Vindication by the music industry descended late upon Bob Dylan, R. Kelly and folk-pop singer Shawn Colvin. But once it did, it arrived lavishly. The three artists, long shunned by the Grammy Awards, came away big winners at the 40th-annual ceremony Wednesday in New York.
In one night, Dylan won as many Grammys (three) as he had claimed in the previous 35 years, a time when he exploded the boundaries of how a rock song could sound, what it could say and whom it could influence. What is even more surprising, Dylan was honored not for a lesser, past-his-prime effort, as so often has been the case at the Grammys, but for one of the best albums of his career, “Time Out of Mind.” It was named album of the year and best folk album, and one of its strongest songs, “Cold Irons Bound,” won for best male rock performance.
To cap his family’s good night, son Jakob won two Grammys for “One Headlight,” the song he wrote for his band, the Wallflowers.
Kelly, shut out in the ‘90s despite his emergence as one of the most dominant singer-songwriter-producers in rhythm and blues, was also presented with three awards for his gospel-drenched pop hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” named as best R&B; male vocal, best R&B; song and best song written for a movie or for television.
Colvin, who had previously won a minor Grammy but whose mature brand of folk-pop had otherwise been largely ignored by the music industry in a career stretching back to the mid-‘80s, hauled in two major awards - song and record of the year - for her hit “Sunny Came Home.”
Paula Cole salvaged just one of her seven nominations, but it was a big one - for best new artist, beating out a strong field that included Fiona Apple, Erykah Badu, Puff Daddy and Hanson.
The nationally broadcast program wasn’t as staid as in past years, though not because of any renewed commitment to pushing the musical envelope by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the 12,000-member organization that votes on the awards. Instead, slip-ups, cancellations and unscheduled performers nearly stole the show. Notoriously fickle prima donnas Luciano Pavarotti and Barbra Streisand canceled their scheduled performances. Dylan was introduced as “Billy Dylan” by R&B; crooner Usher, who apparently still was in shock after a squirming male dancer - the words “Soy Bomb” scrawled on his bare chest - joined Dylan on stage for his performance. And a boisterous, microphone-wielding intruder - identified in wire service reports as Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard - headed off Colvin before she could accept one of her trophies by loudly extolling the virtues of his group, which lost out for best rap album to Puff Daddy.
“Maybe next year we’ll set up a mosh pit,” said academy President Michael Greene.
There were a number of surprises, in which the academy ignored cleancut million-selling artists (Hanson, LeAnn Rimes) and some of the established pros (Fleetwood Mac, the Rolling Stones, Babyface) to hand honors to more cutting-edge performers, such as British acid-funkster Jamiroquai (for best pop performance by a group) and Badu (whose sultry debut “Baduizm” won for best R&B; album).
Hollywood tie-ins didn’t hurt; in what is becoming an increasingly disturbing trend, songs on movie soundtracks inevitably triumphed over those confined to mere compact discs.
How else to explain the triumph of Will Smith - an agreeable actor with no evident rapping skills? He descended in a space ship, emerged in a shower of sparks and then rapped his theme from “Men in Black.” The slight, if catchy, number triumphed over more substantial offerings from Missy Elliott and the Notorious B.I.G. for best rap solo performance.
Other performers rode the Hollywood gravy train. Trisha Yearwood nabbed the best country vocal for “How Do I Live,” and in her acceptance speech made sure to thank the producers of “Con Air” for including the song in the movie soundtrack. Smashing Pumpkins triumphed for best hard-rock performance with a song, “The End Is the Beginning Is the End,” culled from the “Batman & Robin” movie score. And Kelly’s honor for “I Believe I Can Fly” was clearly boosted by its presence in the movie “Space Jam,” as the singer acknowledged by singling out the movie’s stars, Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, alongside God and his manager in his acceptance speech for best male R&B; vocal.
