LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Amy Winehouse may have been physically absent from the Grammy awards on Sunday, but her presence was strong as the famously troubled singer won four awards, including song of the year for her autobiographical hit â€œRehab.â€
Kanye West, who had a leading eight nominations, also won four awards: best rap album for â€œGraduation,â€ best solo performance for â€œStronger,â€ best rap song for â€œGood Lifeâ€ and best rap performance by a duo or group for his collaboration with Common on â€œSouthside.â€
West paid tribute to his deceased mother in a performance. Donda West died unexpectedly last year at age 58.
With MAMA etched into his haircut, West launched into â€œHey Mama,â€ a celebratory tune from his second album that has now turned into a somber ode.
â€œI know youâ€™re really proud of me right now and I know you want me to be the No. 1 artist in the world and Mama,â€ West said in an acceptance speech, â€œall Iâ€™m going to do is keep making you proud.â€
Winehouse was sprung from a rehab center to sing for the show via satellite from a London studio. Besides song of the year and best new artist, she also won best pop vocal album for â€œBack to Blackâ€ and best female pop vocals.
Bruce Springsteen took three pre-show Grammys, including best rock song for â€œRadio Nowhere.â€ Other early winners included the White Stripes, Justin Timberlake and Mary J. Blige with two each, the Foo Fighters, Herbie Hancock and even Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for best spoken-word album.
Though the pre-telecast ceremony, where most of the Grammysâ€™ 110 categories are doled out, is usually low on star-wattage, there were several big names on hand to accept their trophies, including Carrie Underwood, the Foos and Brad Paisley.
â€œYou couldnâ€™t keep me from actually getting this myself â€” itâ€™s not the same when someone else gets this on your behalf,â€ said Underwood.
In any other year, West would have been the main storyline thanks to his history of awards-show tirades, his huge album â€œGraduationâ€ and the shocking death of his mother. But the absent Winehouse, up for six trophies, threatened to upstage West and everyone else.
The 24-year-old singer-songwriterâ€™s personal life has fallen apart over the past year as her career blossomed.
As the ceremony approached, suspense built over whether she would appear. She was rejected Thursday for a U.S. work visa, and Grammy producers arranged for her to perform via telecast. Soon afterward, the U.S. government reversed itself and approved Winehouse, but it was too late for her to make the cross-continental trek.
The retro-soul singerâ€™s top-selling American debut was also up for song and record of the year for â€œRehab.â€
-Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press Staff Writer