Robert Plant and Alison Krauss appear to be off to a strong start during the pre-telecast of the 51st annual Grammy Awards taking place Sunday night (Feb. 8) in Los Angeles. Awards in 100 categories are presented prior to the Grammy broadcast that begins at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Plant and Krauss's Raising Sand was named best contemporary folk/Americana album. One of the tracks, "Killing the Blues," won for best country collaboration with vocals. Plant and Krauss are nominated in several categories, including album of the year and record of the year ("Please Read the Letter").
Brad Paisley also received two Grammys during the pre-telecast, including a best male country vocal performance nod for "Letter to Me." Paisley's "Cluster Pluck," a 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 track -- James Burton, Vince Gill, John Jorgenson, Albert Lee, Brent Mason, Redd Volkaert and Steve Wariner.
Plant, Krauss and Paisley were unable to accept their trophies during the pre-telecast, but Carrie Underwood was there to pick up her Grammy for best female country vocal performance ("Last Name"). Ricky Skaggs accepted the best bluegrass album award for Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947, a project with his band, Kentucky Thunder.
In a particularly strong category this year, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles won best country song honors for writing the duo's hit, "Stay." Other songs nominated included "Dig Two Graves," "I Saw God Today," "In Color" and "You're Gonna Miss This."
Other early Grammy winners with connections to country, folk and roots music include:
Best Traditional Folk Album: At 89, Pete Seeger
Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album: Live at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival BeauSoleil and Michael Doucet
Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album: Lovin' Life, Gaither Vocal Band
Best Long Form Music Video: Runnin' Down a Dream, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. Peter Bogdanovich (video director), Skot Bright (video producer).
Best Pop Instrumental Performance: "I Dreamed There Was No War," Eagles
Best Pop Instrumental Album: Jingle All the Way, Béla Fleck & the Flecktones
Best Polka Album: Let the Whole World Sing Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra