LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
And last night was a big night for live music at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss were the big winners. They won Album of the Year, Record of the Year for their song "Please Read the Letter," plus three other honors. And some of the biggest news happened offstage. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.
MANDALIT DEL BARCO: It was an unusual pairing: Former Led Zeppelin rocker Robert Plant and bluegrass fiddler and singer Alison Krauss.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "PLEASE READ THE LETTER")
ROBERT PLANT: (Singing) Please read the letter, I nailed it to your door. It's crazy how it all turned it when you needed so much more.
DEL BARCO: The demure Krauss only spoke once last night when she and Plant accepted the Album of the Year award.
KRAUSS: It's been a wonderful time, and especially Robert, who is - there's never a dull moment.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
PLANT: I'd like to say I'm bewildered. In the old days, we would have called it selling out, but I think it's a good way to spend a Sunday.
DEL BARCO: It was an emotional Sunday for singer Jennifer Hudson. Less than four months ago, her mother, brother and nephew were murdered. Last night, the former American Idol contestant and Oscar winner fought back tears as she picked up her first Grammy for Best R&B Album.
JENNIFER HUDSON: I first would like to thank God, who has brought me through. I would like to thank my family in heaven and those who are here today.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)
DEL BARCO: It was Hudson's second public performance since the tragedy. Later in the program, the words of the song "You Pulled Me Through" told her story.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "YOU PULLED ME THROUGH")
HUDSON: (Singing) In the darkness, I was out in the cold. Seemed nothing could heal these holes in my soul.
DEL BARCO: The Grammy ceremony was, for the most part, relentlessly upbeat. Members of the British band Coldplay bounded on stage wearing blue, purple, green and red jackets.
WILL CHAMPION: I'd like to say, first of all, thank you and sorry to Sir Paul McCartney for blatantly recycling the "Sgt. Pepper" outfits.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
DEL BARCO: What Coldplay did not admit recycling was the song of the year. "Viva La Vida" is the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VIVA LA VIDA")
CHRIS MARTIN: (Singing) I used to rule the world, seas would rise when I gave the word.
DEL BARCO: In December, guitarist Joe Satriani filed a suite in the federal court, alleging the band ripped off his 2004 instrumental "If I Could Fly."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IF I COULD FLY")
DEL BARCO: Satriani may have a tough time proving it. Some online music lovers have pointed out similarities between his tune and a 2002 release by the Argentine group Enanitos Verdes.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FRANCES LIMON")
DEL BARCO: But like the charges of plagiarism, the biggest news of the night went unmentioned during the telecast. Just as the ceremony was getting underway, the popular 19-year-old R&B singer Chris Brown was turning himself in to Los Angeles police for allegedly assaulting a woman early Sunday morning. Brown was scheduled to perform, as was his girlfriend Rihanna. Both canceled at the last minute, leading to a lot of speculation and a mad scramble by Grammy organizers. The head of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, said the Grammies have a never faced a situation like this.
NEIL PORTNOW: Everybody has certain problems at times in their lives, things that maybe you wish didn't happen, maybe you're not proud of. I'm sorry that they weren't there for their moments on the stage. I think that's the thing that is most unfortunate to me at the moment.
DEL BARCO: Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.