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Entertainment
Grammy Awards 2019: Ladies rule and Childish Gambino makes history
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Grammy Awards 2019: Ladies rule and Childish Gambino makes history

2019 Grammy Awards Red Carpet Arrivals

Grammy Awards 2019: Ladies rule and Childish Gambino makes history

In her elegant aqua and pink head wrap – and still makeup free – Alicia Keys immediately set the tone for this year’s Grammy Awards with a simple statement: “Music is so powerful.”

The first-time host, an artist whose soul is clearly and genuinely consumed with music, also unveiled the second theme of the 61st annual Grammy Awards in its opening minutes: This was going to be a ladies’ night.

>> On AJC.com: Grammy Awards 2019: Georgia shines in early categories

Or, as best new artist winner Dua Lipa cheekily commented, “I guess this year we really stepped up,” a nod to a controversial comment made backstage last year by outgoing Recording Academy President Neil Portnow. 

Country darling Kacey Musgraves swept her four categories, including the prestigious album of the year, for her lauded “Golden Hour.” 

“Life is pretty tumultuous right now for all of us, and because of that, art is really thriving and it’s been beautiful to see that,” she said from the stage. 

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Kacey Musgraves accepts the Best Country Album award for 'Golden Hour' onstage during the 61st annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles, California.
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Grammy Awards 2019: Ladies rule and Childish Gambino makes history

Photo Credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Kacey Musgraves accepts the Best Country Album award for 'Golden Hour' onstage during the 61st annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles, California.

Lady Gaga, who slayed her performance of “Shallow” by tweaking it into a sequined-studded rock anthem, won a trio of awards, while H.E.R. picked up a pair for best R&B album (“H.E.R.”) and best R&B performance (“Best Part”).

Brandi Carlile received long overdue accolades by earning three awards during the earlier Premiere Ceremony – and later unleashed a striking rendition of “The Joke,” her powerful defense of the under-represented.

>> On AJC.com: Grammy Awards 2019: Dallas Austin talks 21 Savage, Super Bowl at Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala

Backstage, she credited Janelle Monae – who went home empty-handed, but presented one of the most scintillating performances of the ceremony with her saucy “Make Me Feel” – with helping her overcome some stage fright.

“I got out there and was so freaking nervous. I looked out and saw one person with total peace on her face and it was Janelle Monae,” she said. “I lost my nervousness and I sang it to her. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.”

And Cardi B, accompanied by husband Offset of Migos, was visibly overwhelmed by her first-ever Grammy win (best rap album) for “Invasion of Privacy.” She’s also the first solo female to score the award.

“Ooh, the nerves are so bad,” she said.

Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Cardi B, left, accepts the award for best rap album for "Invasion of Privacy" as Offset kisses her hand at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles.
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Grammy Awards 2019: Ladies rule and Childish Gambino makes history

Photo Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Cardi B, left, accepts the award for best rap album for "Invasion of Privacy" as Offset kisses her hand at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles.

Donald Glover's alter ego, Childish Gambino, earned four more trophies to add to last year’s inaugural Grammy, including the marquee record and song of the year categories for “This Is America.” It’s the first time a rap song has won record and song of the year.

Gambino was conspicuously absent at this year’s ceremony (he performed last year), so his awards were accepted by co-writer and producer Ludwig Göransson, engineer/mixer Derek Ali and mastering engineer Mike Bozzi.

>> On AJC.com: Grammy Awards 2019: Dolly Parton honored by Garth Brooks, Miley Cyrus, Linda Ronstadt and more as MusiCares Person of the Year

Göransson gave a shout-out to rapper 21 Savage – nominated for two awards with Post Malone – who remains in jail after being arrested Super Bowl Sunday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for allegedly living in the U.S. illegally.

“21 Savage should be here tonight,” Göransson said.

The rapper also received support backstage from England’s Dua Lipa.

“It’s quite upsetting that he hasn’t done anything and he’s given so much to American culture, even being a Brit,” she said. 

