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Artists on AMAs Vs. Grammys

Sugar Ray lead singer Mark McGrath isn’t sure what all the fuss between the American Music Awards and Grammys is about. “It’s a petty argument and I think it can all be resolved. The people getting hurt at the end of the day are the fans,” he said backstage Wednesday night.

“Being down in South Central, can’t we all just get along?” he said, echoing Rodney King’s plea after the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

AMA producer Dick Clark sued Michael Greene, president of the Recording Academy, for $10 million in December. Clark alleges that Greene has for years siphoned talent from the AMA show by denying artists a slot on the Grammy telecast if they first appear on Clark’s show.

Green has denied the charges.

“There’s nothing wrong with people being competitive,” said Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, who hosted the AMAs. “May Dick Clark and Michael Greene do their thing. I don’t feel restricted.”

Combs said artists should make their own decisions.

“If an artist lets themselves get alienated from one show or the other, that’s their problem. I’m cool with everybody,” he said. “Three months from now that’ll be old news and something else will be going on.”

McGrath said the shows are held too close together. The Grammys will be given out next month in Los Angeles.

“This will be the last year we’ll see that,” singer Sheryl Crow said of the rift. “It doesn’t happen like that in the film world. Artists can be at the American Film Institute Awards, the Golden Globes, the Oscars.”

Country singer Kix Brooks came down solidly behind Clark. He and partner Ronnie Dunn won favorite country band, duo or group.

“I think Dick Clark has a lot to do with the energy here. He’s so much a part of this. He gets the crowd going and he’s with you all the way. It just makes it fun,” he said.

Garth Brooks finally found an American Music Award he wanted to accept.

In 1996, Brooks won artist of the year, but left the award on the podium, saying he didn’t believe in the concept of picking one artist.

This year, he received the Award of Merit “in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the musical entertainment of the American public.”

On stage, Brooks thanked his ex-wife Sandy. The couple’s divorce was final in December.

“Even beyond marriage she has been great to me and her family’s been great to me,” he said.

Tim McGraw, who won awards for country male artist and his “Set This Circus Down” album, saluted Brooks backstage.

“He opened the door for a lot of country artists. He put us in the mainstream,” McGraw said.

Fittingly, red, white and blue were the colors of choice at a show with the word American in its title.

Nelly, winner for rap/hip hop artist, wore the colors in a sweatsuit.

“It’s my new clothing line,” he said. “If black kids want to pick it up, I would much appreciate it.”

Country singer Toby Keith splashed the colors on his guitar face.

The post-show party inside the Shrine Auditorium was decorated with an oversized Uncle Sam and Statue of Liberty, along with a giant American flag and red, white and blue bunting.

Cher performed her new single “Song for the Lonely,” which she dedicated to the people of New York.

“I did the song way before September 11th. Afterwards, it seemed like it was a good song for them and seeing how everyone was rising to the occasion, I felt that was the right thing to do,” she said.

Next year, Cher plans to star in the musical “Mame.” At 55, she may tour again, too.

“I don’t think I’ve got too many tours left in me. Two hours and I’m old,” she said.

Yolanda Adams broke ground by winning favorite contemporary inspirational artist, given for the first time in the show’s 29-year history.

“It’s wonderful the category is here. It shows music is now ready for gospel,” she said backstage. “Gospel has been around a long time, but now we’re being recognized as a legitimate art form.”

Adams received a standing ovation for her performance.

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