The Queen of Hip Hop Soul: Mary J. Blige, this year’s most nominated artist with eight nods, was tearfully grateful when she stepped on stage to accept the best R&B album trophy for “The Breakthrough.” But Blige’s thank-you list was so long she was nearly cut off. “This is the first time I’ve ever been up here to receive anything,” she said onstage, holding back tears. “For so many years I had been talked about negatively, but this time, I’ve been talked about positively by so many people.” Later, she added, “Success exposes who you really are. I want to use this success to build bridges, not to burn them.” After winning a second award for female R&B vocal performance for “Be Without You,” Blige talked about building bridges with her musical accomplishments. Blige won best R&B song and best female R&B vocal performance for “Be Without You” and best R&B album for “The Breakthrough.” The R&B Generation: Chris Brown, Smokey Robinson and Lionel Richie paid tribute to the R&B genre with a generation-spanning segment that began with Robinson on a sweet, tender “Tracks of My Tears.” Richie was amazing on “Hello,” while playing the piano, and Brown showed off his ultra-modern dance moves and spirited updating of R&B traditions with his hit song “Run It.” Fresh hip-hop: Hip-hop duo Gnarls Barkley (Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse) performed their worldwide hit “Crazy.” Backed by a full orchestra and a huge chorus, the performance was a celebration of one of the biggest rap/R&B songs of the year. Gnarls Barkley picked up Grammys for best urban/alternative performance for “Crazy” and best alternative music album for “St. Elsewhere.” Corinne Bailey Rae, John Legend and John Mayer Equals Hot Collaboration: Rae, in her sweet, delicate voice, began with the tender “Like a Star,” accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. Mayer joined in on electric guitar, then Legend on piano. Legend followed Rae with an also-tender “Coming Home” and Mayer followed Legend with a gentle, blues-tinged “Gravity” played on a battered electric guitar. The collaboration was dreamed up by Grammy Awards co-executive producer Ken Ehrlich, who wanted to provide Grammy viewers with performances they couldn’t see anywhere else. Afterward, Mayer collected the award for best pop vocal album for “Continuum,” while Legend won best male R&B vocal performance for “Heaven” and best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals for “Family Affair” with Joss Stone and Van Hunt. Meanwhile, Timberlake won best dance recording for “SexyBack” featuring Timbaland and best rap/sung collaboration for “My Love” featuring T.I. View some Grammy pics here
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