The Dixie Chicks from left, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and
Martie Maguire, accept the award for best country album for 'Taking the Long
Way' at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007, at the Staples
Center in Los Angeles.[AP]
LOS ANGELES - The Dixie Chicks completed a defiant comeback on Sunday night,
capturing five Grammy awards after being shunned by the country music
establishment over the group's anti-Bush comments leading up to the Iraq
The Texas trio won all the biggest categories, including record and song of
the year for the no-regrets anthem "Not Ready to Make Nice." They also won best
country album, which was especially ironic considering they don't consider
themselves country artists anymore.
"I'm ready to make nice!" lead singer Natalie Maines exclaimed as the group
accepted the album of the year award. "I think people are using their freedom of
speech with all these awards. We get the message."
Mary J. Blige's comeback also was richly rewarded: She received three
trophies for her double-platinum album "The Breakthrough." The Red Hot Chili
Peppers won four for their double-disc "Stadium Arcadium."
The Dixie Chicks won all five awards they were nominated for, sweet
vindication after the superstars' lives were threatened and sales plummeted when
Maines criticized President Bush on the eve of the Iraq war in 2003. Almost
overnight, one of the most successful groups of any genre was boycotted by
Nashville and disappeared from country radio.
With "Taking the Long Way," the women relied on producer Rick Rubin's
guidance for an album that was more rock and less country. (Rubin, who also
produced "Stadium Arcadium," was honored as producer of the year.)
The standing ovations the Chicks received Sunday illustrated how much the
political climate has changed regarding the Iraq war, and even Bush.
"That's interesting," Maines crowed from the podium after the country award
was handed out earlier in the night. "Well, to quote the great 'Simpsons' ！
"Just kidding," added Maines. "A lot of people just turned their TVs off
right now. I'm very sorry for that."
Bandmate Emily Robison noted, "We wouldn't have done this album without
everything we went through, so we have no regrets."
All the trophies collected by the Dixie Chicks (who shared song of the year
honors with songwriter Dan Wilson), Blige and the Chili Peppers contributed to
the evening's old-school feel.
The show often derided as The Grannys embraced its baby boomer status as in
its 49th year. Maybe the Recording Academy was trying to relieve the industry's
glory years ！ 2006 saw a sharp downturn in record sales, a decline that seems to
grow each year as fans flock to the Internet and even ringtones to experience
The Grammys tried to tap that new technology with its "My Grammy Moment"
contest, in which three unknown singers vied for the chance to perform on stage
with Justin Timberlake. Viewers determined the winner by voting on the Internet
and text messaging, but the winner's performance was forgettable.
The "Moment" also incorporated a bit of "American Idol" into the telecast.
Last year the Fox talent contest crushed the Grammys on a head-to-head Wednesday
night. So it was no surprise when the Grammys returned to Sunday this year.
Though the show featured a medley with bright new stars such as John Mayer,
John Legend and Corinne Bailey Rae, it relied heavily on the classics: Nominee
Lionel Richie sang his '80s hit "Hello" and Smokey Robinson sang the Motown
classic "The Tracks of My Tears" in a tribute to R&B. Rock and Roll Hall of
Famers The Police, who split in 1984, reunited to kick off the show with their
rendition of "Roxanne" ！ even though they were not nominated for anything.
Soon afterward, Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder's dueted on a remake of
Wonder's "For Once In My Life" beat out two of the year's biggest songs ！ Nelly
Furtado and Timbaland's "Promiscuous" and Shakira and Wyclef Jean's "Hips Don't
Lie" ！ for best pop vocal collaboration.
Even some of the more contemporary artists were relegated to singing songs
that weren't their own. Christina Aguilera sang the late James Brown's "It's A
Man's Man's Man's World" instead of her own nominated songs, while Carrie
Underwood, the newcomer with one of last year's most successful albums, crooned
"Desperado" and "San Antonio Rose" instead of her signature tune "Jesus, Take
the Wheel," which was nominated for song of the year.
For a while, it seemed as if VH1 Classics had taken over the show's
But new artists were celebrated, a bit. Chris Brown injected some hot-footed
funk with his "Run It," while Underwood was celebrated as the best new artist.
And double winners included youngsters John Mayer, T.I. and Ludacris.
Blige was the overall nominations leader with eight. She won best R&B
album for "The Breakthrough," her double-platinum triumph, plus best female
R&B performance and R&B song for "Be Without You."
A tearful Blige said her album "has not only shown that I am a musician and
an artist and a writer, it also shows I am growing into a better human being."
"Tonight we celebrate the better human being because for so many years, I've
been talked about negatively," said Blige, who during her 15-year career has
often discussed her past substance and self-esteem problems. "But this time I've
been talked about positively by so many people."