Category: Awards

Latin jazz Grammy category reinstated, two others added

  Bobby Sanabria was among Latin jazz artists who protest Grammy Awards elimination of their category last year
A year after the Recording Academy ignited a firestorm of protest in portions of the jazz and Latin communities by eliminating its Grammy Award category for Latin jazz music, the category has been reinstated as part of annual award revisions that also include two new categories and more changes in other areas of music industry recognition.

A coalition of jazz artists and Latin community activities sued the Recording Academy in an attempt to rescind the changes, but a New York judge dismissed the suit in April. This week’s announcement of category revisions by the academy’s board of trustees is being greeted by affected members as akin to losing a battle but winning the war.

“This member of the community is thrilled,” veteran Latin jazz musician Bobby Matos said Friday. “Restoring this category is a huge step in giving us some dignity and some respect.”

Musicians including Carlos Santana, Paul Simon and Playboy Jazz Festival emcee Bill Cosby were among the celebrities who joined the outcry against the elimination of the Latin jazz category.

Despite the lawsuit, which Recording Academy President Neil Portnow described this week as “distracting” and a significant expense to the group, Portnow had said the board would continue to evaluate the relevance of various categories when it met to consider ongoing revisions.

Last year’s dramatic changes resulted in a net reduction of 31 categories, from 109 to 78. Many of the changes came in niche categories of jazz, classical music, folk, roots and R&B. This year, awards will be distributed in 81 categories.

“With the focus squarely on ensuring the awards process is pertinent within the current musical landscape, the Board of Trustees continues to demonstrate its passionate commitment to keeping the Recording Academy a relevant and responsive organization in our dynamic music community," Portnow said in a statement issued Friday.

"Every year, we diligently examine our awards structure, including evaluating proposals, to develop an overall guiding vision and ensure that it remains a balanced and viable process, as well as maintains the prestige of the highest and only peer-recognized award in music,” Portnow’s statement said.

That philosophy was at the heart of Latin jazz enthusiasts’ protests over last year’s move.

“Jazz is a niche music, and Latin jazz is more of a niche music,” Matos said. “The public perceives the Grammy Awards to be the recording industry’s awards of excellence, and that’s what they were meant to be. How can you do anything meaningful as an artist if your category of music is not recognized? Millions of people don’t know what Latin jazz is, and if they don’t find out from the Grammys, how are they ever going to know about it?”

“Latin jazz is the original world music, as far as I’m concerned,” Matos said. “It has elements of jazz, of Italian romantic music, of English country dances, of African American blues and African gospel music. It’s truly a world music — not just Latin music.

“I’m so happy,” he said. “We don’t go into Latin jazz to make a lot of money. We do it out of passion and love. That’s the only reason.”

The other changes in the Latin field are the split of the Latin pop, rock or urban album Grammy into two awards: Latin pop and Latin rock, urban or alternative album; additionally, separate awards for banda or norteño album and regional Mexican or Tejano album are being merged into a new category for regional Mexican music album (including Tejano).

Also new for next year’s Grammy Awards ceremony, scheduled for Feb. 10 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Recording Academy’s board has added a “classical compendium” award to recognize classical albums that incorporate some pop or other nonclassical elements; and a new “urban contemporary album” category under the R&B field for “artists whose music includes the more contemporary elements of R&B and may incorporate production elements found in urban pop, urban europop, urban rock, and urban alternative.”

RELATED:

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-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Latin jazz musician Bobby Sanabria, shown here arriving for the Grammy ceremony in 2008,  was part of a group that sued the Recording Academy last year for eliminating the Latin jazz Grammy Awards category. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press

CMT Music Awards: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Carrie Underwood, more

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The CMT Music Awards, which celebrates the best country music videos of the year, took place Wednesday night in Nashville and, unsurprisingly, superstar singer Carrie Underwood snagged the top awards.