Georg Solti, the late Chicago Symphony Orchestra conductor, was honored for best opera recording (“Wagner: Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg”). It was Solti’s 31st award, adding to his record as the most decorated artist in Grammy history.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: GRAMMY AWARD WINNERS Record of the year: “Sunny Came Home,” Shawn Colvin and John Leventhal. Album of the year: “Time Out of Mind,” Bob Dylan. Song of the year: “Sunny Came Home,” Shawn Colvin and John Leventhal. New artist: Paula Cole. Female pop vocal performance: “Building a Mystery,” Sarah McLachlan. Male pop vocal performance: “Candle in the Wind 1997,” Elton John Pop performance by a duo or group with vocal: “Virtual Insanity,” Jamiroquai. Pop collaboration with vocals: “Don’t Look Back,” John Lee Hooker with Van Morrison. Pop instrumental performance: “Last Dance,” Sarah McLachlan. Dance recording: “Carry On” Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder. Pop album: “Hourglass,” James Taylor. Traditional pop:”Tony Bennett on Holiday,” Tony Bennett. Female rock performance: “Criminal,” Fiona Apple. Male rock performance: “Cold Irons Bound,” Bob Dylan. Rock performance by a duo or group with vocal: “One Headlight,” The Wallflowers. Hard rock performance: “The End Is the Beginning Is the End,” Smashing Pumpkins. Metal performance: “Aenema,” Tool. Rock instrumental performance: “Block Rockin’ Beats,” Chemical Brothers. Rock song: “One Headlight,” Jakob Dylan. Rock album:”Blue Moon Swamp,” John Fogerty. Alternative music album: “OK Computer,” Radiohead. Female R&B; vocal performance: “On & On,” Erykah Badu. Male R&B; vocal performance: “I Believe I Can Fly,” R. Kelly. R&B; performance by a duo or group with vocal: “No Diggity,” Blackstreet. R&B; song: “I Believe I Can Fly,” R. Kelly. R&B; Album: “Baduizm,” Erykah Badu. Rap solo performance: “Men in Black,” Will Smith. Rap performance by a duo or group: “I’ll Be Missing You,” Puff Daddy and Faith Evans Featuring 112. Rap album: “No Way Out,” Puff Daddy and The Family. Female country vocal performance: “How Do I Live,” Trisha Yearwood. Male country vocal performance: “Pretty Little Adriana,” Vince Gill. Country performance by a duo or group with vocal:”Looking in the Eyes of Love,” Alison Krauss and Union Station. Country song: “Butterfly Kisses,”Bob Carlisle, Jeff Carson, Raybon Bros. Country album: “Unchained,” Johnny Cash. Contemporary jazz performance: “Into the Sun,” Randy Brecker. Jazz vocal performance: “Dear Ella,” Dee Dee Bridgewater. Jazz instrumental solo: “Stardust,” Doc Cheatham and Nicolas Payton. Jazz instrumental performance: “Beyond the Missouri Sky,” Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny. Large jazz ensemble performance: “Joe Henderson Big Band,” Joe Henderson Big Band. Rock gospel album: “Welcome to the Freak Show: dc Talk Live in Concert,” dc Talk. Pop/contemporary gospel album: “Much Afraid,” Jars of Clay. Traditional soul gospel album: “I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray,” Fairfield Four. Classical album: “Beethoven: “Premieres - Cello Concertos (Works Of Danielpour, Kirchner, Rouse),” Steven Epstein, producer, Philadelphia Orchestra. Orchestral performance: “Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique,” Tristia PierreBoulez, conductor, The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, The Cleveland Orchestra. Opera recording: “Wagner: DieMeistersinger von Nurnberg,” Sir Georg Solti, conductor. Instrumental soloist(s) performance with orchestra: “Premieres - Cello Concertos (Works of Danielpour, Kirchner, Rouse),” Yo-Yo Ma, cello. Instrumental soloist performance without orchestra: “Bach: Suites For Solo Cello Nos. 1-6,” Janos Starker, cello.