The country field held few surprises, honoring both the genre's legends and its current superstars. Alan Jackson won his first Grammy for his Sept. 11 anthem Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning); Johnny Cash won his 11th for Give My Love to Rose, a song he first recorded nearly half a century ago. Willie Nelson won his ninth award for his Mendicino County Line duet with Lee Ann Womack. Faith Hill won best female country vocal performance for Cry, though during her live performance of the song she seemed to be forcing her notes and roasting in the glare of the spotlights.
The Dixie Chicks, who performed a homey version of Fleetwood Mac's Landslide, continued to curry Grammy favor. They won their third country album award in as many releases, one of three the trio took home Sunday. The group's album, Home, also received a best recording package Grammy.
Youthful acoustic trio Nickel Creek came of age with a contemporary folk album win over the likes of Johnny Cash and The Chieftains. On the traditional side, 79-year-old guitarist Doc Watson and collaborator David Holt won for a three-disc retrospective that tells Watson's story with a series of tunes and interviews.
Perhaps the night's most astonishing upset came offscreen, in the contemporary soul gospel album category. The practically unknown Eartha, whose album Sidebars had sold a total of 52 units at SoundScan-tracked stores before its nomination, bested more established acts such as BeBe Winans and Fred Hammond.