Matt Sayles/Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Lady Gaga, from left, Jada Pinkett Smith, Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez speak at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles.
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Grammy Awards 2019: Ladies rule and Childish Gambino makes history

Photo Credit: Matt Sayles/Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Lady Gaga, from left, Jada Pinkett Smith, Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez speak at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles.

At the start of the 3 ½-hour telecast from the Staples Center, Keys introduced her “sisters” – Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, former first lady Michelle Obama (who received an enthusiastic standing ovation) and Jennifer Lopez – who flanked her to share their valentines to music.

“Music took my ears, took my hands, my voice and my soul and it led me to all of you,” said Gaga.

“Music is the one place we can all feel truly free,” said Lopez, who would later silence critics with a fiery exhibition of Motown hits with Smokey Robinson, Ne-Yo and Keys.

>> On AJC.com: Grammy Awards 2019: William DuVall, Alex Sparrow check out Pre-Grammy lounge

“Every voice we hear deserves to be honored and respected,” added Smith.

And from Obama: “Music helps us share ourselves. Our dignity, sorrows, hopes and joys. Music shows us that all of it matters.”

While at times the show felt a bit overstuffed, its determination to please multiple generations signaled a refreshing representation of veterans to upstarts. A pleasant tribute to Dolly Parton (her goddaughter Miley Cyrus, Musgraves, Little Big Town and Katy Perry); Diana Ross (celebrating her 75th birthday a month early); and a potent memorial to Aretha Franklin (Fantasia, Yolanda Adams and Andra Day singing “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”) melded styles and big names.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Janelle Monae didn’t win any awards, but she turned in a memorable performance of “Make Me Feel.”
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Grammy Awards 2019: Ladies rule and Childish Gambino makes history

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Janelle Monae didn’t win any awards, but she turned in a memorable performance of “Make Me Feel.”

Performance highlights were numerous, with H.E.R. impressing with a fizzy electric guitar melded with a gospel choir on “Hard Place” and Keys’ dual-piano medley of songs she wished she’d written (Roberta Flack, Kings of Leon) resurrecting the familiar. 

One of the only light controversies of the show came when Drake, making a rare Grammy appearance, was cut off during his speech after winning best rap song (“God’s Plan”).

>> Read more trending news 

“This is a business,” he said from the stage. “You’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs; if you’re a hero in your hometown; if there’s people who have regular jobs who come out to see you in the rain in the snow – you don’t need this,” he said, holding up his Grammy.

Producers then cut to a commercial. 

The explanation backstage was that Drake had taken a “natural pause,” and producers didn’t realize he was still talking. He was given the opportunity to return to the stage to finish his speech, but, “Drake said he was happy with what he said.”

