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More Than Just KanyeFest '05

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 14, 2005 4:56PM

So depending on which paper you favor, Kanye West either cast a long shadow over the rest of the Grammy nominees or was overshadowed.

True, West walked away from the night with only three of the ten awards for which he was nominated. But really: why would you want the Best New Artist award anyway? (Hey, Maroon 5! Say hi to Christopher Cross, Hootie and the Starland Vocal Band on the road to oblivion). As Ricky Martin could tell you, it’s not so much the number of awards you take home, as it is the impression you make and Kanye delivered the hands-down best performance of the evening (though we’ll admit that’s not saying much considering the hot-as-a-wet-paper-towel J. Lo/Marc Anthony duet and the karaoke-level songcraft that was the tribute to Southern rock). Other Chicago winners included Wilco for best alternative album and best recording package (snicker, snicker) and “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow,” a song that won Brian Wilson his first Grammy for best instrumental performance. Chicagoist is hoping we can get on the list next year for a Grammy lifetime achievement award since they seem to be giving those out like candy nowadays. We’ve been doing a kickass rendition of “Roxanne” in the shower for years.

The two smaller Chicago stories of the night focused on two overlooked musical genres: children’s music and tropical latin. 2005_02_14_jenkins.jpgThough she won a lifetime achievement award last year, Ella Jenkins still has a very active career, thank you very much. Her cELLAbration album picked up a Grammy last night and she continues to perform locally. Last year, Ms. Jenkins was the recipient of a Chicagoan of the Year award from Chicago Magazine for a career that spans six decades.

2005_02_14_mambo.jpgAnd though Angel Melendez and the 911 Mambo Orchestra didn’t take home the Grammy last night, it was probably just an honor to be nominated, as this was the group’s first CD and they were up against some heavyweights. Having already achieved critical mass here in Chicago, this national recognition will undoubtedly boost their profile. You can listen to some samples of their album here and catch Angel Melendez live at Pete Miller’s in Evanston on March 5th.