* More than 60 awards announced before televised show
* Esperanza Spalding, Brian Wilson also take home trophies
* Mumford & Sons, Frank Ocean, FUN. among top nominees
By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES, Feb 10 Taylor Swift, Beyonce,
Rihanna, Jay-Z and Kanye West were early Grammy winners on
Sunday as music's biggest night got under way, announcing
winners in more than 60 categories before the televised show.
The top categories are dominated this year by male artists,
with British folk band Mumford & Sons, indie-pop trio FUN. and
R&B singer Frank Ocean going into the show with six nominations
each, including Album of the Year.
The 55th Grammy Awards will hand out their gramophone-shaped
trophies in more than 80 categories, but only a handful of
winners are announced during the three-hour live telecast airing
Country-pop singer Taylor Swift won a Grammy for her
collaboration with T-Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars on the song
"Safe and Sound" from "The Hunger Games" movie soundtrack.
"I really want to thank Suzanne Collins for writing 'The
Hunger Games' and to Jennifer Lawrence for portraying a
character that was so fun to write a perspective from," Swift
said in her acceptance speech.
Jay-Z and Kanye West picked up two awards - Best Rap
Performance and Best Rap Song for their collaboration "N****s in
Paris." Jay-Z's wife, Beyonce, won Best Traditional R&B
Performance for "Love on Top."
DJ Skrillex, who won three Grammy awards last year, picked
up three more this year, including Best Dance/Electronica Album
"We support music and a forward-thinking attitude," Skrillex
said on stage.
Rihanna and British DJ Calvin Harris picked up the Best
Short Form Music Video award for "We Found Love." The electronic
dance track was one of the biggest chart-sellers of 2012, and
the dark video featured drug abuse and violence.
Esperanza Spalding, who famously beat Justin Bieber to win
the Best New Artist Grammy in 2011, picked up two awards
including Best Jazz Vocal Album for "Radio Music Society."
Brian Wilson, 70, of The Beach Boys picked up a Grammy for
Best Historical Album for "The Smile Sessions."
Backstage, Wilson said he felt "wonderful, and honored" to
receive the accolade. He said he was heading back to the studio
next week to work on new material. Asked about a Beach Boys
reunion, he said: "I doubt it. I don't think so."
The Grammys encompass all spectrums of the music and sound
industry, including spoken word albums.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton missed out on a Grammy
award for Best Spoken Word Album for his book "Back to Work: Why
We Need Smart Government For a Strong Economy." He was beaten by
Janis Ian for her spoken word autobiography "Society's Child."
"To say this is a stunning upset is an understatement. I
keep thinking there's a punchline in here somewhere," Ian said
in her acceptance speech.
RISING STARS AND VETERANS TO TAKE GRAMMY STAGE
Dozens of performers including U.S. rockers The Black Keys,
who received five nominations, and former White Stripes frontman
Jack White, who has three nominations, will grace the Grammy
stage on Sunday.
After paying tribute to electronic dance music last year,
the Grammys are highlighting country music this year.
On Sunday, country will be represented by nominees Dierks
Bentley and Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and best new
artist contender Hunter Hayes. Country music veterans Tim McGraw
and Faith Hill will present awards.
The Grammys have a reputation for pairing up old-timers and
newcomers, and this year will see some interesting
Mumford & Sons will perform alongside Zac Brown, Elton John,
Mavis Staples and Alabama Shakes singer Brittany Howard in a
tribute to blues-rock musician Levon Helm of The Band, who died
last April of throat cancer.
Mumford & Sons won mainstream attention in the United States
after performing at the 2011 Grammys alongside the Avett
Brothers and Bob Dylan. Their sophomore album "Babel" became one
of 2012's best-selling albums in the United States.
The band, who are up for six Grammy awards this year, missed
out on the Best Americana Album, which went to veteran singer
and guitarist Bonnie Raitt for "Slipstream."
R&B artist Bruno Mars and Rihanna will team up with Sting,
while John and British rising star Ed Sheeran, 21, are set to
perform a duet.
Justin Timberlake will make his long-awaited return to the
musical spotlight in his first televised performance since he
released "Suit & Tie" in January, his first new song in five
Timberlake, whose album "The 20/20 Experience" will be
released on March 19, will also be performing a show in
Hollywood immediately after his turn on the Grammy stage.
Swift, Alicia Keys and new artist nominees The Lumineers, an
indie-folk band from Colorado, are also scheduled to perform.
Performers have been warned by the CBS network, which airs
the Grammy Awards, to keep their buttocks, nipples and genitals
covered up, in a "wardrobe advisory" aimed at avoiding indecency
complaints from viewers and federal authorities.