Tue, Feb 13, 2007 - Page 16 News List

Dixie Chicks 'make nice' at the Grammys

The group, which had been blackballed by country stations for criticism of George W. Bush, won in every category for which it was nominated

AFP , LOS ANGELES

The Dixie Chicks, who took home five Grammy Awards, from left to right, Emily Robinson, Natalie Maines and Martie Maguire, arrive for the Sony BMG Post Grammy Party Sundayin Beverly Hills, California.

PHOTO: AP

Outspoken country trio the Dixie Chicks swept the 49th Grammy awards late Sunday with their hit single Not Ready To Make Nice, a song that tackles their vocal criticism of President George W. Bush.

The all-female group unexpectedly walked off with the album, record and song of the year as well as best country album and best country group performance — winning every category they had been nominated in.

"I think people are using their freedom of speech here tonight with all these awards. We get the message ... I'm very humbled," said singer Natalie Maines, accepting the coveted best album award.

It was Maines who infamously said during a London gig in 2003: "We're ashamed the president is from Texas."

The comment resulted in their music being banned by country music stations and even sparked death threats.

Singer Emily Robison said after receiving the best country album award: "We wouldn't have done this album without everything we went through, so we have no regrets."

Despite country music stations snubbing the group, Taking the Long Way opened at number one in the charts when it came out last year, almost instantly selling over half a million copies.

But the Dixie Chicks' success came at the expense of several other artists, notably hip-hop diva Mary J. Blige, who had led the nominations with nods in eight categories and was tipped to win big.

Instead Blige had to content herself with best R and B song, album and performance for Be Without You from her platinum-selling The Breakthrough, which has sold more than 2.7 million copies in the US alone.

"I thank you so much," a tearful Blige said, accepting her first award.

"For so many years I have been talked about negatively but this time I'm being talked about positively by so many people."

US blues rocker John Mayer scored two hits in the best male pop vocalist category and best pop vocal album for his Continuum, despite missing out in the best album category.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers picked up four awards, including best rock song for the group's Dani California and best rock album for their Stadium Arcadium.

The 1980s funk rock band were among a packed roll call of artists to perform live at the glittering gala, which The Police opened with a thumping reunion performance of Roxanne, more than 20 years after the trio split up.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are The Police and we're back," frontman Sting said, to rapturous applause. The appearance has fueled speculation that the group is set to announce a world tour to mark their 30th anniversary.

Other performers included Christina Aguilera, Beyonce and Gnarls Barkley, who picked up two awards, one for best alternative album.

Elsewhere, it was a disappointing evening for British singer-songwriter James Blunt, nominated in five categories including best song, record and newcomer categories for his hit ballad You're Beautiful.

Instead US country singer Carrie Underwood, who found fame as the winner of television talent show American Idol, won the best new artist award and thanked the show for its role in her rise to stardom.

Bob Dylan won the best solo rock vocal performance, beating Tom Petty and fellow sexagenarian Neil Young.

Surprisingly, one of the biggest cheers of the evening was for former vice president Al Gore, who presented the best rock album award with Queen Latifah.

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