Welcome to The Seattle Times’ 62nd Annual Grammy Awards live blog, where we’re following along as those from the Seattle area vie for the music industry’s biggest awards.
Brandi Carlile won two Grammy Awards during the pre-telecast show. Carlile won Best Country Song for her work as a songwriter on Tanya Tucker’s “Bring My Flowers Now” – her fourth career Grammy. And Tucker also won Best Country Album for “While I’m Livin’,” which Carlile co-produced with Shooter Jennings.
Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament and his brother Barry won a Grammy for Best Recording Package for the “Chris Cornell” project.
Producer Tele – a.k.a Seattle native Stevie Cheung – was up for Song of the Year and Record of the Year for his production work on Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts,” one of the year’s most viral anthems. It’s been a life-changing ride for the 28-year-old. But Billie Eilish slayed beat out Lizzo in both those categories.
Carlile and Tele are both up for major awards.
8:46 p.m.: Take a breath, and catch up!
Well, thanks for spending the day with us. It’s been fun, all 10 hours of it.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad night for Seattle at the Grammys. Brandi Carlile was recognized for her songwriting and production work. He didn’t win, but Tele, the producer aka Stevie Cheung, has launched his career on the strength of his work with Lizzo. The Ament brothers’ win is one of those sweet moments you hope for in life. We promise you Sara Gazarek will be back. And Caspar Babypants? Well, Chris Ballew spent his day playing music for little kids in Marysville, blissfully unaware of what was going on in L.A. Seems kind of like the perfect way to spend a day.
8:45 p.m.: It’s all over! Quote of the night…
“We didn’t write a speech for this because we didn’t make this album to win a Grammy,” Finneas said after he and Eilish won Album of the Year. “We didn’t think it would win anything ever. We wrote an album about depression and suicidal thoughts and climate change and being the bad guy, whatever that means. We stand up here confused and grateful.”
8:40 p.m.: Billie Eilish is unstoppable. (What about Lizzo, though?)
Eilish wins Record of the Year for “Bad Guy,” giving her five Grammy Awards. FIVE. Her brother and producer Finneas also won Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. The two simply said, “Thank you,” and walked off the stage.
8:37 p.m.: Billie Eilish strikes again with Album of the Year!
Eilish closes out the night on fire! She wins Album of the Year for “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”
“Can I just say I think Ariana deserves this?” Eilish said after the win.
8:25 p.m.: Billie Eilish wins Best New Artist.
It’s her third award of the evening, tying her with Lizzo. Album of the Year and Record of the Year still to go for both artists.
8:18 p.m.: The show is still going….
We’re definitely running over our allotted time, folks. Still have three major categories to go … plan accordingly.
7:42 p.m.: Song of the Year goes to …
“This is to all the kids making music in their bedroom today,” said Finneas, who wrote and produced the song with Eilish, his 18-year-old sister. “You’re going to get one of these.”
7:24 p.m.: Tribute to Nipsey Hussle
Meek Mill, YG, John Legend, Roddy Ricch, Kirk Franklin with gospel choir and DJ Khaled gathered together to celebrate Nipsey Hussle, who was shot to death last year. During Sundays pre-telecast, the L.A. rapper won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance on “Racks in the MIiddle,” with Ricch and Hit-Boy.
The group performed the Khaled song “Higher,” which was released shortly after Hussle’s death. A video of the rapper played during his verse of the song.
At the end of the performance, pictures of Hussle and Kobe Bryant were flashed on the screen. “Long live Nipsey Hussle! Long live Kobe Bryant!,” DJ Khaled shouted.
7:15 p.m.: Demi Lovato gets a standing ovation
Demi Lovato broke down and had to start her peformance over during an emotional performance. Tears streamed down her face as she sang “Anyone,” written shortly before she went to rehab in 2018. The stingy crowd gave her one of the night’s few standing ovations.
