The Grammy Awards return to New York for the first time in five years on Sunday, with songs influenced by the Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks on the city in the running for the music industry’s top annual prizes.
Veteran rocker Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” and country singer Alan Jackson’s emotional “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” are both nominated for Song of the Year.
Young singer and pianist Norah Jones with her mellow mix of jazz, blues and country song and album “Come Away With Me,” is among eight stars most frequently mentioned by music critics as likely winners of the most sought after statuettes for Album, Record or Song of the Year.
But music fans are often surprised by the industry voters’ odd choices such as reclusive jazz-rock band Steely Dan in 2001 and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences has a committee to weed out embarrassments before they are nominated.
Springsteen and his E Street Band head the Madison Square Garden playbill for the Grammy’s show to be broadcast live on CBS-TV at 8 p.m. EST. The Academy moved the show out of New York to Los Angeles in 1999 after then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani had a much-publicized dispute with Academy executives.
Springsteen’s “The Rising” was released in July, the first all-new recording by Springsteen with the E Street Band since 1984. The album includes the tracks “Into the Fire,” which Springsteen wrote after Sept. 11, and “My City of Ruins,” an earlier song about down-on-its-luck Asbury Park, New Jersey, that the musician dedicated to New York after the attacks.
The awards will honor artists in 104 categories, ranging from pop, rock, soul and jazz to classical music, spoken word and polka.
SIMON & GARFUNKEL
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel of Simon & Garfunkel, one of the great popular music acts of the 1960s and 1970s, are reuniting on stage when they will also receive a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
A spokesman for Simon said the famed duo were not planning any tour or recordings but had practiced for Sunday’s event.
“They were working yesterday for the first time in many years,” Simon’s spokesman Dan Klores said on Friday. “They had a wonderful time hanging out and singing together. They spent many hours doing so… it was very warm.”
Some musicians and Hollywood stars have publicly opposed the U.S. buildup to possible war against Iraq, leading some music industry watchers to expect antiwar gestures on stage Sunday during the live network broadcast.
CBS spokesman Chris Ender said he knew of no specific planned protest. “No one has been restricted in their artistic expression for this live show… this is first and foremost an entertainment event,” Ender said.
Many of the night’s other performers, Jones, rapper Eminem, three-women country band Dixie Chicks, singer/guitarist Sheryl Crow, Canadian teen-age sensation Avril Lavigne and Rhythm and Blues singer/songwriter Ashanti are also nominated for awards.
In all, eight musicians shared the most nominations with five each when they were announced by The Recording Academy last month – Springsteen, Jones, Lavigne, Crow, rappers Eminem and Nelly, R&B’s Ashanti and Raphael Saadiq.
Should “The Boss” Springsteen win the Album Grammy, it would fit the trend of academy voters giving the nod to some of popular music’s most enduring performers. Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett, Steely Dan, Bob Dylan and Carlos Santana have all won in the past decade ahead of younger acts.
A public opinion poll Jan. 22-Feb. 2 by the video music cable TV channel VH1 revealed that album buyers want Springsteen, Jackson, Ashanti, rapper Eminem and Dixie Chicks to win Grammys.
“Our poll shows that broad current appeal, commercial success and being topical is of great importance to the consumer, whereas the Grammys have often gone to the sentimental favorite or the artist with the most history,” said Rick Krim, VH1’s head of music and talent.
The two post-Sept 11 songs by Jackson and Springsteen topped the poll for Song of the Year. Respondents favored The Dixie Chicks’ “Home” for Album of the Year and Eminem’s “Without Me” is preferred for Record of the Year.
The TV channel said respondents believe Ashanti should win Best New Artist, ahead of Jones, Lavigne, pop and rock teen-age singer Michelle Branch, and John Mayer, known for breezy, catchy songs. The poll of 1,000 people had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.