Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Sweep Five Categories at Grammy Awards

Other Winners Include Jennifer Nettles, Sugarland, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, George Strait and Ricky Skaggs

Winning in all five of the categories they were nominated in, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss reigned supreme at the 51st annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland and Brad Paisley were also other multiple winners during the Sunday night (Feb. 8) ceremony at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Plant and Krauss found their charm with their first collaborative effort, Raising Sand, which was named best contemporary folk/Americana album and overall album of the year. Nominees in the latter category included Coldplay, Lil Wayne, Ne-Yo and Radiohead. Plant and Krauss’ wins stemmed from individual tracks from the album — best country collaboration with vocals (“Killing the Blues”), best pop collaboration with vocals (“Rich Woman”) and overall record of the year (“Please Read the Letter” ).

[Editor’s note: Watch videos of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss performing on CMT Crossroads.]

In accepting the album of the year award, Krauss thanked a series of people involved with the album, including the musicians who joined them in the studio and on tour, before adding, “Especially Robert. There’s never a dull moment.”

Plant is well-aware of the status and reputation he achieved during the ’60s and ’70s as Led Zeppelin’s frontman.

“I’m bewildered,” he said in accepting the album of the year trophy. “In the old days, we would have called it selling out, but I think it’s a good way to spend the Sunday. I’d like to thank Alison Krass for her kindness and patience, teaching me to sing in straight lines instead of doing all that twirly stuff. And T Bone Burnett, the conjuror, who as a producer has taken us to some great places.”

Burnett closed the acknowledgments by saying, “Thank you to Robert and Alison, I have to say, for coming to the studio with nothing on their minds except courage and love and freedom.”

Both of Nettles’ victories were for “Stay,” including best country song honors as the sole writer of the Sugarland hit. The duo’s recording of the song was named best country performance by a duo or group with vocals.

In accepting the performance Grammy, Bush told the audience, “Thank you all for voting for us. We work really hard at recording records.”

As excited as Nettles was over the win, she was obviously just as excited to be in the same room with Paul McCartney, who performed later in the evening.

“I told myself I was going to be cool because Paul McCartney and Coldplay are here, but I’m not cool,” she said. “Freak out!” And after thanking a series of people, including her mother and Sugarland’s record promotion rep and booking agent, Nettles added, “Paul McCartney!”

Paisley’s “Letter to Me” won for best male country vocal performance. “Cluster Pluck,” a multi-artist track from his Play album, won in the best country instrumental performance category. The award also went to the other guitarists who played on the recording — James Burton, Vince Gill, John Jorgenson, Albert Lee, Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert and Steve Wariner. Both of Paisley’s awards were presented during the pre-telecast and were accepted on his behalf.

Also during the pre-telecast, Carrie Underwood picked up her Grammy for best female country vocal performance for her hit, “Last Name.”

“There’s no way this could possibly ever on this planet get old,” she said in accepting the trophy. “I’d like to thank God for giving me a voice and for giving me a vehicle like American Idol and for blessing me so much throughout this short period of time that I’ve been able to do this. I’ve gotten so much love and support from so many people around me.”

George Strait won the first Grammy of his career when Troubadour was named best country album. It was announced during the pre-telecast, but he was not present to accept the award.

Ricky Skaggs was there when he got the news that his Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947 won the best bluegrass album prize. He and his band, Kentucky Thunder, recorded it as a tribute to Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys.

Noting that it was in 1947 when Monroe first recorded with the band consisting of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Howard Watts and Chubby Watts, Skaggs said, “This album is about them, about them fathering a whole generation of bluegrass like myself and others. I want to thank them for their effort. Earl Scruggs is here tonight. If you get a chance, go by and shake his hand, because he is the only surviving member of those five men, and he deserves honor tonight.”

If it’s truly an honor just to be nominated, Lady Antebellum had reason to celebrate for being included in the best new artist category, a competitive field that includes all genres of music. The win went to British singer-songwriter Adele, who gained attention in the U.S. with the hit, “Chasing Pavements.” Other nominees included Duffy, the Jonas Brothers and Jazmine Sullivan.

While country music is often overshadowed by other genres at the Grammy show, Sunday proved to be a strong night for country artists. Among the highlights was Sugarland’s performance of “Stay,” which segued into Nettles and Bush joining Adele to sing “Chasing Pavements.” Underwood performed a powerhouse version of “Last Name” while Chesney opted for a more subtle tone for his hit, “Better as a Memory.”

Although not nominated, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus ventured into the middle of the audience to sing an acoustic version of Swift’s “Fifteen.” Kid Rock delivered a forceful version of “Amen,” and Plant and Krauss performed “Rich Woman” and “Amen,” “Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On).”

While Keith Urban did not have his solo showcase spot, he seemed very happy and comfortable in the role as a sideman and collaborator. As was previously announced, he joined B.B. King, John Mayer and Buddy Guy on vocals and guitar in a tribute to the late Bo Diddley. During a tribute to Al Green, Urban played guitar in the band that backed the soul music great — along with Justin Timberlake and Boyz II Men — on one of Green’s classics, “Let’s Stay Together.”

In the non-country performances, McCartney appeared to be in fine form as he played bass and hit the high vocal notes on “I Saw Her Standing There” while backed by a band that included Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl on drums.

Other performers included Coldplay, Katy Perry, Radiohead, Estelle with Kanye West and the Jonas Brothers with Stevie Wonder.

New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne called attention to the continuing plight of his hometown in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina during a performance that featured Robin Thicke and Crescent City pianist-composer Allen Toussaint. Joining them were trumpeter Terence Blanchard and members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

View photos and other coverage of the 51st annual Grammy Awards.
Calvin Gilbert has served as’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.