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The Latest News Headlines

  • Officials say an arrest has been made in the 1984 hijacking of Trans World Airlines Flight 847. CNN reported that Greek police said a suspect was stopped Thursday during a routine security check. His description matched those on a German warrant for his arrest, which was for a 1987 kidnapping. The Associated Press reported he was arrested on the Greek island of Mykonos. >> Read more trending news  On June 14, 1985, TWA Flight 847 took off from Cairo to San Diego. Planned en route stops included Athens, Rome, Boston and Los Angeles, but it was hijacked soon after takeoff from Athens. The hijackers attacked U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, beating him unconscious before they shot and killed him, the AP reported. CNN reported the terrorists dumped his body onto the tarmac in Beirut, which was captured by TV cameras and photographers. The other 146 passengers on the plane were held as hostages and some of them were beaten, CNN reported. Over 17 days, the terrorists, who CNN reported were militants with possible links to Hezbollah, released them in stages. The AP reported the last hostage was released on day 17. 'The suspect denies any involvement in the hijacking,' police spokesman Theodoros Chronopoulos told CNN. 'He has been remanded in custody on the island of Syros and is to be transferred to a high security prison in Athens.' According to the AP, multiple Greek outlets identified the detainee as Mohammed Ali Hammadi, 65, an alleged Hezbollah member. He was arrested in Frankfurt in 1987 and convicted in Germany for the hijacking and Stethem’s death, the AP reported. He was sentenced to life in prison but paroled in 2005. He went back to Lebanon upon getting parole. 'Germany had resisted pressure to extradite him to the United States after Hezbollah abducted two German citizens in Beirut and threatened to kill them,' the AP reported. Hammadi and another hijacker in the incident, Hasan Izz-Al-Din, and accomplice Ali Atwa are on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists to this day, the outlet reported.
  • As the city prepares to demolish the Jacksonville Landing, a team is working to salvage some of the items inside. The biggest item Annie Murphy and her team at Eco Relics have salvaged so far from the building is the bar top from Hooters. It's for sale at their shop on Stockton Street.  'We're all about keeping stuff out of landfills, that's our mission,' Murphy said.  They expect to salvage up to 160 items from the iconic landmark before it is torn down, from doors and windows to artwork and lighting.  'It is really cool to see people recognizing certain things, longtime Jacksonville residents,' Murphy said.  She said they were able to salvage some items inside the buildings along the river earlier this month. They can't access the rest of the building until the last tenant moves out in October.  A city spokesperson said over the next couple of weeks, the contractor will be stripping out items not attached to the building structure and then heavy equipment will begin the demolition.  It's expected to be complete by June 2020.  Murphy said the pieces of Jacksonville history her team pulls from the building will be for sale as they're salvaged.
  • A North Carolina sheriff stands accused of urging the murder of a former deputy who had a recording of him using racially offensive language, authorities say. Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday on two counts of felony obstruction of justice, according to court records. Wilkins is accused of trying to get another man to kill former Deputy Joshua Freeman, who he believed was going to expose his racist talk. >> Read more trending news  Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who is prosecuting the case, said Wilkins' Aug. 12, 2014, phone conversation with the 'well-known' man who threatened Joshua Freeman's life was caught on tape, according to The News & Observer in Raleigh. Lorrin Freeman and Joshua Freeman are not related. Joshua Freeman worked for the Sheriff's Office from November 2011 to August 2014 but was let go in the days leading up to Wilkins' alleged crimes, WRAL in Raleigh reported. Wilkins, who was reelected in 2018 for a third four-year term, is accused of advising the unnamed man to kill Joshua Freeman, 'whom the defendant knew to have expressed his intention to soon publicly reveal a purported audio recording of the sheriff using racially offensive language to authorities in Raleigh,' the indictment states. The court records do not detail what Wilkins is alleged to have said, or what ultimately happened to the recording of his words. The indictment against the sheriff alleges Wilkins encouraged the man to 'take care of it' and said, 'The only way you gonna stop him is kill him.' According to the indictment, Wilkins counseled the would-be gunman on how to kill Joshua Freeman in a way to avoid getting caught. He offered two tips, according to the document: Get rid of the murder weapon and keep quiet. 'You ain't got the weapon, you ain't got nothing to go on,' Wilkins allegedly told the man, the court records allege. 'The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can't tell nobody nothin', not a thing.' Wilkins and the individual discussed a time in which to kill Joshua Freeman and a location that would ensure it would be Wilkins' own Granville County Sheriff's Office investigators who would get the case, the indictment says. Wilkins assured the man he would not tell investigators of his prior knowledge of the crime. The indictment accuses Wilkins of failing to prevent harm to Joshua Freeman or warn him of the 'credible threat' to his life. It alleges the sheriff also failed to seize the gun the other man planned to use, despite the person showing him the weapon at one point. 'The defendant failed to properly execute his duties because of his personal animosity towards Joshua Freeman,' the indictment states. Joshua Freeman was never harmed, though the indictment offers no indication why the alleged plot failed. Wilkins went before a magistrate Monday and was released on $20,000 unsecured bond. Court records show he was ordered to have no contact with anyone named in the indictment. He was also ordered to surrender his passport, if he has one. Read the indictment against Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins below.  