The singer earned the video of the year award for her fashion-heavy music video for "Good Girl," which presents Underwood in different outfits while she sings a country rock song (more rock than country, really) about the perils and pleasures of being a bad girl. She won a second trophy in the collaborative video of the year category for her work with Brad Paisley on "Remind Me."

The event proved itself a "big tent" under which many different affiliations fit; not only did Underwood's commercial, relatively twang-less "Good Girl" get attention, but performances from the Pistol Annies, whose "Takin' Pills" also focuses on perils and pleasures -- of pharmaceuticals -- and Journey, whose non-country song "Don't Stop Believin' " was gentle enough for a twang crossover, offered evidence of the oft-slippery genre-distinctions. 

Too, in a highly anticipated across-the-aisle moment, both President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney briefly appeared during the ceremony's opening moments via video, where both treated with faux-seriousness the selection of either Toby Keith or Kristin Bell as the CMT host.

The president, seen staring out the window of (presumably) the White House, called the choice "one of the toughest decisions I've had to make since I've been in office." On a ballot, the president circles the two contenders, before saying, "I want them both." (Both candidates did this spineless gesture and opted for both -- when Keith obviously should have been sent packing.)

A full list of winners is below:

Video of the year: Carrie Underwood -- "Good Girl"

Male video of the year: Luke Bryan -- "I Don't Want This Night to End"

Female video of the year: Miranda Lambert -- "Over You"

Group video of the year: Lady Antebellum -- "We Owned the Night"

Duo video of the year: Thompson Square -- "I Got You"

USA Weekend breakthrough video of the year: Scott McCreery -- "The Trouble With Girls"

Collaborative video of the year: Brad Paisley with Underwood -- "Remind Me"

CMT performance of the year: Jason Aldean -- "Tattoos on This Town"

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President Obama, Mitt Romney to cameo on CMT Awards

-- Randall Roberts
Twitter: @liledit

Photo: Musicians Ashley Monroe, left, Angaleena Presley and Miranda Lambert of the Pistol Annies perform onstage at the 2012 CMT Music Awards on June 6, 2012, in Nashville. Credit: Jason Merritt / Getty Images

President Obama, Mitt Romney cameo on 2012 CMT Music Awards

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have taped cameos for the 2012 CMT Music Awards show
It may be hard to imagine President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney agreeing on anything, but apparently they’ve found common ground in country music.

The rival presidential candidates have taped what’s described as “a comedic opening segment” for tonight’s 2012 CMT Music Awards show running at 8 p.m. on the country music cable channel.

Obama has previously shown himself to be a capable crooner of the blues (he sang a snippet of “Sweet Home Chicago” during a recent salute to the blues at the White House) and silky R&B (a tidbit of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” at a fundraiser in Harlem earlier this year). Meanwhile, at a January campaign stop in Florida, Romney showed off his vocal skills on “America the Beautiful.”

It’s not the first presidential presence at the CMT awards. During the 2008 election year, the three leading candidates -- Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain -- also delivered taped cameo appearances.

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Grammys set for Feb. 10 in Los Angeles

Adele

The 55th annual Grammy Awards will be held Feb. 10, 2013, the Recording Academy announced  Thursday.

“Music's Biggest Night” will once again take place at the Staples Center, with the academy’s nomination concert special airing Dec. 5, 2012.

RELATED: 2012 Grammy coverage

This year's telecast drew nearly 40 million viewers, the largest audience since 1984 and the second largest in history. The telecast also boasted the highest ratings of the award show season, and became one of the largest social events in the history of television, with social networks buzzing over Adele's Grammy sweep and the emotional impact of the ceremony as pop icon Whitney Houston passed away the day before, forcing organizers to revamp the show in the eleventh hour.

The Grammy winners are determined by about 13,000 voting members. The eligibility period for nominated recordings is Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012. The awards will be televised on CBS and will be broadcast live except to viewers on the West Coast.

