The Saturday death of 48-year-old Whitney Houston cast a pall over the pre-telecast Grammy Awards Sunday afternoon, usually dedicated to celebrating the best and brightest luminaries in the music industry.
Many artists referenced Houston in their victory speeches. Melanie Fiona, who won two Grammys for her "Fool for You" collaboration with Cee Lo Green, said Houston was her first musical memory, and later, when it came for Fiona to sing for the first time, it was a Houston song she sang. Fiona acknowledged the mixed feelings of adrenaline from winning Grammys to a "heavy-weighted feeling in my heart" because of Houston's death.
Opera singer Joyce DiDonato, who won the Grammy for Best Classical Vocal Solo. too mentioned Houston in her acceptance speech. Later, she said that as a "child of the 80's," she remembers singing Houston's "I Will Always Love You" any time she got a chance to sing karaoke. "Good singing is good singing," DiDonato said. "She was one of the first examples of great singing."
All three Grammy nominees with Utah ties lost their bids for Grammys.
Jenny Oaks Baker, nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album for her Kurt Bestor-produced album "Wish Upon a Star" on Utah-based Shadow Mountain Records, lost to Booker T., a past winner of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
After the pre-telecast Grammy ceremony, in which the Best Pop Instrumental Album award was awarded, Baker said she was "disappointed" but still thrilled to be at her first trip to the Grammys. "I'm grateful," she said. "I still have a beautiful life." Her day wasn't over, however. Baker was invited to walk the red carpet before the televised ceremony, and promised to "rock my white dress."
Two students at Southern Utah University, Taliah Johnson and Geneil Perkins, were part of an ensemble nominated for Best Choral Performance, but their nominated piece "Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem" lost to Eric Whitacre's "Light & Gold," featuring the King's Singers.
"It's a little disappointing," said Johnson after the pre-telecast ceremony. "But it's not super-disappointing. Eric Whitacre is a pretty big name in choral music. I knew who were up against. I never even thought I would be nominated in my whole life."
Although not a Utah production, the Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon" won Best Musical Theater Album, with producer Trey Parker exclaiming, "Mormons are having a great year!" In the media center later, he said that the musical would likely come to Utah during its second national tour. "Mormons love the show," Parker said. "For a lot of Mormons, it's like their 'Fiddler on the Roof.'"
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