It was a good night to be Jay-Z
New York's current "King of Hip Hop" won three trophies in a ceremony preceding the glitzy '53rd Annual Grammy Awards,' but didn't bother showing up to revel in what was branded as "Music's Biggest Night."
-- another hip hop icon, who was a supposed shoo-in to win the major award categories tonight – was there front and center. He even performed (ahem, shouted) an angst-riddled set featuring Dr. Dre, Rihanna
and an unidentified chanteuse who nearly put the Bajan beauty to shame. Yet, the Detroit native legally known as Marshall Mathers
only took home two trophies – after leading the pack with 10 nominations.
When it came to doling out the awards this year, that sentiment seemed to pretty much summed up the night from start to finish, though.
Surprises and shut-outs seemed to be the status quo at tonight's show; proving once again that just because you're a mainstream media darling, that doesn't necessarily mean you will win an award.
Ask Justin Bieber
The teen dream had one hell of a week; a Superbowl commercial, his debut movie raking in $30 million at the box-office its opening weekend, and a hyped-up Grammy Awards performance with his mentor/big "brotha," Usher Raymond,
and pal Jaden Smith
. He walked away empty handed.
It was him and the other mainstream media darling, Drake
, who were duking it out for the coveted trophy for Best New Artist. They both were plastered over covers, appeared on late night talk shows and their names were ubiquitous on Viacom-owned music-centric networks like MTV and BET. Who won? Neither; the relatively unknown classical instrumentalist/singer Esperanza Spalding
A favorite of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, she's also recently toured with Prince
-- after being hand-picked by The Artist for his BET Awards tribute last year.
Primarily known as a jazz bassist, the Portland, Oregon native has served a professor at Berklee College of Music and has recorded with M. Ward
She, herself, seemed shocked at the big win. "Thank you to the Academy for even nominating in this category," she gushed as she approached the podium. "Thank you to the beautiful family of musicians I'm so blessed to be a part of ...I take this honor to heart so sincerely and I'll do my damndest to make a whole lot of great music for all of you. It's such a blessing and an honor. God bless."
Spalding, 26, joins a growing list of music superstars who won the honors over the years, including Bette Midler, Natalie Cole, Jody Watley, Sade, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Carrie Underwood, Adele
, and John Legend
, who introduced her for the award.
Her third album, 'Chamber Music Society,' was recorded last year and received critical acclaim in the classic music genre featuring her ethereal vocals and upright bass playing.
Below are other noteworthy scenes from the '53rd Annual Grammy Awards':