Brindell Wilkins Indictment by National Content Desk on Scribd 'No one is above the law,' Lorrin Freeman said Monday, according to WRAL. 'It is always painful when someone who has the public trust faces these types of allegations for voters who put them in that place. 'Any time you have someone who is sworn to uphold the public trust, to protect their community, to investigate and report crimes, allegedly engage in this type of conduct, it is something that needs to be brought to justice, and so we will continue to follow the evidence in this case.' Several followers of Wilkins' public Facebook page offered support in the wake of the indictment. 'You will always have our support,' one woman wrote. 'Praying for you and your family.' 'Our friendship goes back 30 years or more and you have always been a great friend to me,' another woman wrote. 'You were there for me many times. I believe in you and you have my support, always.' Lorrin Freeman said Wake County is handling the case because Mike Waters, her counterpart in Granville County, could potentially become an important witness at trial. Waters, who addressed the case in a statement on his office's Facebook page, wrote to Lorrin Freeman in November to ask her to look into the case. Watch Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman discuss the case below, courtesy of the News & Observer. WRAL reported that Joshua Freeman, who Waters represented in 2014 while in private practice, gave the future prosecutor the tape recording of Wilkins' conversation with the man who talked of killing the former deputy. It was not clear Friday how Freeman obtained the recording. Waters said he immediately turned the tape over to the FBI. The Washington Post reported that Waters met with North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agents about the recording in January 2017, but nothing happened. 'Quite frankly, it did not get to the top of their investigative list,' Lorrin Freeman told WRAL about SBI agents. Waters gave the recording to a different SBI agent in October 2018, but still, no investigation was initiated, the Post reported. That is when Waters turned to Lorrin Freeman to initiate a probe into the sheriff. She agreed. 'I have reviewed this recording,' Lorrin Freeman wrote to SBI agents, according to the Post. 'It contains a conversation between two individuals, one of whom appears to be the Granville County sheriff, about a former deputy sheriff and culminates in a discussion about committing a homicide.' In his Facebook statement, Waters expressed frustration at the amount of time it took to get an investigation going. 'At all times since (turning over the recording), I have provided assistance to investigators, and once Ms. Freeman opened a criminal investigation, have urged that this matter be given investigative priority,' Waters wrote. 'I understand it is a matter of great importance to the people of Granville County, and it has been a point of frustration that the investigative process has not been more expeditious.' He wrote that any allegations of wrongdoing by law enforcement are troubling, particularly when they involve a sheriff elected by the community. 'Over the next few months, my office will continue to lend assistance to the ongoing investigation as requested, while we continue to do our daily work of protecting victims, prosecuting those who violate the law and seeing that justice is administered,' Waters said. WRAL reported Lorrin Freeman said she worked to obtain obstruction charges against Wilkins because obstruction would be easier to prove in the five-year old case than solicitation of murder or conspiracy. The Granville County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to discuss the indictment, but County Attorney Jim Wrenn said the board has no authority to remove Wilkins, an elected official, from office as his criminal case winds its way through the court system, WRAL reported. Lorrin Freeman confirmed that fact to the News & Observer. 'Technically, he can continue to serve if he chooses, until convicted,' Freeman told the newspaper. Spectrum News' Charlotte bureau reported that Wilkins has indicated he will not step down. Wrenn said he is considering trying to get Wilkins out of office through the courts but wants to hear the recording himself before making that decision. Gerry Cohen, former special counsel to the North Carolina General Assembly, said state law has a provision allowing a judge to suspend a sheriff and allow a county commission to appoint a temporary replacement pending the outcome of a criminal case. 'The statute is there to allow removal of sheriff,' Cohen told Spectrum News. 'One of six causes is, in fact, conviction of felony. Others are some of the things in his indictment, like willful misconduct, corruption, willful neglect or refusal to perform duties of his office. Some of them match the charges in his indictment.' The News & Observer reported that the probe into Wilkins' alleged actions against Joshua Freeman has led to investigations of the Granville County Sheriff's Office's accounting practices, as well as the operations of its drug unit. Freeman was a member of the drug unit when he was with the agency. 'Part of this investigation has centered on why this sort of conversation would have occurred, what the underlying motivation would have been,' Lorrin Freeman said Tuesday, according to the newspaper. 'Additional information has come to light regarding operations and accounting practices of the Granville County narcotics interdiction team.' Those investigations remain ongoing.