6:59 p.m.: The Grammys have never seen anything like this
Rap phenom Lil Nas X, Achy Breaky Billy Ray Cyrus, K-Pop titans BTS, viral yodeling kid Mason Ramsey and Diplo crushed it on “Old Town Road.” The performance was crazy.
Lil Nas X played the mandolin and trumpet (maybe), sang and rapped, looked a little bit like Darth Vader with a cowboy hat for a bit, lounged around near a giant, lime green skull and shimmied with dancers who looked like they were fresh out of “The Matrix.”
Weird and cool, it’s gonna take a while to unpack that one. Also, BTS became the first South Korean act to perform at the Grammys.
6:55 p.m.: Tyler the Creator’s proud mom wins the whole show
Tyler, the Creator’s mother wins the Grammy Awards for her reaction after her son took Best Rap Album for “Igor.” She lifted Tyler out of his chair by his shirt collar, then sprinted breathlessly to the stage to share the spotlight. “To my mother, you did a great job raising this guy,” Tyler said during his speech.
6:45 p.m.: Thank you, Run DMC, for saving Aerosmith from itself
Aerosmith’s performance left much to be desired. They were out of tune, out of time. Then, DMC busted out the jams and came up with the save on “Walk This Way.”
6:40 p.m.: Billie Eilish wows the room
Billie Eilish throws down the gauntlet with her chill bump-inducing version of “When the Party’s Over.” Accompanied by her brother, Finneas, on piano, Eilish showed why the music world lost its stuff over her when the teen released her debut album “When We Fall Asleep, Were Do We Go?” last year.
The night is shaping up as Lizzo vs. Billie. We’re all winners!
6:13 p.m.: Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile perform!
Tanya Tucker was first nominated for a Grammy at age 13. She won her first Grammy today at 61. You could feel the years that have passed between those two events in her voice on Sunday night as she sang “Bring My Flowers Now.” She was accompanied by Brandi Carlile just a few hours after the two skipped down the aisle arm in arm when they won Best Country Song during the pre-telecast. That was followed a few minutes later by their win for Best Country Album for “While I’m Livin’.”
A year ago, Carlile brought the crowd to its feet with her towering rendition of “The Joke” on the same night she won three awards. On Sunday, she reveled in her role as producer and cheerleader for Tucker, a childhood hero. In just over 11 months, Carlile’s won awards for her singing, songwriting and production – making her a rare triple threat at the Grammys.
Carlile and Tucker then presented the award for Best Comedy Album, which went to Dave Chapelle. That’s probably the last time you’ll ever read those three names together in the same sentence.
5:52 p.m.: Best Country Duo/Group Performance is awarded to…
Dan & Shay take Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Speechless,” winning over Maren Morris and Brandi Carlile in the category. Dan & Shay are really, really popular, so not really a surprise.
5:45 p.m.: Carlile starts night on high note; Lizzo is making waves
Mike Rietmulder, our man on the scene in the media room at the Staples Center, has checked with Grammy officials and we’ve confirmed Brandi Carlile will need a bigger shelf. She will also get a trophy for her production work on Tanya Tucker’s “While I’m Livin’,” which won Best Country Album earlier today. She also won as a songwriter on “Bring My Flowers Now,” giving her five career Grammys.
That number could move north later tonight.
Also, Lizzo won again. Starting to feel like a tidal wave for the eight-time nominee.
5:09 p.m.: An emotional Alicia Keys takes the stage and pays tribute to Kobe Bryant
“Here we are together on music’s biggest night celebrating the artists that are doing it best. But to be honest with you we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now because earlier today Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. And we’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” Keys said.
She was then joined on stage by Boyz II Men for a rendition of the song “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.
“We never imagined in a million years we’d have to start the snow like this,” Keys said. “Never, never, never, never. So we wanted to do something that described a tiny bit how we feel right now.”
Keys then left it up to Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani to try to lift the mood … an unenviable task.
5:01 p.m.: The show has begun!
