- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Dixie Chicks, Mary J. Blige and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were big Grammy winners last night.

The Dixie Chicks bounced back from backlash with five Grammys, including album of the year, while Miss Blige and the Red Hot Chili Peppers each scored three awards, the Peppers for their “Stadium Arcadium” double album. Former “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood got the best new artist Grammy.

The show featured blast-from-the-past performances, including tributes to Motown and the late James Brown, and a comeback by the reunited British rock trio, the Police.

Miss Blige, nominated for eight Grammys, won best R&B; album for “The Breakthrough,” plus best female R&B; performance and R&B; song for “Be Without You.”

A tearful Miss Blige said her album “has not only shown that I am a musician and an artist and a writer, it also shows I am growing into a better human being.”

The big wins marked a comeback for the Dixie Chicks, who turned into red-state pariahs after lead singer Natalie Maines criticized President Bush during a 2003 concert, on the eve of the Iraq invasion.

The Dixie Chicks won record and song of the year for the no-regrets anthem “Not Ready to Make Nice.” The Texas trio’s “Taking the Long Way” also won best country album — especially ironic, considering that the group has said they don’t consider themselves country artists anymore.

Miss Maines joked sarcastically about the country award — “Well, to quote the great ‘Simpsons’ ? ‘Heh-Heh’ ” — while bandmate Emily Robison said, “We wouldn’t have done this album without everything we went through, so we have no regrets. I thank everyone who voted for us.”

The Peppers took best rock performance by a duo or group for “Dani California.” Psychedelic soul duo Gnarls Barkley’s two awards included a win for alternative-music album, while rapper T.I. and Justin Timberlake were also double winners.

Miss Underwood won best female country vocal performance for her hit “Jesus, Take the Wheel.”

“This is my first Grammy — hopefully, the first of a few more,” the 2005 “Idol” champ said.

Irma Thomas, known as the Queen of New Orleans Soul and a Hurricane Katrina survivor, was a tearful winner for best contemporary blues album for “After the Rain.”

“First of all, I want to say, ‘Thank you, God, and thank you, New Orleans’ — 49 years you believed in me, and it finally paid off,” she said.

The Recording Academy, now in its 49th year, injected extra excitement into the show with a contest, “My Grammy Moment,” in which three women contended for the chance to sing onstage with Mr. Timberlake during his performance, with the winner determined by viewers during the show.

Lifetime achievement Grammy Awards were presented at last night to the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, Maria Callas, Ornette Coleman, Bob Wills and Booker T. & the MG’s. Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, founders of A&M; Records, were honored last night with the Recording Academy’s President’s Merit Award for their contributions to popular music.

A complete list of the winners can be found on The Washington Times Web site, www.washingtontimes.com.

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