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65th Grammy Awards Lavish Love On Brandi And Bonnie

Brandi Carlile and Bonnie Raitt claimed six Grammy Awards between them on Sunday in Los Angeles.
Brandi Carlile and Bonnie Raitt claimed six Grammy Awards between them on Sunday in Los Angeles.

Bonnie Raitt and Brandi Carlile, arguably American roots music’s reigning matriarch and its top female star respectively, had a golden night on Sunday, winning three Grammy Awards each. Carlile showed her artistic range in the awards categories and on the national CBS broadcast from Los Angeles as the famous folk singer won Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song (over Ozzy Osbourne in both cases) for the blazing “Broken Horses.”

Raitt won three of the four categories for which she was nominated, including Song of the Year overall (as well as American Roots Song) for “Just Like That,” the title track on her eighteenth career album. She also took Best Americana Performance for the album track “Made Up Mind,” a timeless sounding song penned by the Canadian duo The Bros. Landreth, whom she acknowledged in her afternoon speech. 

Later on the prime time stage though, Raitt addressed the “grace and generosity” of organ donation at the heart of “Just Like That,” a song about the wondrous results of organ donation and transplantation. “People have been responding to the song partly because of how much I love and we all love John Prine, and that was the inspiration for the music for this song,” she said. “I don't write a lot of songs but I'm so proud that you appreciate this one.”

Raitt did not win Best Americana Album for Just Like That. Instead the prize went to Carlile’s In These Silent Days, beating out fellow nominees Dr. John, Keb’ Mo’, and the duo of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. It seemed as if the rock wins were most exciting to the Washington state artist though. “It’s rock and roll man!,” Carlile hollered from the podium during the afternoon Premiere Ceremony, sharing the moment with her longtime bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth. “I can not tell you how much this means to us. We were born and raised in Seattle, and when I met these guys 22 years ago, (and) we decided to get in a van and be a band together, they were covered in Ramones tattoos and they had never even played an acoustic guitar. And then this happened!” 

Carlile’s six prior Grammy Awards were all in country, American Roots or Americana. But her high wattage voice, slightly frayed and at the edge of control on “Broken Horses” near the top of the network show, as well as her assertive electric guitar playing, proved she’s every bit the rocker when she wants to be. 

Two more remarkable women who had big growth years in 2022 wrapped up the other roots album categories, as Madison Cunningham’s Revealer was named Best Folk Album and Molly Tuttle’s Crooked Tree was named Best Bluegrass Album. Both were first-time Grammy Winners at ages 26 and 30 respectively. Tuttle was among the ten nominees for Best New Artist overall, an honor that ultimately went to 23-year-old jazz singer Samara Joy. 

In a remarkable moment for Nashville and its legacy of Black music, the Tennessee State University Marching Band’s 2022 release The Urban Hymnal won Best Roots Gospel Album. Produced by Dallas Austin, Larry Jenkins, and Sir the Baptist, the multi-vocalist record brings massive brass orchestration, roaring percussion and hip-hop sensibility to a unique and memorable 10-song disc. 

South Carolina five-piece band Ranky Tanky earned the Grammy for Best Regional Roots Music Album with a live release from New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. These "global ambassadors of Gullah music" - won the same award for its prior release three years ago, a studio recording. "Once again, it is an honor to be able to stand on the shoulders of our Gullah Ancestry and continue to bring this music and message to the world," said trumpeter Charlton Singleton at the ceremony.

In the blues album categories, Edgar Winter accepted the contemporary award for Brother Johnny, a tribute to his late brother. While Americana icons Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder won the traditional trophy for Get On Board, their first collaboration since their days together in Rising Sons at the dawn of California country rock.

Performers on the CBS broadcast included ultimate Album of the Year winner Harry Styles, Lizzo, Luke Combs, and an astonishing 12-minute medley celebrating 50 years of hip-hop with too many star rappers to count. Roots music got its TV moment, once again, courtesy of Chris Stapleton, who sang “Higher Ground” and traded solo riffs with Stevie Wonder as part of a Motown moment for Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson. 

The memorial segment had particular resonance for Americana and country fans, as Kacey Mustgraves opened the multi-artist segment singing the late Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Among those recognized were Naomi Judd, Mickey Gilley, Dr. Paul Kwami of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, David Crosby, Ronnie Hawkins, Ian Tyson, and musician/journalist Peter Cooper. 

Here’s a full list of winners and nominees from NPR. 

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's editorial director and host of The String, a weekly interview show airing Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. He also co-hosts The Old Fashioned on Saturdays at 9 am and Tuesdays at 8 pm. Threads and Instagram: @chavighurst. Email: craig@wmot.org