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In it, Biden describes Trump's alleged behavior as 'abhorrent' and calls on him to release a full transcript of the call 'so that the American people can be judged for themselves.' The entire statement reads: Update 4:40 p.m. EDT Sept 20: The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The Journal reported Trump asked Zelensky to work with Rudy Giuliani to determine whether Biden 'worked to shield from investigation a Ukrainian gas company with ties to his son, Hunter Biden.'  Trump made the request about eight times during a phone call in July, according to the Journal. Trump was asked Friday if be brought up Biden in the call with Zelenskiy, and he answered, 'It doesn't matter what I discussed.' But then he used the moment to urge the media 'to look into' Biden's background with Ukraine. Trump and Zelenskiy are to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations next week. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the person behind the complaint filed against him was a 'partisan whistleblower' who 'shouldn't even have information,' though he added that he did not know the person's identity. 'I don't even know exactly who you're talking about,' Trump said. 'I don't know the identity of the whistleblower. I just hear it's a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party.' Trump said Friday that he's spoken with several world leaders and that his conversations with them were 'always appropriate.' Details surrounding the complaint remained unclear Friday afternoon, though The Washington Post and The New York Times reported at least some of the allegations centered on Ukraine. Both newspapers cited unidentified sources. Asked if he knew if the whistleblower's complaint centered on a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the president responded 'I really don't know' but continued to insist any phone call he made with a head of state was 'perfectly fine and respectful.' Update 9:50 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: The whistleblower complaint against Donald Trump centers around Ukraine, two anonymous sources confirmed to The Washington Post Thursday evening. The New York Times and ABC News are also citing anonymous sources, saying the complaint involves Ukraine. It's not clear exactly how Ukraine fits into the allegations. However, Trump spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, the Post reported. That call was already under investigation by House Democrats, who are looking into whether Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, tried to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping with Trump's re-election campaign, according to The Post. Update 1:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 19:  The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee suggested Thursday that lawmakers could ask a judge to compel White House officials to share with Congress a whistleblower complaint allegedly filed last month against Trump. The complaint was filed Aug. 12 and involved an undisclosed 'promise' made by the president to an unidentified foreign leader, CNN reported Atkinson declined to share details of the complaint during a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, citing a lack of authorization. 'We do know that the Department of Justice has been involved in the decision to withhold that information from Congress,' Schiff told reporters Thursday. 'We do not know -- because we cannot get an answer to the question -- about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress.' He said lawmakers had yet to see the complaint by Thursday afternoon. 'We do not know whether press reports are accurate or inaccurate about the contents of the complaint,' he said. Earlier Thursday, the president denied having done anything inappropriate. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: Trump on Thursday denied any wrongdoing after reports claimed a whistleblower had come forward with a complaint about the president making an unspecified promise to a foreign leader. 'Another Fake News story out there - it never ends!' Trump wrote Thursday in a tweet. 'Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. 'Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially 'heavily populated' call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!' Original report: The promise occurred during a phone conversation with the leader, one source told the Post. Details about the alleged pledge and the leader's identity was not immediately available. Although Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general, believed that the whistleblower complaint warranted 'urgent concern,' acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire so far has declined to provide information about the communication to the House Intelligence Committee, the Post reported. A closed hearing with Atkinson is slated for Thursday, the committee said. Maguire is expected to testify publicly Sept. 26, according to the committee's chairman, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A Massachusetts man in his 70s has died after contracting Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, state health officials said Friday. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said the man was a resident of Freetown, a town about 50 miles south of Boston, according to WFXT. 'Our most sincere sympathy, thoughts and prayers go out to the victim, to their family and their loved ones,' town officials said in a news release. The man was identified as having the 10th confirmed human case of EEE in the state. Officials said eight other cases of EEE have been confirmed in animals, including seven horses and a goat. The man's death was the second reported in the state from EEE. At least two other EEE-related deaths have been reported in recent weeks in Rhode Island and Michigan. 'We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites,' Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said Friday in a news release. “The unusually warm weather expected this weekend will increase outdoor activity among people and mosquitoes. It is absolutely essential that people take steps to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.” Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said several cases of EEE are reported each year, most often in states along the Gulf Coast. The mosquito-borne virus is rare, but serious, and can affect people of all ages, Massachusetts health officials said. Boston25News.com contributed to this report.

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