Kanye West, Amy Winehouse Lead Grammy Field
First Published: February 10, 2008 4:03 PM EST Credit: Associated Press
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Kanye West is nominated for a leading eight Grammy awards and has a history, good or bad, of creating memorable awards show moments. But the superstar rapper and producer may be upstaged on Grammy night by another nominee who's not even able to attend Sunday's ceremony.
Troubled British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, up for six awards including album of the year for her "Back to Black" album, is due to perform via satellite from her home country, where she is currently being treated in a rehabilitation center for substance abuse.
In the days leading up to the ceremony, suspense was building whether the 24-year-old, whose personal life has fallen apart over the past year as her career blossomed, would be at the ceremony in any form. It was unclear whether she'd be well enough to take a break from rehab to attend; then, it was unclear whether the United States would grant her a work visa to appear.
After she was initially rejected for the visa this week, Grammy producers arranged for her to perform via telecast. Soon afterward, the U.S. government reversed itself and approved Winehouse, but it was too late in the week at that point to make the cross-continental trek.
Winehouse is only behind West for the most nominations on the night. The retro-soul singer's top-selling American debut is not only up for album of the year, but song and record of the year for her autobiographical, sassy hit "Rehab," about her refusal to undergo treatment. Though the album was a critical and commercial breakthrough for her, her personal troubles, which made regular tabloid headlines, threatened to overshadow her music.
In any other year, it would likely be West who would be the main story line going into Grammy week. He too is up for album of the year for "Graduation," which had the best-selling debut of last year with almost one million copies sold in the first week alone. This is West's third album and the third time he has been nominated for album of the year.
While he has won a handful of Grammys, they have been in the rap categories, where the bulk of his nominations are this year as well. West has provided stirring awards show performances, but has also been known to go on a tirade when he has not won what he thought he deserved, perhaps most notably at last year's MTV Video Music Awards.
Late last year, he suffered a traumatic loss when his mother and manager Donda West died after complications of plastic surgery. West, whose mother was often with him at awards ceremonies, is due to perform on Sunday's broadcast.
Besides West and Winehouse, the other album of the year contenders were the Foo Fighters' "Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace," Vince Gill's "These Days," and Herbie Hancock's "River: The Joni Letters."
For record of the year, Winehouse's "Rehab" is competing against Beyonce's "Irreplaceable," Rihanna's "Umbrella," "The Pretender" by the Foo Fighters and Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around … Comes Around."
Among the broadcast's scheduled performances were Beyonce with rock goddess Tina Turner; Rihanna with The Time; Aretha Franklin, Josh Groban, Alicia Keys with John Mayer and Carrie Underwood.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Grammys. But the Hollywood writer's strike had threatened disrupt the telecast when the Writers Guild of America indicated they might not grant the show a waiver to use writers, leaving the potential of a boycott.
But an interim agreement was reached.
The show will be broadcast live on CBS. The bulk of the 100-plus trophies will be given out in a pre-telecast ceremony.
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