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Adele affirmed, Whitney Houston mourned

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-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Adele sweeps at the 54th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 12, 2012. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Billboard Music Awards: A few observations

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The 2012 Billboard Music Awards, which aired live for East Coasters from the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas Sunday night, earned the right to be called the most awkwardly awesome three hours (yes, three?!) of music to hit TV so far this year.

Raucous pop jokers LMFAO stripped down to their undies in the opening, Whitney Houston was beautifully feted, Taylor Swift was shocked to get yet another trophy, Justin Bieber outperformed Usher and Chris Brown, and platinum-selling pop stars either played karaoke or mimed their way through performances of their own hits.

Like the American Music Awards and Video Music Awards, the statuettes that are handed out don’t quite matter here. Example: British powerhouse Adele collected 12 of the 46 statues handed out and didn't even show up, making the telecast largely a performance spectacle (seriously, producers could easily have chopped an hour out of this show).

PHOTOS: Red carpet at the Billboard Music Awards

A few, er, observations from the evening:

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Latin Grammys to allow 10 nominees for album of the year

Calle 13
The chance of winning an album of the year Latin Grammy just slightly improved. Coming to the 2012 Latin Grammy Awards is an expansion of the four top categories, which will now include 10 nominees apiece.

This adds five new contenders to best new artist, as well as the record, album and song of the year fields. The move would seem to foretell similar changes for the Grammy Awards and would follow like-minded tweaks by the Academy Awards and the Emmys. However, the Latin Recording Academy operates independently of the Recording Academy, with each maintaining a separate board of trustees.

"Each organization, independent of the other, reviews its awards process annually, evaluating proposals and recommendations to the process and then, ultimately, determining any changes to be made," said Barb Dehgan, the Recording Academy's vice president of communications and media relations.

The Recording Academy will meet in late May to discuss any changes to next year's Grammy telecast. President Neil Portnow earlier told Pop & Hiss that he "would anticipate there would be some changes this year," but he did not elaborate. 

Dehgan cautioned against reading too much into the Latin Grammy changes. She pointed out that the Latin Grammys recognize and balance works from multiple countries, whereas the Grammy Awards honor only domestic releases. 

Increasing the number of nominees has been an award show trend of late. In 2009, the Motion Picture Academy altered the rules for the Oscars to allow for 10 nominees in its best picture race. The rules were further amended in 2011 to allow for anywhere from five to 10 best picture contenders. Also in 2009, the Emmys began allowing six nominees instead of five in a number of major fields.

Specific rules as to how the 10 Latin Grammy nominees will be arrived at were not revealed. A press release from the Latin Recording Academy was vague, noting only that the body "will closely evaluate a formula that now includes 10 nominees."  

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Hal David, Burt Bacharach honored in D.C. with Gershwin Prize

Stevie Wonder salutes Hal David and Burt Bacharach in Washington D.C.
Lyricist Hal David and composer Burt Bacharach were saluted Tuesday night in Washington as recipients of the 2012 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song bestowed by the Library of Congress, the first time the honor has been given to a songwriting team.

The singer most closely associated with the Bacharach-David songbook, Dionne Warwick, sang “This Guy’s in Love With You” and was joined at the event by Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Lyle Lovett, Mike Myers and other performers who sang songs David and Bacharach wrote together during their long collaboration from the late 1950s into the 1970s.

Dionne Warwick salutes Hal David and Burt Bacharach in Washington D.C.Wonder sang “Alfie” and “Make It Easy,” Krall took “The Look of Love,” Crow gave her rendition of “Walk On By,” Lovett did “Always Something There to Remind Me” and Myers sang “What’s New Pussycat” in recognition of the important role Bacharach and David’s music played in his “Austin Powers” films, all three of which included a cameo appearance by Bacharach.

The ceremony was videotaped and will be aired on PBS stations premiering May 21. Other performers included Arturo Sandoval, Michael Feinstein, Rumer and Shelea.

Bacharach, 83, was on hand for the ceremony; David, 90, is recuperating from a recent illness and was unable to attend. Bacharach said winning the Gershwin Prize surpassed receiving an Oscar.

