LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Country-pop singer Taylor Swift, who turned her tales of high-school misery into chart-topping ballads of teen heartbreak, won the first Grammys of her brief career on Sunday.
Swift, 20, took home statuettes for female country vocal and country song, both for the song “White Horse,” and remained in contention for another six awards at the main ceremony set to begin at 5 p.m. PST (0100 GMT Monday).
“This my first Grammy, you guys! This is a Grammy,” said a seemingly breathless Swift as she accepted the prize for female country vocal. “I live in awe of the people that I was nominated against in this category.”
She shared the award for best country song with co-writer Liz Roze, who recalled that she was asked by Swift six years ago — when the star was an unknown 14-year-old — to write songs together.
“Thankfully, I said yes,” Rose said.
Swift accepted her awards during a fast-paced ceremony where 100 of the 109 categories were announced before the main telecast.
Lady Gaga, up for five nominations, swept the two categories in the dance field, winning the dance recording prize for “Poker Face” and electronic/dance album prize for “The Fame.” She is also nominated for album, song and record of the year, alongside Swift and 10-time nominee Beyonce.
Other major winners included Indian Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” composer A.R. Rahman, who collected two prizes in the film music section for the film’s soundtrack and theme song “Jai Ho.”
Film composer Michael Giacchino also won a pair, for best score soundtrack album and best instrumental composition, both related to his work on the Pixar cartoon “Up.”
French remixer David Guetta, up for five nominations, won an award for best remixed recording for “When Love Takes Over.”
“Finally the DJ culture and the dance culture is growing in America,” he said.
Veteran rocker Neil Young was a notable first-time winner, finally honored in his capacity as an art director of “Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 (1963-1972),” which won the Grammy for best art direction on a boxed or special limited edition package.
Nicaraguan salsa singer Luis Enrique also went to the podium for the first time, taking home the tropical Latin album prize for “Ciclos.” Enrique, recalling that he came to the United States as an illegal immigrant in the 1970s when he was 15, dedicated the award to the people still struggling in his homeland.
Children’s cowboy singer Buck Howdy won his first Grammy, in the spoken word album for children category, for “Aaaaah! Spooky, Scary Stories & Songs.”
“We spent less to produce this record than I did to valet park he said,” he said, later explaining to reporters — in apparent seriousness — that he paid $40 to park and $20 on the album.
After nine nominations, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling was finally honored with a Grammy, winning the best jazz vocal album prize for “Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman.”
Chick Corea won his 16th Grammy, this time in the jazz instrumental album category for “Five Peace Band - Live,” a disc credited to Corea and John McLaughlin Five Peace Band.
Levon Helm, former singer/drummer with The Band, won his second Grammy in three years, beating former collaborator Bob Dylan among others in the Americana album category with “Electric Dirt.”
Editing by Cynthia Osterman