The Grammys open with Lizzo conducting a small orchestra on “Cuz I Love You” in a black rhinestone-studded dress and telling the audience, “Tonight is for Kobe.” She transitioned to a neon-glam version of “Truth Hurts” — one of the two songs by Seattle natives that are up for Song of the Year tonight — complete with flute solo and emotional finale.
Lizzo is an early leader with two Grammys. And we’ll go ahead and say it here: We think she’s gonna surprise everyone and top Billie Eilish in most of their head-to-head categories. Her poignant story and upbeat music are just the tonics the Grammys need right now.
4:59 p.m.: Kobe on everyone’s minds as show begins
We’re just a few seconds away from the start of the Grammys. Watching the red carpet broadcast, it’s clear that Kobe Bryant’s death has taken over the narrative tonight. It will be interesting to see how Grammy producers and host Alicia Keys handle the will handle the evening – the broadcast airs from the Los Angeles Lakers’ arena in downtown L.A., after all.
As Common noted in a red carpet interview, artists must balance the loss of Bryant with an attempt to celebrate music. Past experience tells us that’s a difficult trick to pull off.
4:30 pm: Stars arrive on the red carpet
3:47 p.m.: Pre-telecast wraps up
Well, that’s it for the pre-telecast ceremony. Couple of memorable moments for Seattle artists that have decades of beautiful backstory behind them. Brandi Carlile has loved Tanya Tucker since she was a little girl. Jeff and Barry Ament learned how to draw by trading pictures back and forth as kids growing in Montana. Good stuff.
Here’s what we have left as we move to tonight’s show, which kicks off at 5 p.m. PT on CBS: Carlile, Phil and Tim Hanseroth and Tucker will be up for Song of the Year for “Bring My Flowers Now.” Carlile’s also up for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Common” with Maren Morris. Tucker and Carlile also are expected to perform together tonight.
Producer Tele is up for Song of the Year and Record of the Year for his production work on Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.” Lizzo’s early wins (that Tele does not receive a trophy for) in the Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Traditional R&B Performance categories bodes well for “Truth Hurts.”
Stay tuned …
3:40 p.m.: Sub Pop shut out
Sub Pop’s Calexico and Iron & Wine unfortunately are shut out in the two categories in which they were nominated, Best American Roots Performance and Best Americana Album.
2:23 p.m.: No “Best Gospel” for Natalie Grant
Bad news for former Seattle resident Natalie Grant, nominated in the Best Gospel Performance for her work as a featured artist on Koryn Hawthorne’s “Speak the Name.” She loses in the category to Kirk Franklin.
2:06 p.m.: Tanya Tucker wins big, with an assist from Brandi Carlile
One of the best scenes from Sunday’s Grammy Awards was Tanya Tucker and Brandi Carlile skipping to the stage arm in arm to mark their place in music history. After nearly 50 years, Tucker won her first Grammy Award with a big assist from Carlile.
Then two minutes later she won another.
Tucker’s wins in the Best Country Album and Best Country Song categories for “While I’m Livin’” and “Bring My Flowers Now” validate the 61-year-old’s place in country music history.
“I met Brandi, and I’ve never met such a talented person in my life. And we did this record together,” said Tucker. “I’m so honored there’s no word to express how I feel right now.”
Carlile had her own poignant story for the crowd: “Me and Shooter asked Tanya why she hadn’t made an album in the last 20 years and she said when her mom and her dad died she just couldn’t do it any more and she thought that it meant there was more love behind her in her life than ahead of her. And she knows that’s not true – right now.”
Tucker and Carlile are up for all-genre Song of the Year tonight on the main telecast as well.
2:00 p.m.: Brandi Carlile wins as a producer
Brandi Carlile wins Best Country Song for her production work on Tanya Tucker’s “Bring My Flowers Now.” Tucker also takes home Best Country Album for “While I’m Livin’.”