Winning an Academy Award, he said, gives you a “spike up your spine that is an unbelievable feeling. But that’s for a score or a song. But it’s one thing. This is the whole conglomeration of my work that I’ve done. So it is the best of all awards possible. I mean that with all my heart.”

Feinstein told the crowd of lyricist Ira Gershwin’s fondness for the music of Bacharach and David.

“Ira loved the fact that Bacharach and David were continuing a tradition of finding fresh ways to express the feelings of the heart not only lyrically but musically,” said Feinstein, who performed “Close to You.” “He admired that because these were songs that he thought were accessible.”

“I have followed you since I was a little boy. The chord structures inspired me so much, the words, the lyrics. This song is an example of my appreciation,” Wonder said introducing his performance of “Alfie.”

When Wonder was young, he would sing their tunes to girls he was pursuing. He recalled singing “Make it Easy on Yourself” to one in particular.

“She quit me for another guy because he could take her to the movies at a particular time, and I didn’t feel like watching movies that night,” he quipped.

Previous recipients of the Library of Congress’ recently instituted Gershwin Prize include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney. The prize "celebrates the work of an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding," according to the Library's website.

Update at 5:38 p.m.: Librarian of Congress James H. Billington lauded the pair's compositions for helping "launch the careers of many of our nation’s most celebrated performers, and they continue to be played on iPods, radio, television, in movies, and performed in cabarets and on the Broadway stage." He added that the Bacharach-David songbook constitutes "without question one of the richest and most recognizable multi-generational playlists known to the world. Their creative talents have inspired songwriters for more than five decades, and their legacy is much in the tradition of George and Ira Gershwin, for whom this award is named."

The advisory committee for the 2012 award consisted of the three previous winners as well as Elvis Costello, Lee Ann Womack, Rickey Minor and Bobette Dudley.

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-- Randy Lewis

Photos, from top: Stevie Wonder saluting Hal David and Burt Bacharach in Washington; Dionne Warwick at Tuesday's ceremony for the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Credits: Abby Brack Lewis / Library of Congress Photos.

Guns N' Roses: Drummer Matt Sorum on Rock Hall, surviving the band

Matt Sorum of Guns N Roses has issued a statement about the group's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum has spoken out about his role in Saturday’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in Cleveland, issuing a statement he said is intended to “bring closure to the night’s events” and to “alleviate numerous press statements and interviews about the subject.”

Chief among them was fan and media debate over which members of GNR’s ever-shifting lineup ought to be inducted and who attended and who didn’t on Saturday after singer Axl Rose’s high-profile decision to boycott the event, which Sorum said "should be respected." 

Sorum also said it was his suggestion that the inducted band members — including himself, guitarist Slash, drummer Steven Adler and bassist Duff McKagan — invite guitarist Gilby Clarke to join them and guest singer Myles Kennedy during their performance. The songs followed an induction speech delivered by Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong.

Plus Sorum elaborated on his joke from the stage about how Adler had been dismissed from the band because of his drug use, suggesting that feat warranted an award in and of itself. Sorum said original guitarist Izzy Stradlin, like Rose, declined the Hall’s invitation to attend the ceremony but didn’t indicate why keyboardist Dizzy Reed, who joined the band in 1990 and also was selected for Hall of Fame induction, didn't attend.

Here’s the body of Sorum’s statement:

“In these last few months since getting notice about being inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, many emotions and feelings have gone through my head and heart, as well as the original five members of GN'R: Axl, Slash, Duff, Izzy and Steven. I was also chosen to be inducted, along with Dizzy Reed.

“It was slightly awkward for me in some ways knowing some fans have the original five in their hearts for a reunion. I chose to say to Slash and Duff, ‘Please have Steven play, and let me know what you would like me to do.’

