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Arts & Entertainment
No controversy after Grammy awards ceremony



Bill Miller took home the Best Native American Music Album for Cedar Dream Songs. Photo © WireImage.

Black Eagle of Jemez Pueblo opened the pre-televised ceremony. Photo © Reuters.

Ozomatli picked up Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album for Street Signs. Photo © WireImage.

Los Lonely Boys won Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for "Heaven" from their debut. Photo © WireImage.

The producers and performers of Slack Key Guitar Volume 2 picked up first-ever Best Native Hawaiian Music Album award. Photo © WireImage.
There were no smoking teepees on stage last night at the 47th annual Grammy Awards ceremony. No women in faux-buckskin outfits gyrating suggestively. And no "chief" in Indian headdress either.

This time around, the Grammys exuded a sense of class that was largely due to many honors bestowed on the legendary Ray Charles, who died last year at the age of 73. His last effort, "Genius Loves Company," picked up a total of eight awards -- the most of the night -- including Album of the Year.

"It just shows how wonderful music can be," said singer Norah Jones, who appeared on the album of duets and accepted the award on behalf of Charles.

It also helped that Los Lonely Boys, a trio of mixed-heritage Mexican and Native brothers from West Texas performed in the show's opener. The Garzas played their hit "Heaven" in the middle of the audience and won the Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group, the first award of the night, for the track.

The primetime broadcast, though, did not include the presentation for the Best Native American Album. That honor went to first-time winner Bill Miller, a member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, for his "Cedar Dreams Songs," a collection of flute instrumentals.

"I thought I'd be a loser today," the singer-songwriter said during the pre-televised ceremony. "I've felt that way all my life, but this country is coming around."

Miller is the fifth recipient of the award, which debuted in 2000 after years of lobbying by Native artists and industry leaders. The category was at first limited to "traditional" artists -- a label that mostly meant pow-wow and drum music -- but has expanded over the years to include more contemporary flavors.

In other awards, the very first Best Hawaiian Music Album went to "Slack Key Guitar Volume 2," produced by Charles Michael Brotman. The album showcases 10 of the most renowned players a unique styleof guitar playing known as ki ho'alu, or "loosen the key," in the Native Hawaiian language.

Ozomatli, a multi-cultural group that combines its indigenous Mexican heritage with Latin, funk, reggae and other styles, took home the Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album award for "Street Signs."

Miller and the other winners are likely to see increased sales as a result of their Grammy award and publicity. Just being nominated often leads to a boost.

Last year, the Grammys and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences endured a barrage of criticism for the show-closing performance by the hip-hop group OutKast. Frontman Andre 3000 sang the hit "Hey Ya!" backed by scantily clad women wearing Indian-themed costumes while a man wearing a headdress could be seen on stage as a large teepee bellowed smoke. The University of Southern California marching band later appeared, its members' faces covered in war paint.

A CBS spokesperson apologized if anyone was offended by the display but a formal apology from NARAS or the group never materialized. The Oneida Nation of New York, which had sponsored Grammy-related events in the past, condemned the performanceand did not host its Native music showcase this year.

The National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Cultural Center of San Francisco also blasted the performance as disrespectful to Native culture. Tom Bee, a mutliple Grammy winner and owner of the Sound of American Records music label, protested as well, urging NARAS to address the controversy.

Bee's work led to the inclusion of Black Eagle, a drum group from Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico that won the Native award last year and was nominated again this year, to open last night's ceremony. The performance, a last-minute addition, was not televised.

"This is a big deal," Bee, the group's producer, told The Santa Fe New Mexican. "At least this is a start to the healing process from last year."

Relevant Links:
Bill Miller - http://www.billmiller.net
GRAMMYs - http://www.grammy.com