LOS ANGELES — Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson, who led this year’s Grammy pack of country nominees with six citations, held court behind the winner’s podium twice today during a pre-telecast ceremony.
Emmylou Harris and Marty Stuart handed out the majority of country-related Grammy awards today at the Staples Center here prior to tonight’s CBS telecast of The 42nd Annual Grammy Awards at 8 p.m. ET.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) awarded Asleep at the Wheel Best Country Instrumental Performance for “Bob’s Breakdowns” and Best Recording Package for Ride with Bob, the group’s multi-artist tribute to Western swing master Bob Wills.
Vince Gill and Steve Wariner also picked up awards for their contributions to “Bob’s Breakdowns.” Gill has won Grammys ten consecutive years. Tonight’s victory brings Gill’s total to 14; Chet Atkins is the only country act in Grammy history to win as many.
Asleep at the Wheel is still a contender for Best Country Album, which will be awarded during the televised festivities. Also, Benson will be on hand to present Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
Additionally, the Dixie Chicks are entered in the overall Album of the Year field, and Shania Twain and her husband, “Mutt” Lange, are contenders in the overall Song of the Year category. Both awards are among the 11 to be handed out during the broadcast, which will be hosted by Rosie O’Donnell.
Twain and Lange already picked up Best Country Song for writing “Come on Over.”
George Jones won for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “Choices.” He has won only once before, in 1981, for “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
The Dixie Chicks repeated last year’s success in the Best Performance by a Country Duo or Group with Vocal field for “Ready to Run.”
Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder took home Best Bluegrass Album.
Another repeat winner, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder captured Best Bluegrass Album for Ancient Tones.
June Carter Cash, who last year released her second-ever album Press On, accepted her first solo Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. Her two previous Grammy awards came from collaborations with her husband, Johnny Cash.
The country Trio of Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton — who last won a Grammy together in 1988 — picked up Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for “After the Gold Rush.”
The three-hour television show will contain two country performances: Faith Hill singing “Let Me Let Go” and the Dixie Chicks performing “Goodbye Earl.” Additionally, fiddlers Sam Bush, Mike Marshall and Joshua Bell will join double bassist Edgar Meyer performing “Death By Triple Fiddle,” from Meyer’s album Short Trip Home. The quartet of string musicians will play through a few portions of the selection, based on traditional fiddle melodies, then a 30-piece orchestra will join them in a stirring finale.
Martina McBride, Clint Black and his wife, Lisa Hartman Black, are among tonight’s presenters.
Willie Nelson is among several musicians and industry leaders to be recognized with Lifetime Achievement awards from the Recording Academy.
Check back shortly after the CBS Grammy telecast for full country coverage from Los Angeles.
Michael Gray contributed to this story.