“Two days before the event. Axl made his statement known. And it was apparent he wouldn't be attending. In respect to him, that is his decision and should be honored. Also, Izzy declined. So I suggested Slash call Gilby [Clarke], who was left out of the proceedings. Gilby was a member of the band and contributing to the ‘Use Your Illusions’ World Tour, which took us around the globe for three years, as well as playing guitar on ‘Spaghetti Incident’ and ‘The Live Era’ albums. It felt like the right thing to do.

“In fairness to the rest of the original line-up and myself, we decided to go ahead and attend. This is an honor that is once in a lifetime and couldn't be missed, especially for fans of the band. To us, it was honoring them as well.

“Regarding playing live, we agreed that we would share the stage together, joined by Myles Kennedy as guest singer, who did a fine job filling big shoes. Steven graciously offered ‘Brownstone’ and played two other ‘Appetite’ tracks, and I sang and joined him near the kit on ‘Paradise City.’

“It felt perfect for all involved.

“In my speech, I made references to drugs and Steven being dismissed from the band, in which I referred to, 'How could someone be fired from Guns N’ Roses for doing too many drugs??'"

“It was meant to be light-hearted. But knowing the struggles Steven has endured all these years. I felt I needed to clarify that Steven was onstage, healthy, and ready to rock.

“It is well known that the rest of the band has endured addiction and alcoholism and at this point in our lives, we are all healthy and sober. Not to make light of drugs and alcohol…we were all full-blown addicts when the band split. What started out as a party and what we believed was part of the makeup of the band turned on all of us in the end.

“Many years of soul searching and reconnecting with our inner selves have brought glorious gifts: Velvet Revolver with millions of records sold and a Grammy, Steven with his new band, and more. We are now all playing music and making records on our own that is truly what we love, before any of the business of music came into play. The music has always been the passion, before anything else,

“Steven’s passion for GN’R is something that no one can explain but him: it’s a true love gone, but never forgotten. How many people have felt that in their lifetime?

“I told Steven and the rest of the guys the night of the Induction that night was for them and what they created on the streets of Hollywood, and it can never be taken away. The music will live on. And that's what counts. Not about who was there at the Induction. That the music will always be theirs and no can ever take that away.

“Also, I have much respect for my former band, The Cult. And all the musicians I have played with over the years. They have all taught me so much.

“I also need to thank my dearest and closest confidante, Ace Harper, who is my fiancée' and has made me a better man. She has walked beside in times of darkness, and has been there for me when all the stage lights and backstage parties were over.

“This is where life is for all of us now survivors of a Rock & Roll era you will never see the likes of again: Married men Slash with two wonderful boys, Duff with two beautiful girls, Steven happy with a beautiful wife.

“Life is good, my friends…we are alive! God Bless the fans of GN'R.

“Long Live Rock N Roll,

Matt Sorum (GN’R: “Use Your Illusion 1 and 2,” “The Spaghetti Incident,” “The Live Era”)

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— Randy Lewis

Photo of former Guns N' Roses members at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony: Gilby Clarke, left, Matt Sorum, Duff McKagan, Slash and Steven Adler. Credit: Michael Loccsiano / Getty Images.

Guns N' Roses reunites minus Axl Rose for Hall of Fame induction

Guns N Roses reunion Rock Hall of Fame
Axl Rose kept his promise to boycott Saturday’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland, but his former bandmates decided the Guns N’ Roses show must go on without him, gratefully accepting their statuettes before playing several vintage GNR songs with singer Myles Kennedy handling the vocals.

Kennedy, the singer in guitarist Slash’s current solo project and lead vocalist for Alter Bridge, stepped in to round out the lineup that also included bassist Duff McKagan, drummers Steven Adler and Matt Sorum, and guitarist Gilby Clarke in three songs from GNR’s 1987 debut album “Appetite for Destruction.”

Rose’s name drew choruses of boos and catcalls from the audience of about 7,400 at Cleveland’s Public Auditorium, where the ceremony took place. But Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong, who delivered the GNR introduction speech, shot back: “Shut up. He was the greatest frontman to ever step in front of a microphone.” He paused, then added: "But he is ... crazy. And I can vouch for that."

