said.
Best new artist nominees the Chainsmokers picked up best dance recording for their track “Don’t Let Me Down,” featuring vocalist Daya. Another nominee in the new artist category, Chicago-bred performer Chance the Rapper, took best rap performance for “No Problem,” featuring Lil Wayne and 2 Chains.
Max Martin, Shellback and Justin Timberlake collaborated on the best song written for visual media, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” from the animated feature “Trolls.” Timberlake has garnered 10 Grammys to date; prolific writer-producer Martin has received four. Shellback’s two previous awards were for his work on Taylor Swift’s “1989.”
Composer John Williams collected his 23rd Grammy for his score for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Williams won his first statuette in 1976 for his work on Steven Spielberg feature “Jaws.”
Guitarist John Scofield picked up a pair of awards for best jazz album (“Country For Old Men”) and the track “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
For the second year in a row, Bob Dylan was acknowledged in the best historical album category, for “The Cutting Edge 1965-1966,” a compilation of his complete studio recordings from that period. Last year, “The Complete Basement Tapes” took the honors.
The Dylan sets’ co-producer Steve Berkowitz also shared in the award for “Miles Ahead,” Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic, which spawned the best compilation soundtrack album; actor-director Cheadle, who portrayed the jazz trumpeter, was one of the three recipients in the category.
Country legend Dolly Parton was honored with her eighth Grammy as a remake of her 1973 hit “Jolene” with the a cappella group Pentatonix was named best country duo/group performance.
Lori McKenna took country song for Tim McGraw’s recording of “Humble and Kind.” Vince Gill won for American roots song for “Kid Sister,” recorded by the Time Jumpers. Gill said he wrote the song as a tribute to Dawn Sears, a member of the Time Jumpers who died in December 2014. “I encourage you to find her voice,” Gill said.
The Ted Nash Big Band collected best large jazz ensemble album for “Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom.” Leader Nash also picked up an award for a composition from the politically themed set, “Spoken at Midnight.” Backstage, Nash styled the album as “not a protest record – this is a celebration of freedom.”
Perennial winner Kirk Franklin picked up his 11th and 12th Grammys for best gospel performance/song (for “God Provides,” with Tamela Mann) and gospel album (for “Losing My Religion”). Hillary Scott & the Scott Family duplicated those wins in the contemporary Christian categories, for the song “Thy Will” and the album “Love Remains.”
Singer-songwriter and afternoon presenter Sarah Jarosz received a pair of awards, for best American roots performance for the track “House of Mercy,” from her best folk album winner “Undercurrent.”
Vocalist Lalah Hathaway scored a double-barreled win for best R&B album (“Lalah Hathaway Live,” recorded at the Troubadour, where her father Donny cut his concert set) and a track from the collection, “Angel.”
Soul veteran William Bell, active since the 1960s, accepted his very first Grammy for the album “This is Where I Live,” which marked his return to the historic Stax label, where he enjoyed the first major hits of his career. Octogenarian soul blues performer Bobby Rush also caught the first Grammy of his 66-year career, for best traditional blues album (“Porcupine Meat”).
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma collected a crossover award in the best world music album category, for “Sing Me Home.” The classical virtuoso has received 19 Grammys to date.
David Frost added a fifth classical producer of the year award to his resume, for his work on nine titles. Frost is a 15-time Grammy winner.
Patton Oswalt took comedy album honors for “Talking for Clapping.” “This has not been a fun year,” he said. “I’m going to try to be as goofy and obnoxious as I possibly can to help.”
Composer Michael Daugherty’s “Tales of Hemingway” took three classical categories, for classical composition, classical compendium and classical instrumental solo (for cellist Zuill Bailey).
In the afternoon’s most emotional moment, Rory Lee Feek accepted the best roots gospel album award for “Hymns” on behalf of his late wife Joey, who died of cancer at the age of 41 last March. He had charted Joey’s struggle with the disease in a widely read blog.
Accepting the award, he recalled his wife recording vocals in hotel rooms while she underwent chemotherapy and other treatments. She made him promise to attend the Grammy ceremony if “Hymns” got nominated. “She said, ‘Remember, if we win, I’ll know before you do,’ ” he said.
Traditional blues album went to Bobby Rush, for “Porcupine Meat.” “This is my 374th record,” the 83-year-old singer said. “And finally.”
Kicking off the afternoon, the cast album for the revival of “The Color Purple” was named best musical theater album.
Hosted by comic Margaret Cho, the early ceremony was highlighted by a performance by Judy Collins, who saluted the late Leonard Cohen with his song “Suzanne,” which she popularized on her 1967 album “Wildflowers.”
Multi-instrumentalist Mark O’Connor’s family unit O’Connor Band (which took the best bluegrass album award for “Coming Home”), jazz ensemble Third Coast Ensemble with Ravi Coltrane, Native American group Northern Cree with Carla Morrison and reggae scion Ziggy Marley (who took best reggae album honors for his self-titled set) also appeared.
“Music is a powerful tool,” Marley told the crowd after his win. “We must use that power wisely and use it now and spread a message through music that will benefit humankind.”