1:50 p.m.: Better luck next year, Gazarek
Former Seattleite Sara Gazarek loses Best Jazz Vocal Album (nominated for her well-received “Thirsty Ghost”) to Esperanza Spalding. We’re positive this won’t be Gazarek’s last appearance at the Grammys, though: She’ll be performing tonight at the official Grammys after-party.
1:48 p.m.: “Jolene” doesn’t win
Sara Gazarek’s arranger, Geoff Keezer, doesn’t win in the Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals, category for his work on “Jolene.”
1:33 p.m.: Sorry, Caspar Babypants. Better luck next year
Well, bummer folks: Beloved Seattle musician Chris Ballew, a.k.a. Caspar Babypants, loses Grammy for Best Children’s Music Album to Jon Samson for “Ageless Songs of the Child Archetype.”
12:50 p.m.: Seattle has its first 2020 Grammys win!
Brothers Jeff and Barry Ament are Seattle’s first winners at the Grammys. They won Best Recording Package for their work on “Chris Cornell.”
“As a kid my wildest dream was to maybe someday grow up and design album covers,” Jeff Ament said after accepting the award. “I’m pretty sure my brother had the same dream.”
He also paid tribute to Cornell, saying “ I want to thank Chris. We had a lot of conversations over the years about artwork. I’d like to thank is family, Vicky, [Cornell’s wife].”
12:45 p.m.: The pre-telecasts awards segment begins
Grammy chief Harvey Mason Jr. begins the pre-telecast awards broadcast with a tribute to Kobe Bryant, drawing audible gasps from members of the crowd at the Staples Center who had not heard of his death. The former Los Angeles Lakers star and Oscar Award nominee died in a helicopter crash earlier Sunday. “Since we are in his house,” Mason said. “I would ask you to join me in a moment of silence.”
The news made Mason’s job as interim CEO/president of The Recording Academy that much more difficult and he was visibly shaken. He told all the nominees that we’re here to celebrate their work.
“Thank you for bringing joy to every corner of the world,” he said. “As tough as it may seem these days, your music is the secret weapon of peace. Don’t give up. In return I can promise you this: The Recording Academy will continue to be your community.”
12 p.m.: The Seattle talent behind Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”
Music producer Tele, aka Seattle native Stevie Cheung, is up for Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the 62nd annual awards tonight for his work on Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.” The song was recorded in 2017, but went viral last spring when it was featured in the Netflix film “Someone Great.”
Now, he’s preparing to escort his parents Beth and Richard Cheung and his girlfriend Alicia Pullen down the red carpet and into Staples Center.
“Oh, man, they’re so proud,” Cheung said. “My parents, they’ve really been super supportive of my musical career my whole life. My grandpa, he used to play jazz drums but ended up being an oil man. And my mom is an accountant but has a really, really creative side to her. They always saw the value in the arts and they put me in piano lessons when I was like 3½ or 4. So to see this happen, I think they couldn’t be more proud. It took a long time for any kind of real success to take place. So, it’s very validating and vindicating, I think.”
Cheung grew up in Maple Leaf and graduated from Seattle Prep in 2009. He pursued music and philosophy degrees at Gonzaga University before heading to California.
He soon met Ricky Reed of Nice Life Recording Company. He sent Reed a few samples and he fell for the track that would eventually become the unforgettable opening of “Truth Hurts.” Now that the song is one of the most celebrated of the year, Cheung’s life is very different.
“All those people are like literal angels around me,” Cheung said, adding: “I get to work on a lot of stuff that I’m really excited about as well as have a team that listens to kind of where my interests lie and the bigger overarching dreams I may have, they helped me kind of reach them now. A lot has really picked up. Pretty much every single label is open to having a conversation with me at this point. It’s been a really amazing, hard-to-believe situation where I see the whole industry kind of has opened a lot of doors and been very, very welcoming, and I’m really grateful for all of that.”
You can follow along with Cheung’s adventures on Twitter, @iamTele.