Sam Smith may have gotten the spotlight - deservedly so - at the Grammys on Sunday night, but when it came to the country, bluegrass and Americana categories, the night belonged to Rosanne Cash at least when it came awards.
Everything pretty much everything went down well thanks to well-done live performances from Miranda Lambert, Eric Church and Brandy Clark. And those you thought probably would win did, save for two big surprises associated with the same artist.
Cash won Grammys for Best American Roots Performance for "A Feather's Not a Bird," Best American Roots Song for "A Feather's Not a Bird" and Best Americana Album for "The River & The Thread." Interestingly, this was not the first time that Cash has won a Grammy, although it's been a long long time in between. In 1985, she took a Grammy for "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me."
"There are second acts in American life," Cash said backstage at the Grammys. "I just showed up for work for 35 years, and this is what happened."
Apparently, quite a lot happened, of course, and deservedly so. The album itself was a chance for Cash to go back and explore her Southern roots and garnered much praise.
Cash took her honors over stiff competition, especially in the Best Americana Album category where she was up against the likes of Nickel Creek, John Hiatt, Sturgill Simpson and Keb' Mo'.
Carrie Underwood took Best Country Solo Performance for "Something in the Water," where her vocals, as usual, shine in the religiously themed song from her greatest hits effort. But, like Cash, this was no slam dunk with other songs that resonated also being nominated, including Church's "Give Me Back My Hometown" and Hunter Hayes' "Invisible." At a time when Lambert is at the top of her game, her hit single "Automatic" additionally was a strong contender. Keith Urban's "Cop Car," based on a true story, also was nominated.
The biggest surprise was the first Grammy for The Band Perry, which won Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "Gentle On My Mind," its reprise of the Glen Campbell hit from the "I'll Be Me" soundtrack. The biggest contender was Lambert and Underwood with their big hit "Somethin' Bad."
The win by TBP could be interpreted more as a sign of respect for Campbell, who is ailing with Alzheimer's. The song was not a hit, not getting higher than 29 on the charts, receiving just a bit less airplay than Little Big Town's "Day Drinking" and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill's "Meanwhile Back At Mama's," which all were nominated.
The Grammy results typically are not so easy to figure out with some out of left field nominees taking home the trophy. This was probably one such case. And as witnessed here, rightfully so, just because a song has been all over the radio, doesn't mean it should win a Grammy over one that has not.
The Campbell tribute seemed to have born out with "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" taking Best Country Song over such heavy weights as "Give Me Back My Hometown," "Automatic," "Meanwhile Back At Mama's" and "American Kids," the hit for Kenny Chesney.
No need for Lambert to wallow - not that she did - because she did take the Grammy for Best Country Album for "Platinum," a superb, diverse piece of work, probably the best of her career. Her win was not a surprise unless Church would have won it for "The Outsiders." But then again, this was the Grammys, and you never know when someone like Clark ("12 Stories") could have snuck through.
As for live performances, Lambert, Church and Clark were in the spotlight, and all did a fine job. Clark was super in playing acoustic with help from Dwight Yoakam on acoustic as well on "Hold My Hand." Clark has won much praise for her album and has earned her stripes as a songwriter as well. It was remarkable that she received a much coveted chance to perform live especially towards the end of the night. This will only further her career.
Lambert proved sassy with her current single "Little Red Wagon" where the woman stands up for herself.
Church has really come into his own this year both with his very strong disc "The Outsiders" and in concert where he has grown increasingly confident.
But at the Grammy performance, I still don't get the video accompanying "Give Me Back My Hometown," showing various scenes such as the Paris march last month by world leaders protesting the terrorist murders at Charlie Hedbo and the kosher store in Paris along with scenes of protest and survival from natural disaster. The song is about the character back in his hometown, thinking about a woman he used to be with. Was Church trying to say with the video that he wanted to get rid of the problems as evidenced by the final scene of people marching holding signs saying "Je suis Charlie" and return to a simpler life?
As for the performance itself, Church and band were top shelf with a quiet start, which grew in intensity and spot on effusive vocals.
Clark showcased her pretty vocals on by far the most country performance of the three. Yoakam's sweet, warm baritone sure helped, but Clark showed you did not need videos or pyrotechnics to make a statement about one's abilities. One could argue that focusing on her voice and the song only underscored her abilities.
Clark, Church and Lambert all represented different shades of what is considered country these days quite well, while it was also nice to see Campbell be recognized and Cash win Grammys decades later. For Cash and company, it was a night to remember.