[Here’s the scoop on the Grammys as of 10:15 p.m. Will return with a final version at the end of the show.]
LOS ANGELES – Rap took center stage at the 58th annual Grammy Awards, thanks to the armload of trophies collected by California rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Lamar, who led the nominations with 11, claimed five trophies midway through the show, including best rap album for his landmark “To Pimp a Butterfly”
“This is for hip-hop, this is for Snoop Dogg, ‘Illmatic,’ this is for Nas. We will live forever,” Lamar said.
The lyrical wizard also turned in a riveting performance of the startlingly candid “The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright” that earned an ovation from the crowd (and the press room).
During the 3 ½-hour “Premiere Ceremony” at the neighboring Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live when 75 of the 83 categories were presented, Lamar picked up wins for best rap performance and best rap song (“Alright”), best rap/sung collaboration (“These Walls”) and factored in Taylor Swift’s win for her star-packed “Bad Blood” video.
Swift, who was already a double victor for the video and best pop vocal album for her titanic “1989,” opened the Grammy telecast on the Staples Center stage wearing a sequined body suit and stalking the stage for a fierce rendition of “Out of the Woods.”
Other live performances included dual winner The Weeknd, his famous coif hanging over his forehead like a claw as he performed “Can’t Feel My Face” and “In the Night”; two-time winners Little Big Town with a string-laden “Girl Crush”; Adele with a stark, emotional take on “All I Ask”; and a spectacular contribution from the “Hamilton” cast, beamed in live from Broadway.
This year’s ceremony also included an unusual number of tributes, both joyful – a medley for MuisCares Person of the Year Lionel Richie featuring Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan and John Legend – and reflective, as Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey was remembered by his former bandmates and Jackson Browne.
Chris Stapleton’s extraordinary year continued with his first Grammy wins for best country album (“Traveller”) and best country solo performance for the title track.
“This is something that you never, ever dream of. I’m super grateful for it, the shaggy Stapleton said from the stage.
It was also a night of firsts for Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and Alabama Shakes, who learned of their inaugural wins at the pre-show.
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 in the marquee song of the year category, as well as best pop solo performance for his tender ballad, “Thinking Out Loud.”
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, best rock performance (“Don’t Wanna Fight”) and best alternative album (“Sound & Color”).
A visibly surprised Brittany Howard said of the band’s wins, “My heart is beating a mile a minute. This is beautiful and I promise we will keep going. “
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, for “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 an award in the same category in 2007 for “Our Endangered Values.”
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.