Houston wins Grammy's best,and so is newcomer Braxton And The Winner Is ...

March 02, 1994|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

Last night, it became official: The Grammys will always love Whitney Houston.

Granted, the Grammy people -- otherwise known as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences -- loved other people, too, including Severn native Toni Braxton, Sting and "Aladdin."

But it was Houston who set the tone for the annual awards show. She not only opened the show, offering a lush, Andrew Lloyd Webber-ish rendition of "I Will Always Love You," but quickly carted away Grammys for Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal, Female. David Foster won the Producer of the Year Grammy for his work on the single.

Houston was suitably gracious onstage. "Coming from you, this is truly an honor," she told presenter Dolly Parton (the composer of "I Will Always Love You"), who presented the Record of the Year award. "You wrote a beautiful song."

Houston wasn't the only multiple Grammy winner. The Disney musical "Aladdin" picked up five awards, including Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, for "A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme)," which was recorded by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle.

Sting, meanwhile, won the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal, Male, for "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You." Sting's album, "Ten Summoner's Tales," took the Grammy for Best Engineered Recording (Non-Classical).

Here in Baltimore, though, the big news was Toni Braxton, who won the Grammy for Best New Artist. "Ooh, I have to thank God," she said, as she tearily accepted the award. She also expressed gratitude (between sniffles) to local musicians Bill Pettaway and Ernesto Phillips. Nor was that Braxton's only trip to the stage last night. She followed saxophonist Kenny G to sing "Breathe Again"; she helped present the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal, Male, to Sting; and she won the Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, Grammy for her single "Another Sad Love Song."

Braxton wasn't the only winner from the area, either. Washingtonian Mary-Chapin Carpenter's rendition of "Passionate Kisses" was awarded the Best Country Vocal Performance, Female, trophy, while Digable Planets, which includes two Howard University alums, won the Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

Ironically, the Baltimorean with the most Grammy wins this year was the late Billie Holiday. "The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve 1945-1959," which includes some of the late jazz singer's most successful recordings, won awards in the Best Historical Album, Best Album Notes and Best Album Package categories.

As with most Grammy broadcasts, the show was packed with star-studded musical numbers and thank-you-packed acceptance speeches -- fairly sedate stuff, until U2 frontman Bono walked on to accept the Best Alternative Album award. "Yeah, alternative," he mumbled, looking every bit the bedraggled rock star. "I think I would like to give a message to the young people of America, and that is that we shall continue to abuse our position and [expletive] up the mainstream."

Quipped host Garry Shandling afterward, "If I knew we could use that word, my monologue would have been much funnier."

Bono's blue language aside, there were few real surprises in the Grammy results. Tony Bennett's Fred Astaire tribute, "Steppin' Out," won the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Performance, Meat Loaf took the Best Rock Performance, Solo, for "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)," tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson won Grammys for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo and Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Individual or Group, and the Janet Jackson hit "That's the Way Love Goes" was named R&B Song of the Year.

Probably the closest the Grammys got to an upset was when Dwight Yoakam snatched the Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, award away from megastar Garth Brooks. Yoakam, modest as ever, not only seemed surprised by the victory,but made special mention of bluegrass great Ralph Stanley, who was nominated with Yoakam for Best Country Vocal Collaboration. Unfortunately for Stanley, Reba McEntire and Linda Davis took that trophy, for their hit "Does He Love You."

On the classical front, Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra won four Grammys for their recording of the Bartok pieces "The Wooden Prince" and "Cantata Profana," including the award for Classical Album of the Year. Unfortunately, that meant David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, whose recording of Samuel Barber's Adagio and Symphony No. 1 was also up for Classical Album of the Year, were among the losers.

Worse (at least from a local perspective), pianist Leon Fleisher won neither of the awards he was up for. The Grammy for Best Classical Performance -- Instrumental Soloist(s) (With Orchestra) went instead to Anne-Sophie Mutter for her recording of the Berg Violin Concerto and Wolfgang Rihm's "Time Chant," while the Best Classical Performance -- Instrumental Soloist(s) (Without Orchestra) Grammy went to John Browning, for his recording of the piano music of Samuel Barber.

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