In Which I Begrudgingly Acknowledge the Grammy Awards

Before I write about the Grammy Awards, I want to write about something much more interesting than the Grammys. (Zing!) The writers’ strike looks like it’ll end any minute. The Writers Guilds met on Saturday to hear the skinny on the tentative deal struck with producers. They’ll vote today, so the strike could end as early as tomorrow. (Fingers crossed!) According to the New York Times TV Decoder blog, Pleasantville screenwriter and negotiator Terry George thought it was a tough process. “I’ve negotiated with the British government, and these people were much worse,” they quote him as saying. But, according to the LA Times, the results were agreeable to George: “We’ve defeated a tradition of rollbacks that began with the air traffic controllers,” he said. More on this as it develops.

Back to the Grammys. Like most of America, so far I have completely ignored the Grammy Awards. (Zing #2!) The Grammys usually do their best to make themselves as uninteresting as possible, from favoring old-timers (like giving Herbie Hancock the award for Album of the Year), to diminishing the accomplishment of each win by sub-dividing into a million categories (such as Best Mexican/Mexican-American Album), to doling out awards for packaging (call me when they invent jewel cases that don’t break). That said, I took one for the team and waded through all 110 categories to bring you the local low-down.

We all know Amy Winehouse was the big winner of the evening, but did any county residents score the golden gramophones? As far as I could tell, there was only one recognizable Westchester name: Nora Guthrie, who won Best Historical Album for The Live Wire – Woody Guthrie In Performance 1949. Nora Guthrie lives in Chappaqua, and I hope she keeps the statue in the satellite office of her Woody Guthrie Foundation in Mount Kisco. (Check out our profile of Nora Guthrie, from our July 2007 issue.)

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Though the county only brought home one statue, an ex-resident was crowned multiple times: Mary J. Blige, Yonkers girl turned New Jerseyan, won for a couple of recent duets. The first, “Disrespectful” with Chaka Khan, brought home the award for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals. “Never Gonna Break My Faith,” Blige’s gospel outing with Aretha Franklin, won for Best Gospel Performance. She was also nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for her song “Just Fine,” but the Grammy went to Alicia Keys for her ubiquitous “No One.” It’s well known that Blige recorded her demo at the Galleria Mall in White Plains. Now she’s up there collaborating with some of the biggest voices in the business, so who says the Galleria is only good for the H&M?

We also had some notable near-wins at the awards. (I’d hate to call them losers.) Bedford’s Stanley Tucci, who co-acted in audiobook The One And Only Shrek with Meryl Streep, was nominated in the Best Spoken Word Album For Children category. They were beaten out by the Unbreakable Charm of J.K. Rowling: Jim Dale’s Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows took home the award.

Much has already been made of the adult Best Spoken Word Album category: Bill Clinton and his audiobook for Giving, our local horse in the race, was beaten out by Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope. Is this a foreshadowing of things to come? I doubt it. I don’t think we yet live in a world where Grammys can predict future elections—after all, Pat Metheny, as far as I know, hasn’t held public office yet—and the thought of it is just too horrible to imagine.

See the list of complete winners here. Did I miss a Westchester resident buried among the Best Tejano, Hawaiian, or Polka Album categories? Let me know in the comments.

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