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Swift, Lamar lead Grammy wins, while The Weeknd and Bieber spotlight Canada

Singer The Weeknd attends The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images for NARAS

Rapper Kendrick Lamar led the Grammy winners on Monday with five wins, but Taylor Swift nabbed album of the year - the night's top prize - in an upset victory.

Swift took home three awards out of her seven nominations, including best pop vocal album for "1989", the world's best-selling album of 2014.

Compton, California rapper Lamar went into the awards with 11 nominations, and had looked on course to take album of the year for his critically-acclaimed "To Pimp A Butterfly."

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But it was country-turned-pop artist Swift who won, and delivered an acceptance speech about female empowerment.


It was a night of career firsts for Canadian artists at the Grammy Awards.

A thunderous year of chart-topping hits culminated at the music industry's biggest awards show on Monday as both Justin Bieber and the Weeknd walked away as winners.

Most of the praise they received wasn't part of the big prime time show, but played out instead at a pre-telecast ceremony streamed live on the Grammys website.

Neither performer attended the smaller event.

Bieber scored the best dance recording honour as part of a collaboration with Skrillex and Diplo on the song "Where Are U Now."

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The Weeknd, a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye, nabbed two golden gramophones before the televised show.

He took home one for best urban contemporary album for "Beauty Behind the Madness" and another for best R&B performance for "Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)" from the original soundtrack for the film "Fifty Shades Of Grey."

Their absence at the earlier showcase, where about 70 awards are handed out in less prominent categories, wasn't surprising. Performers will often attend the red carpet ceremony over the smaller event, which is held at a different venue.

Canadian acts collectively had more than 20 nominations, capping off a sensational year in which Canucks commanded seven of the top 10 spots on the Billboard Hot 100.

The Weeknd was nominated for a total of seven Grammys and appeared to have plenty of support from his peers in the music industry.

As the televised portion of the ceremony got underway, the Weeknd performed a medley of "Can't Feel My Face" and "In the Night" sharply dressed in a tuxedo, as Canadian songwriter and composer Stephan Moccio played piano.

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Adele was quick to jump to her feet with a standing ovation, clearly thinking he earned it.

Canadians had nabbed five Grammys by the final stretch of the show.

Bieber's Grammy-winning song "Where Are U Now" also appears on an album that was honoured by the Grammys. The Skrillex and Diplo collaboration, released under the moniker Jack U, won best dance/electronic album.

About halfway through the show Bieber hit the stage with the two producers for a double bill of his own track "Love Yourself" and "Where Are U Now."

Bieber opened the set strumming a guitar in a cheetah-print jacket before he appeared to get tangled in the instrument's strap while taking it off. He tossed the guitar aside and raced to the stage to join Skrillex and Diplo on a rock-flavoured rendition of their freshly-crowned Grammy winner.

Among the other Canadian Grammy winners were legendary singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell for best album notes on "Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced." It was the ninth Grammy of her career.

Two other Canadians marked their first Grammy wins.

Jan Haust, a native of London, Ont., and Hamilton's Peter Moore captured the best historical album honour for "The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11."

The duo shared the award with Steve Berkowitz, Jeff Rosen and Mark Wilder.

The "Basement Tapes" set features music from Bob Dylan and Toronto's the Band recorded in 1967 but never released in its entirety.

Seemingly lost to time, the Band's Garth Hudson discovered the recordings inside a storage locker when he was cleaning it out. The tapes were sent to Toronto for restoration and released last year.

"This is a gift that everybody buys for their father," Moore said in a recent interview.

"You also have a lot of young people who are finding out about this music for the first time."

Haust and Moore met nearly 30 years ago when they were part of the Toronto music scene. Both have dedicated part of their careers unearthing old recordings — pieces of music history — before they deteriorate into oblivion.

"You put your best efforts forward trying to figure out where a tape can be," said Moore.

Toronto hip-hop darling Drake lost all five awards he was nominated for, including best rap performance for "Back to Back" and best rap album for "If You're Reading This It's Too Late."

The rapper was coming off NBA all-star weekend in Toronto and was not scheduled to perform at the Grammys.

With a report from Reuters

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