Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Winehouse rules Grammys, Soweto choir wins award

British pop singer Amy Winehouse, whose rapid descent from promising newcomer to emaciated junkie played out in the full glare of the public eye last year, took home five Grammy awards on Sunday.

But jazz veteran Herbie Hancock was the shock winner of the coveted album of the year award, preventing Winehouse from enjoying a historic clean sweep.

Winehouse (24) did win the key awards for record and song of the year for her hit tune Rehab, as well as best new artist. Her haul was rounded out by the female pop vocal solo performance for Rehab, and pop vocal album for Back to Black, her breakthrough release.

Hip-hop star Kanye West (30) who led all Grammy contenders with eight nominations, ended up with four awards. He was hoping for his first album of the year win, after losing with his two previous releases.

Yet it was Hancock who claimed the best album Grammy for River: The Joni Letters, a tribute to Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. He also won the contemporary jazz album Grammy, bringing his career haul to 12. Virtually no one among the Grammy pundits had expected him to take the big prize. Even his nomination was a surprise.

”What a beautiful day this is in Los Angeles,” Hancock said, as he took the stage at the Staples Centre to pick up the album of the year award. ”Joni Mitchell, Joni Mitchell, Joni Mitchell, thank you so much.”

He said it was 43 years since a jazz artist won the album of the year award: Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto’s Getz/Gilberto.

Mitchell, coincidentally, won a pop instrumental Grammy for One Week Last Summer.

Even without album of the year, Winehouse savoured a stunning comeback. She entered a London rehab clinic last month after a long battle with drugs and alcohol. Just three weeks ago she was filmed appearing to be smoking crack cocaine at a party.

Because of the rehab — and problems getting a US work visa — Winehouse performed two songs live via satellite from a London venue. She performed confidently, offering a few sly grins.

Second win for Soweto Gospel Choir

Meanwhile, the Soweto Gospel Choir won a second Grammy for their album African Spirit. This is the second time in a row the group has scooped top accolades in the best traditional world music category.

Lucas Bok, the musical director of the album, as well as founder member Shimmy Jiyane, were called to the stage to accept the award.

”Soweto Gospel Choir is absolutely thrilled to have won a Grammy for the second time. It was so special to win last year, but twice in a row, is more than we ever could have hoped for,” said one of the group’s members.

”We are particularly excited as it shows that the level of our music has stayed consistently high, and this has been recognised by our peers. We hope we can continue to make South Africa proud.” – Sapa, Reuters

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Coko vs S ruling: The case against a subjective test...

Acting judge Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s acquittal of a rape suspect has raised controversy, but legal experts say the fault lay with legislators and not the court

DA’s egregious sexual harassment case finally begins

The party is accused of protecting a councillor, who’s also implicated in R1.2m graft

More top stories

Coko vs S ruling: The case against a subjective test...

Acting judge Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s acquittal of a rape suspect has raised controversy, but legal experts say the fault lay with legislators and not the court

Defend journalists and media freedom in Eswatini

Journalists are censored through cruel and illegitimate detention, torture and the removal of means to disseminate information to citizens crying – and dying – for it

It’s safe to open the beaches, says UPL after chemical...

Agrochemical producer UPL said it has paid R250-million in chemical spill clean-up

Former spy boss Fraser objects to Zondo’s nomination as chief...

The former director general of intelligence’s character assassination of the deputy chief justice is straight out of the Zuma playbook

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…