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Carey, Clarkson and West Snag Grammys

February 9, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Mariah Carey ended her 16-year Grammy drought by winning three trophies early in the awards show Wednesday night. Rock gods U2 and hip-hop maestro Kanye West also won three each.

Carey, one of the best-selling artists of all time, hadn’t won a Grammy since her first two as a fresh-faced ingenue in 1990. On Wednesday, she won three in the pre-telecast ceremony, including best contemporary R&B album for ``The Emancipation of Mimi.″

She had the opportunity to make history later in the evening. Nominated for a leading eight Grammy nominations, tied with Kanye West and John Legend, she could become the first female artist to win six in a single evening (Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill and Beyonce each have five apiece.)

However, Carey lost to Aretha Franklin for best traditional R&B vocal performance, and to Kelly Clarkson’s triumphant ``Since U Been Gone″ for best female pop vocal performance.

``I’m sorry I’m crying again on national television,″ said Clarkson, the former ``American Idol,″ tearful and shaking as she held her first Grammy. ``Thank you so much, you have no idea what this means to me.″

Triple winners and perennial Grammy favorites U2 won for best rock album for ``How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.″ They still had a chance to win best song and album of the year.

U2′s The Edge said the award meant a lot to the group, ``but even more precious than the awards is the gift you’ve all afforded us, you’ve allowed us to continue to make our music.″

U2 provided one of the more rousing performances in the jam-packed show as they sung their hit Vertigo, then collaborated with R&B queen Mary J. Blige’s gospel-inflected fervor for their classic ``One.″

West’s three Grammys matched his total for last year. The brash rapper/producer played up (or lived up to) his egotistical reputation as he won best rap album for ``Late Registration.

``I had no idea, I had no idea,″ West said in mock shock as he pulled a huge sheet of paper that read ``Thank You List.″

The show started off on a two-dimensional note as the cartoon-fronted rock group Gorillaz performed their record of the year contender, ``Feel Good Inc.″ with the help of animation, a blue screen and guest rappers De La Soul. The performance then segued into a Madonna moment, as the pop queen _ who was not nominated for any awards _ sang her latest hit, ``Hung Up,″ with a chorus of dancers behind her.

But it was a brief, impromptu performance of Keys and Stevie Wonder, who introduced the first award, that energized the crowd. Wonder pulled out his harmonica and the two soulfully sang his classic ``Higher Ground″ as a tribute to the late Coretta Scott King, who was buried Tuesday.

``Let’s keep trying to reach that higher ground,″ Keys said. ``I forever want to reach that higher ground.″

John Legend was also an early winner, beating out Wonder, Keys, Fantasia and Earth, Wind & Fire to snag best R&B album for his platinum debut, ``Get Lifted.″ He picked up his second trophy for best male R&B vocal for ``Ordinary People.″

Alison Krauss & Union Station also had three awards each, including for best country album, while Wonder, who released his first album in ten years last year, also had two.

Carey was clearly the leading favorite heading into the music industry’s most celebrated evening, nominated in the most prestigious categories, including record and song of the year for her torch ballad ``We Belong Together,″ the year’s most popular song, and for album of the year for ``The Emancipation of Mimi,″ 2005′s best-selling album.

But she faced tough competition: For record of the year, her fellow nominees included West’s ``Gold Digger,″ the Ray Charles-inspired hit about money-hungry gals; the poignant ``Boulevard of Broken Dreams″ from Green Day; Gwen Stefani’s undeniably catchy ``Hollaback Girl″; and the funky ``Feel Good Inc.″ from the cartoon-fronted band, the Gorillaz.

The album of the year category also had strong contenders. West, nominated last year for his groundbreaking rap debut ``The College Dropout,″ was nominated for a second time for ``Late Registration″; U2 for ``How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb″; Stefani for her kitschy solo debut, ``Love. Angel. Music. Baby.″; and Paul McCartney for ``Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.″

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