LOS ANGELES – While most tune into the Grammys for the musical numbers and marquee awards, awards in 75 of the 83 categories are presented in a 3 ½-hour pre-show at the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live.
Before the main event started at the neighboring Staples Center, Little Big Town, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift and Alabama Shakes were in for two awards each and nomination-leader Kendrick Lamar had already scored four.
The ever-casual Chris Stapleton, looking shaggy in a jean jacket, maintained his low-key cool when accepting his inaugural Grammy for best country solo performance for the title track of his breakthough “Traveller” album.
“I’ve been sitting out in this audience a couple of different times,” he said, referring to his original career as a songwriter. “Third time’s a charm, I guess.”
It was a night of firsts for Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and Alabama Shakes as well. Sheeran, wearing a tuxedo and sneakers, joked that, “I’ve come here the last four years and never won and always had to explain to my family…why?”
Sheeran won for best pop solo performance for “Thinking Out Loud,” while Bieber’s win came for his collaboration with Diplo and Skrillex (“Where Are U Now” for best dance recording) and Alabama Shakes for best rock song (“Don’t Wanna Fight”) and best alternative album (“Sound & Color”).
A visibly surprised Brittany Howard said of the band’s wins, “I never even dreamed of this moment.”
On the other end of the victory spectrum, Tony Bennett, 89, collected his 18th career Grammy for best traditional pop vocal album for “The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern,” on which he worked with jazz pianist Bill Charlap.
“It’s so wonderful to me,” Bennett said with a huge smile. “I love you all.”
Also during the pre-show, Atlanta’s Susan Archie claimed her third career Grammy in the category of best boxed or special limited edition package. “The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume Two (1928-32,” on which she worked with Jack White and Dean Blackwood. The trio won last year for “Volume One.”
Backstage, Archie, clad in a shimmery, sleeveless purple gown and clutching a champagne glass, said that this sequel was “a much harder feat to get made,” primarily because of release schedules.
As for where she’s going to put this third Grammy in her Candler Park home, Archie laughed and said, “I’m going to have to build a shelf!”
Georgia also earned a score when former President Jimmy Carter won for “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety,” in the best spoken word category. Carter previously earned a nod in the same category in 2007 for “Our Endangered Values.”
Several Georgia artists competed in the best contemporary Christian music performance/song category, including Crowder and Third Day. Taking the trophy was former Canton resident – and daughter-in-law of Newsong’s Billy Goodwin in Valdosta – Francesca Battistelli.
This year’s Grammys were based on material released between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015 and voted on by members of the Recording Academy.