LOS ANGELES — Country artist Kacey Musgraves won album of the year for Golden Hour, while “This is America” by Childish Gambino won both record and song of the year at the 61st Grammy Awards on Sunday in a breakthrough for rap at the most prestigious honors in the music business.
British pop singer Dua Lipa was named best new artist and popular rapper Cardi B won her first Grammy, taking best rap album for Invasion of Privacy.
Gambino’s searing “This is America,” about police brutality and racism, became the first hip-hop track to win record and song of the year Grammys, while Drake made a surprise appearance to accept the Grammy for best rap song for “God’s Plan.”
“This is America” also took Grammys for best music video and best rap performance.
Before Sunday the Grammys had frequently shut out hip-hop artists from its top prizes, despite rap’s dominance as the biggest music genre in the US.
Only two albums by hip-hop artists have ever won the album of the year Grammy — Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999, and Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004.
Gambino, alter ego of actor Donald Glover, as well as Canadian rapper Drake and Kendrick Lamar, were among several influential stars who were no shows at the biggest night in music.
Their absence was seen as a snub of an awards show that has often shut hip-hop artists out of its top prizes, despite rap’s dominance as the biggest music genre in the US.
Ms. Musgraves also won for best country album, song, and country solo performance.
Lady Gaga’s hit song “Shallow” from the movie A Star is Born won two Grammys, while the musician-turned actress took a third Grammy home for her “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Going),” which won for pop solo performance.
An absent Ariana Grande, who pulled out of the show last week after a dispute with producers, won her first Grammy, best pop vocal album for Sweetener.
“This is wild and beautiful. Thank you so much,” Ms. Grande tweeted.
Grammy organizers this year expanded the top four categories — album, record, song of the year, and best new artist — to eight nominees from five in a bid to diversify the contest.
This year’s Grammy nominees were dominated by women and the awards show, hosted by Alicia Keys, reflected that with rousing performances by Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus, Janelle Monae, Katy Perry, and Musgraves.
The Grammys sprung a surprise by including Obama in an opening segment that also featured Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, actress Jada Pinkett Smith and host Alicia Keys talking about the power of music. — Reuters