The swan song of the late Ray Charles, an album of duets called "Genius Loves Company," brought him a posthumous bounty at the 47th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night, including the first trophies for album and record of the year in his long and illustrious career.
The album not only will send six Grammys to the estate of Charles but also had wins in two technical fields and an instrumental arrangement award, bringing its total to a record nine Grammys. That surpassed Santana's "Supernatural" in 1999 and Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in 1983, which each scored eight trophies.
Charles, who died in June in Los Angeles at age 73, devoted the final months of his life to two projects that have become powerful career signatures: the album honored at the Staples Center ceremony, and the film "Ray," the biopic that is nominated for best picture honors at the coming Academy Awards.
"I'll simply say it again, humbly, we accept this wonderful, wonderful award, and we offer humongous thanks to you individually and collectively from the bottom of our hearts," Joe Adams, the singer's longtime manager, said in accepting the album of the year award at the conclusion of the Grammy ceremonies, broadcast nationally on CBS.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday February 15, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 69 words Type of Material: Correction
Grammy facts -- Monday's front-page article about the Grammy Awards ceremony incorrectly stated that Santana's 1999 "Supernatural" album generated eight Grammy Awards. The album was responsible for nine awards, a record tied on Sunday by Ray Charles' "Genius Loves Company." The story also stated that Britney Spears had watched other teen pop stars such as Christina Aguilera and 'N Sync win Grammys. 'N Sync has never won a Grammy.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday February 16, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 2 inches; 70 words Type of Material: Correction
Grammy facts -- An article in Monday's Section A about the Grammy Awards said Ray Charles' album "Genius Loves Company" had generated a record nine awards, beating the eight won in previous years by two other albums. A correction Tuesday said the album had tied the record, equaling the nine won by Santana's "Supernatural" in 1999. In fact, "Genius Loves Company" won eight Grammys, so "Supernatural" still holds the record.
Charles joined John Lennon as a posthumous winner of the best album Grammy. The former Beatle's name was called for "Double Fantasy," his 1980 collection with Yoko Ono.
"Genius Loves Company" features Charles performing with Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Johnny Mathis, Willie Nelson and a gallery of other stars who trekked to his Los Angeles studio to record the platinum-selling collection that is peppered with standards and familiar hits.
One of those classics, a rendition of "Here We Go Again" by Charles and young chanteuse Norah Jones, won in the prestigious best record category, which names the best single recording of the year. As she walked to the stage to accept the gramophone statuette, the voice of her late collaborator was piped into the arena. "Ah, listen to that," Jones said.
For Jones, it was the second record of the year award in three years -- she won for the ubiquitous gossamer hit "Don't Know Why" two years ago.
Other top winners of the awards handed out by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences included Alicia Keys, who followed up on the powerful showing for her 2001 debut album (she won five Grammys that year) by taking four trophies this time. Her "The Diary of Alicia Keys" won best R&B album and "You Don't Know My Name" took honors as best R&B song.
Friends and fellow stars of the urban music renaissance, Kanye West and Usher, each won three awards. West, who won best rap album for his CD "The College Dropout," had perhaps the most dramatic microphone moments as he intensely charted his path from a serious car crash in October 2002 to the present day.
"When I had my accident, I found out at that moment that nothing in life is promised except death," West said. He went on to give "thanks to the fans, thanks to the accident, thanks to God."
Poking fun at his own reputation for intense competitiveness and recent reports of backstage grousing at other award shows, West told the crowd he knew some people were wondering if he would be "wilding out" if he went home empty-handed. He held aloft his new gleaming piece of celebrity hardware and said, "I guess we'll never know."
The story line of the night, though, was soul man Charles. He added six Grammys to his previous lifetime total of 12. (His album and music from it also won three other awards Sunday that will not be engraved with his name; the victories were in categories that awarded supporting musicians and technical crew.)
Charles was present in spirit and mind when Jamie Foxx, the actor nominated for an Oscar for his title-role turn in "Ray," joined Keys for a duet of "Georgia on My Mind," one of Charles' signature hits. When Foxx, a classically trained pianist, sat at the piano to perform, he quietly said into the microphone: "For an old friend." Instead of mimicking the trademark Charles falsetto, Foxx then sang in his own voice. Foxx and Keys were joined on stage by an orchestra led by Quincy Jones, the dean of R&B music and a friend of the late Charles.
On a 3 1/2 -hour broadcast that featured more than twice as many live performances as award presentations, there were other notable musical groupings, including one with Bono, Jones, Keys, Stevie Wonder, the guitarist Slash and others in a performance of the Beatles' song "Across the Universe" that was instantly made available online as a fundraiser for victims of the South Asia earthquake and tsunami. There was also a Janis Joplin tribute by newcomer Joss Stone and veteran Melissa Etheridge and a melodramatic turn in Spanish by newlyweds Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony in their breathlessly promoted public debut as a duet.