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American Music Awards: Notes from backstage

Paula Paula Abdul might not be returning as a judge on reality TV juggernaut "American Idol," but backstage at the American Music Awards on Sunday night -- where she was one of the few presenters and performers to visit the press -- she was still every bit the proud "relative" of the "Idol" alums. "It's very surreal and very exciting," she said of being around so many of the young performers she helped mentor over her years with the series. "Its amazing to see them. While presenting, I could see Carrie [Underwood] and [Adam] Lambert. And just now I watched Kelly [Clarkson]."

As for what's next for her career post-"Idol," Abdul remained tight-lipped. "You'll be hearing about it very soon," she said.

After winning the country male artist prize, Keith Urban had only one thing on his mind: some downtime with his family -- wife Nicole Kidman and the couple's young daughter, Sunday. "This is the first time we'll be able to take her to Australia," Urban said.

Urban said he remains grateful for his success: "I just love playing music. I've come from a place where I've played in front of three people to a place where I play in front of thousands."

In one evening, Gloriana went from being virtually unknown to the act that beat out favorite Lady Gaga for the breakthrough artist of the year prize. Backstage, the country quartet was still baffled at their victory. "Hands down, we thought Lady Gaga was gonna win," said Rachel Reinert. "We just freaked out when they called our name."

She said the band owed a great deal of credit to Taylor Swift, who selected Gloriana to open for her on tour. "We're so thankful to Taylor," Reinert said.

"She called us just now and says, 'OMG, I always believed you could do it. I just didn't think you could do it,' " member Tom Gossin gushed before watching Swift accept her fifth award of the evening via satellite from London, where she was rehearsing for an upcoming performance.

The quartet, comprised of brothers Michael and Tom Gossin, Reinert and Cheyenne Kimball, said they needed to figure out a way to fairly share the pyramid-shaped statue. "We're gonna have to glue it to the front of our bus," Kimball joked.

Accepting two posthumous awards during the telecast for his late brother was a "very emotional" experience for Jermaine Jackson. With his wife and kids at his side, the brother of the late king of pop said he's still dealing with the loss, but he pointed out that the size of the Jackson family makes things easier because there is "strength in numbers. [The support] means a lot. There is so much work that has gone into his music," Jackson said of Michael's work. "That's what this family is about."

"It was very emotional, but it was a wonderful night," Jackson said. "And Janet was just electrifying."

Jennifer Lopez might have taken a tumble during her performance of her new single, "Louboutins," but Black Eyed Peas' frontman will.i.am was too much of a gentleman to notice. "She didn't fall, that's a move," he joked backstage. "It's called the pop up."

He admitted that he's never experienced a spill like that in front of an audience but said he was impressed with Lopez's quick recovery. "She's devoted. She came out of it. You don't laugh at how you fall, you applaud how you came out of it."

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Matt Sayles / Associated Press

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