PHOTOS: 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction

McKagan took a diplomatic tack to diffuse fans’ disappointment, saying, “I don’t think it matters who’s up here tonight, because this is about the songs that band created.” They offered up “Mr. Brownstone,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Paradise City” from “Appetite,” which Armstrong lauded as “the greatest debut album in rock 'n' roll history.”

It was, however, comedian Chris Rock, during his introductory speech for GNR’s fellow L.A. inductees, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who provided what perhaps was the most salient point of the evening regarding Rose.

“A lot of people are disappointed that Axl Rose isn’t here,” said Rock as the ceremony stretched toward the 1 a.m. mark for the Chili Peppers’ performance. “But let’s face it, even if he was going to be here, he still wouldn’t be here yet.”

The Chili Peppers closed the show with an all-star jam including Slash, Faces (and Rolling Stones) guitarist Ron Wood, Armstrong and the funk pioneer hailed by both bassist Flea and singer Anthony Kiedis during their acceptance remarks, George Clinton.

(For the Record: An earlier edition of this post referred to Ron Wood as "Faces (and former Rolling Stones) guitarist. He still is a member of the Rolling Stones.)

Flea, nearly in tears at the end of their extended-jam version of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” told the crowd, “I love the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

A full report on the evening, which also welcomed new Hall of Fame members the Beastie Boys, Donovan, the Small Faces and Faces, and Laura Nyro, will appear in Monday’s Calendar section.

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Axl Rose pens letter to Rock Hall: won't attend, declines induction

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Guns N' Roses members Gilby Clarke, Matt Sorum, Duff McKagan, Slash and Steven Adler attend Saturday's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Credit: Michael Locciano / Getty Images

Taylor Swift's absentee awards show date is cancer patient

Taylor Swift won entertainer of the year at the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards
While accepting her second consecutive entertainer of the year award to cap Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony, Taylor Swift probably left more than a few viewers scratching their heads at her remark from the stage about her date who couldn’t join her.

After thanking fans whose votes landed her the ACM’s top honor, she said, “We work hard and we try to give back. Recently, I have been aware of a different struggle that is going on. My date tonight was supposed to be a high school football player named Kevin McGuire, and he is not here. But I promised him I’d give him a shout-out. So Kevin and all your family and friends, thank you for wanting to take me to the ACMs.”

She was talking about McGuire, a Somerdale, N.J., 18-year-old who has leukemia. His sister, Victoria, had launched a Facebook page in February hoping to persuade Taylor to attend his high school prom.

Swift responded with a post that said, "Kevin, I'm so sorry but I won't be able to make it to your prom. But I was wondering, the ACM Awards are coming up. Would you be my date? Love, Taylor."

On Saturday, his sister posted an update that her brother was too ill to attend.

"I am so sorry to announce this devastating news, but Kevin was admitted to the hospital last night, and is unable to attend the Academy of Country Music Awards with Taylor Swift,” she wrote. “As we should all live by the motto 'live for today,' a cancer patient feels the impact of these words far too hard. We appreciate everything you have done for us, and we know you are all hurt from this too. ... As for Taylor, she is just as depressed as all of us to miss out on this date, and we are so thankful for the opportunity she has given us."

Following that announcement, Swift tweeted, "Just talked to Kevin McGuire. He's not well enough to join me at the ACMs. Please keep him in your thoughts. I'll make it up to you, Kevin!"

McGuire, who was out of the hospital by Sunday and watched the show with family members at an Applebee's restaurant, told the Cherry Hill, N.J. Courier-Post, "I was perfectly fine the last two months. I didn't [get] sick or even sneeze. Before my flight I got sick. Someone out there, somehow, didn't want me going." Following a week of chemotherapy, he explained, "I had a fever and low blood counts. They're still pretty low. I'm trying to stay away from people."

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-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Taylor Swift with her second consecutive entertainer of the year award from the Academy of Country Music. Credit: Isaac Brekken / Associated Press.

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