The 50th anniversary Grammy Awards actually started in the middle of the day today, with 100 awards handed out in the pre-telecast portion of the event.
Kanye West, who leads the field with eight nominations, took home three during the pre-telecast, including best rap solo performance for "Stronger," best rap performance for "Southside," by Common featuring West and best rap/sung collaboration for "Good Life" by West and featuring T-Pain.
"People watching at home may think that music's biggest night is a couple of hours away, but we in this room know music's biggest night starts now," said Jimmy Jam, Recording Academy Chairman of the Board of Trustees. "It's through your efforts that our often troubled world is treated to the healing sounds and the power of music."
Dirty Harry, Kerry Brothers & Alicia Keys won for best R&B song for "No One," while there was a tie for best gospel performance between the Clark Sisters for "Blessed & Highly Favored" and Aretha Franklin & Mary J. Blige for "Never Gonna Break My Faith," a track that featured the Harlem Boys Choir. Franklin and Blige's track appeared in the movie "Bobby," and represents Franklin's 18th Grammy win.
For the first time, a Grammy was handed out for best zydeco/cajun music album, which went to Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience for "Live! Worldwide." In addition, Simien performed at the pre-telecast ceremony.
Among the other winners: the best score soundtrack album went to Michael Giacchino, the composer for "Ratatouille." Siedah Garret & Henry Krieger's "Love You I Do," from "Dreamgirls," won best song written for motion picture, television or other visual media. The track was nominated at last year's Academy Awards, but lost out to Melissa Etheridge's "I Need To Wake Up" from the global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."
The audience whooped it up when Barack Obama won his second Grammy for best spoken world album for "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream." One of his fellow nominees? Former President Bill Clinton, for "Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World."
The event, hosted by Patti Austin and Peter Frampton, started at Staples Center four hours before the televised Grammys began.