Clapton, Young Country Star Win Grammys

NEW YORK -- Rock giant Eric Clapton won two of the music industry's top awards at the 39th annual Grammy ceremonies Wednesday, while a French Canadian singer and a 14-year-old country star stole the audience's heart.

Quebec native Celine Dion's "Falling Into You" was named album of the year and best pop album. The album of the year award was not totally unexpected, but Dion seemed shocked.

She took the stage of Madison Square Garden amid thunderous cheers, saying, "This is incredible, this is incredible. This is a dream come true." She ended a long speech filled with thank-you's to the people "in the shadows" by saying, in French, "Hello Quebec. I love you. Thank you very much."

Clapton, along with megastar producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, won the record of the year award for "Change the World." Clapton also won the best male pop vocal performance award, and the writers of the song from the John Travolta film "Phenomenon" walked off with the song of the year award.

Edmonds, who came into the awards ceremony with 12 nominations, the most of anyone, won three Grammys.

In one of the evening's biggest surprises, 14-year-old country singer LeAnn Rimes was named best new artist of the year, beating out groups called Garbage and No Doubt, Alaska-born singer Jewel and a one-man band known as the Tony Rich Project.

The awards spanned the generations, from 70-year-old Tony Bennett winning the best traditional pop vocal performance award to Rimes not only taking the new artist award but best female country vocal award as well.

"I never expected this at all," said Rimes, who was close to tears. Her hit album "Blue," recorded when she was only 11 years old, topped the country charts and placed third on the top 10 chart.

She become the youngest person to win multiple Grammys and the first country singer in 30 years to be named top new artist of the year.

"Success can be a great thing. It can also be the worst thing. I am going to keep myself grounded," she said.

The long-disbanded Beatles and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton were also winners.

Clinton won a Grammy in the spoken word category for the audiotape version of "It Takes a Village," her bestselling book about child-rearing that was roundly attacked by Republicans and defended by Democrats in the 1996 presidential campaign.

At a private ceremony before the start of the glittering TV special at Madison Square Garden to celebrate the main Grammy categories, a clearly pleased Clinton declared, "I was very surprised that they give Grammys to tone-deaf singers like me."

Clinton beat several experienced actors and broadcasters, including Garrison Keillor, Charles Kuralt, Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck, to become the first "first lady" to win a Grammy.

The Beatles, who broke up 27 years ago, also emerged a winner, snaring a Grammy for best pop duo or group with vocal for "Free as a Bird," a previously unreleased song that appeared on their 1996 album "Anthology." "Free as a Bird" also won the short-form video award and "Anthology" won the long-form video award. The Beatles have now won a total of seven Grammys. Their last Grammy was in 1967.

Bruce Springsteen, best known for his high energy rock 'n' roll, won the contemporary folk music award for his album, "The Ghost of Tom Joad," a haunting, quiet tribute to the great folk singers of the Depression era.

Smashing Pumpkins, the band that lost a keyboard artist to a heroin overdose the last time it played Madison Square Garden, won the best hard-rock performance award for "Bullet with Butterfly Wings."

Lyle Lovett won the best country music album award for his "The Road to Ensenada."

R&B diva Toni Braxton won the best female pop vocal performance award for "Un-Break My Heart." Braxton also won a Grammy as best female R&B vocalist for her song "You're Makin' Me High."

Alternative-rock star Beck won the best male rock performance for his song "Where It's At." Folk-rock singer Tracy Chapman won the best rock song award for her blues recording "Give Me One Reason."

The best rock album award went to Sheryl Crow for the album which bore her name.

Herbie Hancock, who made a rare foray into traditional jazz last year, won the best instrumental composition award for "Manhattan (Island of Lights and Love)."