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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And now let's catch up on the Grammy Awards. The British singer Adele was the big winner taking home all six Grammys for which she was nominated. There's a photograph you can find at NPR.org of her trying to clutch them all.

But as NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, the 54th annual awards ceremony was almost as notable for those who were not there.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Adele Adkins swept the top three categories: Song, Record and Album of the Year, and while that wasn't much of a surprise, her performance last night was.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

(SOUNDBITE OF PERFORMANCE)

ADELE ADKINS: (Singing) We could have had it all. Rolling in the deep...

DEL BARCO: Just months after having surgery on her vocal chords, Adele accepted the Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance.

ADKINS: Seeing as it's a vocal performance, I need to thank my doctors, I suppose.

DEL BARCO: After picking up award after award over the course of the evening, Adele seemed astounded, gave a thumbs up, and finally broke into tears as she accepted Album of the Year.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ADKINS: Oh. Hello. I just, first of all, I want to say, Mom, your girl did good. Mom, I love you. I'm so sorry you're not here.

DEL BARCO: Adele was followed by Foo Fighters, who picked up five Grammies and Kanye West, who shared in four. Indie rocker Justin Vernon, also known as Bon Iver, won this year's award for Best New Artist.

JUSTIN VERNON: It's really hard to accept this award. But - well, there's so much talent out here, like on this stage, and there's a lot of talent that's not here.

DEL BARCO: While Vernon was likely referring to the countless unnamed bands that will never get the Recording Academy's attention, he may just as well have been addressing a crowd of protesters outside the Staples Center.

(SOUNDBITE OF SINGING PROTESTERS)

DEL BARCO: About two dozen musicians were protesting the Recording Academy's decision to eliminate 31 categories from consideration this year, including Latin Jazz, Cajun, zydeco, Mariachi, Hawaiian, and some jazz and blues categories.

Musicians Bobby Sanabria and John Santos said these are the less commercial, ethnic genres produced by independent labels.

BOBBY SANABRIA: The fact that 150 artists can't be nominated, they don't have the chance to get that Grammy bump in terms of recognition, notoriety, affirmation.

JOHN SANTOS: And it doesn't really matter if it's arrogance or ignorance or racism, or a combination of all three. Whatever it is, it's very wrong and it have to be changed.

DEL BARCO: The Academy is facing a lawsuit over the changes. And Sanabria and Santos noted that the late Whitney Houston got her start in one of the genres that saw cuts - gospel.

The six-time Grammy winner died the afternoon before the ceremony. She was just 48 years old.

LL COOL J: Heavenly Father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us.

DEL BARCO: Grammy host LL Cool J offered a prayer for Houston during his opening remarks.

LL COOL J: And although she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit and to have her lasting legacy of music to cherish and share forever. Amen.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Amen.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: Alicia Keyes and Stevie Wonder paid tribute. And with a simple piano accompaniment, Jennifer Hudson, who received a Grammy from Houston three years ago, sang one of the late star's best known songs.

JENNIFER HUDSON: (Singing) And I, ooh, I will always love you. I will always love you...

DEL BARCO: Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, Los Angeles.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

HUDSON: (Singing) Whitney, we love, we love you.

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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