Carey, one of the best-selling artists of all time, hadn't won a Grammy since her first two as a fresh-faced ingenue in 1990. On Wednesday, she won three in the pre-telecast ceremony, including best contemporary R&B album for “The Emancipation of Mimi.”
She had the opportunity to make history later in the evening. Nominated for a leading eight Grammy nominations, tied with Kanye West and John Legend, she could become the first female artist to win six in a single evening (Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill and Beyonce each have five apiece.)
However, Carey lost to Aretha Franklin for best traditional R&B vocal performance, and to Kelly Clarkson's triumphant “Since U Been Gone” for best female pop vocal performance.
“I'm sorry I'm crying again on national television,” said Clarkson, the former “American Idol,” tearful and shaking as she held her first Grammy. “Thank you so much, you have no idea what this means to me.”
Triple winners and perennial Grammy favorites U2 won for best rock album for “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.” They still had a chance to win best song and album of the year.
U2's The Edge said the award meant a lot to the group, “but even more precious than the awards is the gift you've all afforded us, you've allowed us to continue to make our music.”
U2 provided one of the more rousing performances in the jam-packed show as they sung their hit Vertigo, then collaborated with R&B queen Mary J. Blige's gospel-inflected fervor for their classic “One.”
West's three Grammys matched his total for last year. The brash rapper/producer played up (or lived up to) his egotistical reputation as he won best rap album for “Late Registration.
For a complete list of Grammy award winners, visit: www.grammy.com.