Jon Batiste won album-of-the-year honours for “We Are” at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, giving him five trophies on a night that saw the ‘70s funk of Silk Sonic take record of the year and song of the year and newcomer Olivia Rodrigo take three awards.
Batiste honoured the artists he beat. “The creative arts are subjective,” he said. “Be you.”
The multi-genre performer also won for his song “Cry,” the video for “Freedom” and his work with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the soundtrack for “Soul.”
“I just put my head down and I work on the craft every day. I love music,” he said.
The R&B supergroup Silk Sonic took home four awards, including record of the year. Olivia Rodrigo collected three trophies, including the coveted best new artist honour.
Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak were exuberant as they accepted the honour toward the end of the ceremony. The win puts Mars in historic company again: He becomes the only artist along with Paul Simon to take home the award three times.
“We are really trying our hardest to remain humble at this point,” .Paak said. “But in the industry, they call that a clean sweep!” later adding “drinks is on Silk Sonic tonight!”
The win came after the night’s festivities grew grim when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the gathering with an update on the war and his numbers included children injured and killed. “Our musicians wear body armour instead of tuxedos,” he said. “We are fighting Russia, which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music.”
He ended by saying: “Tell the truth about the war on your social networks, on TV. Support us in any way you can any, but not silence. And then peace will come to all our cities.”
John Legend then performed “Free” with Ukrainian exiles including singer-actress Mika Newton and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk.
Rodrigo’s win for best new artist putting her in esteemed company including Carly Simon, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Tom Jones, the Beatles and Billie Eilish.
A veteran of the “High School Musical” series, Rodrigo became the breakout music star of 2021, leading with her massive viral hit “Drivers License” and following with the single “Good 4 U” and the aching album “Sour,” which took best pop vocal album.
“This is my biggest dream come true,” she said after her best new artist win. She thanked her parents for supporting her dreams, which at one point involved being an Olympic gymnast and quickly veered toward music.
“I want to thank my mom for being so supportive for all of my dreams, no matter how crazy. I want to thank my mom and dad for being equally as proud of me for winning a Grammy as they were when I learned how to do a back walk.”
Silk Sonic – the all-star union of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak – opened the Grammys in Las Vegas with their high-energy, infectious fix of retro soul and funk by performing their “777.” They returned to the stage a short time later to collect the song of the year trophy for “Leave the Door Open.”
The win helps Mars tie the record for most song of the year wins. He had previously won for “24K Magic.”
Both Mars and .Paak jumped out their seat, threw up their hands and dance to their song.
“I couldn’t be more proud to be doing this with than anyone other than you,” Mars said to .Paak. “We’ll be singing this song together for the rest of our lives.”
Host Trevor Noah introduced the duo’s opening performance by saying they were single-handedly bringing back the 1970s, “which might explain the inflation.”
By the time the show started on CBS, Jon Batiste has already taken home four Grammy Awards, including his first ever. Batiste won for best American roots performance, best American roots song, best music video and tied with Carlos Rafael Rivera for best score soundtrack for visual media. His song “Freedom” in the music video category beat out several other tough competitors, including Rodrigo, Lil Nas X and Eilish. All the honours were handed out during a pre-telecast ceremony.
“I am so grateful for the gifts that God has given me and the ability to share that for the love of humankind,” Batiste said. “We just wanted everyone to see it. Any depression, any bondage or any darkness that was over your life is completely removed by just the love and the joy of the video.”
It’s the first tie since 2019 when Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future and James Blake tied with Anderson .Paak to win best rap performance.
Batiste entered the Grammys as the leading nominee with 11 nominations. The losses halted the multi-talented performer from making history for most wins in one night.
It was a family affair from cousins Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar, who won best rap performance for their song “Family Ties.” Lamar won his 14th Grammy and the first for Keem, who said “nothing could have prepared me for this moment” after stepping out onstage to claim his trophy.
Chris Stapleton won his third Grammy for best country solo performance for “You Should Probably Leave.” He extended his record for the most wins.
Dressed in all black, BTS took the stage with a flirty moment between V and Rodrigo before the group performed their hit single “Butter.” The made an appearance after one of the members tested positive for COVID-19. All seven of the members – Jin, Jimin, V, RM, J-Hope, Suga and Jungkook – acted as if they were secret agents with neon-blue lasers, dancing with smooth choreography before going into a brief rap portion of the song.
Foo Fighters won three awards Sunday, but were not in attendance to pick up their trophies following the recent death of its drummer Taylor Hawkins. An extended tribute to Hawkins played before the show’s In Memorium segment honouring artists and music industry figures who’ve died.
Eilish paid homage to Hawkins during her performance by sporting a black T-shirt with his image. She stepped onstage in an upside-down house along with her brother Finneas before stepping into the rain to perform the title track from her “Happier Than Ever.”
TJ Osborne, who came out as gay last year, fought back tears as he and his brother accepted a Grammy for the Brothers Osborn song “Younger Me.” He noted the song was inspired by his coming out.
“I never thought that I would be able to do music professionally because of my sexuality. And I certainly never thought I would be here on the stage accepting a Grammy after having done something I felt like was going to be life changing and potentially in a very negative way,” Osborne said.
“And here I am tonight, not only accepting this Grammy Award with my brother, which I love so much, but I’m here with a man that I love and he loves me back. ... I don’t know what I did be so lucky.”
Eilish could become the first artist ever to win record of the year three times in a row, and the only artist along with Paul Simon to take home the award three times. She’s in position to join Adele as the only artists to ever win three major categories – record, song and album of the year – twice. She previously won for “Bad Guy” and “Everything I Wanted.”
The ceremony shifted from Los Angeles to Las Vegas because of rising COVID-19 cases and the omicron variant in January, with organizers citing “too many risks” to hosting the performance-filled show at the time.
Artists competing with Eilish for album of the year include Rodrigo, Batiste, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, H.E.R., Taylor Swift, Lil Nas X and Kanye West.
Bennett extended his record as the artist with the most traditional pop vocal album with 14 wins with “Love for Sale,” a duet album with Lady Gaga.
Sign up for The Globe’s arts and lifestyle newsletters for more news, columns and advice in your inbox.