Taylor Swift and the Zac Brown Band won their first Grammy Awards on Sunday (Jan. 31) in Los Angeles, recognized in two of the night’s highest-profile categories. Swift’s Fearless claimed the evening’s final honor — album of the year. She also collected three country trophies — best female country vocal performance and best country song for “White Horse,” as well as best country album for Fearless. Meanwhile, the Zac Brown band won best new artist among all genres.
“I just hope that you know how much this means to me and Nathan [Chapman], my producer, and to all these musicians you see on this stage that we get to take this back to Nashville,” she said, leading to roars from the crowd. “Oh my God, our families are freaking out in their living rooms! My dad and my little brother are losing their minds in the living room right now. This is for my dad. Thank you for all those times you said I could do whatever I wanted in life. And my mom, you’re my best friend.”
Swift excitedly continued, “All of us, when we’re all 80 years old and we are telling the same stories over and over again to our grandkids, and they’re so annoyed with us, this is the story we’re going to be telling over and over again — in 2010, that we got to win album of the year at the Grammys.”
About halfway through the night, Swift performed her new single, “Today Was a Fairytale,” from the soundtrack to Valentine’s Day, an upcoming film that also features Swift in a supporting role. Swift also surprised the audience by bringing out Stevie Nicks to perform a duet of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon.” Nicks also stuck around to sing along with Swift’s Grammy-nominated hit, “You Belong With Me.”
Upon accepting the country album award early in the night, Swift said, “This is my first time walking up those stairs to accept a Grammy on national television. Thank you so much. I want to thank my record label for letting me write every song on my album. I just keep thinking back to when you’re in second grade, and you sing at your talent show for the first time, and people joke around and they say, ’Oh, maybe we’ll see you at the Grammys someday.’ But that seems like the impossible dream. I feel like I’m standing here accepting an impossible dream right now and I thank you so much for that.”
Swift’s other two country awards were awarded prior to the telecast. However, she lost in the categories of record of the year (Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody”), song of the year (Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”). She had also been nominated for best pop female performance (Beyoncé’s “Halo”) and best pop collaboration with vocals (Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat, “Lucky”).
Best known for their country hit, “Chicken Fried,” the members of the Zac Brown Band took turns thanking the various businesses that helped propel their career. “There are so many people that we want to thank and it’s such an honor to be on the stage, and then to be shared in this big amalgam of music here,” Brown said at the podium. “We’re so honored and blessed to be here and looking forward to playing for you all in a little bit. Thank you so much.”
The band was later joined by Leon Russell on a medley of songs, including “America the Beautiful” and “Chicken Fried.” They were introduced by actor Chris O’Donnell, who also acknowledged famed Nashville studio musician Harold Bradley, recipient of a Trustees Award from the Recording Academy, given to outstanding non-performing individuals in the music business.
Prior to the telecast, Keith Urban won the third Grammy of his career for best male vocal performance of “Sweet Thing.” His other Grammy-winning songs include “Stupid Boy” and “You’ll Think of Me.” Urban and Miranda Lambert presented the Zac Brown Band with their award. Lambert and Urban also acknowledged Loretta Lynn’s Lifetime Achievement Award as well as television director Walter C. Miller’s Trustees Award.
Lady Antebellum claimed their first career Grammy for best country performance by a duo or group with vocals for “I Run to You.” The band also performed “Need You Now” during the show, following an introduction by the Jonas Brothers.
Randy Travis and Carrie Underwood added another Grammy to their already crowded mantles when “I Told You So” won for best country collaboration with vocals. It brings Travis’ career total to seven Grammys, stretching back to the late 1980s with his albums Always and Forever and Old 8×10. Underwood has now won five Grammys in four years. She won the best new artist category in 2007. Her other Grammy-winning hits include “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” “Before He Cheats” and “Last Name.”
Underwood joined Celine Dion, Usher, Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson as part of a Michael Jackson 3-D tribute on “The Earth Song.” Shortly after that, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles joined Bon Jovi to perform their hit, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” which won a Grammy for best country collaboration with vocals in 2007. Nettles then declared that fans had voted online to hear Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” so they played a few lines of the classic together — and Nettles was rewarded with a kiss on the lips from Jon Bon Jovi.
Other pre-show winners include Levon Helm for Americana album for Electric Dirt. His previous album, Dirt Farmer, won a Grammy for best traditional folk album two years ago. Meanwhile, Steve Earle’s latest album, Townes, earned him his third Grammy for contemporary folk album. His previous wins in that category include Washington Square Serenade and The Revolution Starts … Now. Loudon Wainwright III won his first Grammy in a long career in the traditional folk album category with High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project.
Steve Wariner earned his fourth Grammy as “Producer’s Medley” won best country instrumental performance. The track incorporates his instrumental renditions of famous country songs produced by Chet Atkins and comes from the album, Steve Wariner, c.g.p., My Tribute to Chet Atkins. His other careers wins were also for collaborations with the likes of Brad Paisley, Asleep at the Wheel, Ricky Skaggs and Vince Gill.
Steve Martin collected his fourth Grammy when The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo won for best bluegrass albums. Martin won a country Grammy in 2002 for his collaboration with Earl Scruggs on “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and previously won two Grammys in the 1970s for his comedy recordings.
Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5: The Musical was up for best musical show album but lost to West Side Story. In addition, Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” — written by Jessi Alexander and Jon Mabe — was nominated for best song written for motion picture, television or other visual media but lost to “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire. Brad Paisley’s “Playing With Fire” lost in the best rock instrumental performance category to Jeff Beck’s “A Day in the Life.” The Beatles’ Love — All Together Now also bested Johnny Cash’s America and Keith Urban’s Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy World Tour Live in the category of best long form music video.See Complete Coverage of the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards