LOS ANGELES - Lil Nas X, Lady Gaga and Beyonce took home early Grammys on Sunday as the highest honors in the music industry kicked off under a cloud after the death of basketball star Kobe Bryant.
The music video for the viral hit "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X with Billy Ray Cyrus took home a Grammy, along with Beyonce's "Homecoming" which won for best music film.
Lady Gaga won two for her work on movie "A Star is Born," while slain rapper Nipsey Hussle won best rap performance for "Racks in the Middle."
The Grammy Awards show was taking place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the home of Bryant's team the Los Angeles Lakers.
Harvey Mason Jr, the interim Recording Academy chief, opened proceedings before the main show telecast with a call for a moment of silence. News of Bryant's death in a helicopter crash had broken about an hour earlier.
“Since we are in his house, I would ask you to join me in a moment of silence,” Mason said.
In the main show starting at 5 p.m. PT (0100 GMT Monday), teen sensation Billie Eilish looks set to crown a breakout year by taking home her first Grammys in a show that will feature the first Grammy performance by K-pop band BTS and a tribute to Hussle.
Eilish, who turned 18 in December, is nominated for six Grammys, competing with fellow newcomers R&B artists Lizzo and Lil Nas X for the top prizes - album, record, song of the year and best new artist.
All three will perform on the Grammy stage in Los Angeles for the first time, joining a roster of stars including Ariana Grande, the Jonas Brothers, Camila Cabello, Demi Lovato, Blake Shelton and rock band Aerosmith.
With her green hair, shapeless clothes, whispery vocals and hard to define musical style, Eilish took the music world by storm in 2019 with her debut album "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" and hit singles like "Bad Guy" and "Everything I Wanted."
She is also the youngest artist ever to have been chosen to write and perform the theme song for a James Bond movie. The song for "No Time To Die" has not yet been released.
Eilish "is in a rare position of being one of those artists that could sweep all four (top) categories, which does not happen very often," said Billboard's Melinda Newman, executive editor for the U.S. West Coast and Nashville.
Lizzo, the "Truth Hurts" singer and advocate for body positivity, has also proved to be a breath of fresh air, along with Lil Nas X, whose "Old Town Road" record of the year nominee collaboration with Billy Ray Cyrus spent 17 weeks at the top of the U.S. charts.
The viral song, which inspired numerous mashups, will get its own moment on Sunday when BTS, electronic dance musician Diplo and other artists join Lil Nas X and Cyrus for what show producers call a one-of-a-kind performance. It will mark the first Grammy performance by the South Korean boy band.
Country singer Shelton and his fiancee Gwen Stefani will debut their new romantic duet "Nobody But You," while John Legend, Meek Mill and DJ Khaled will perform a tribute to slain Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle, 33, who was gunned down in his own neighborhood last year. Hussle is up for three Grammy awards on Sunday.
The Grammy winners are chosen by members of the Recording Academy, which is currently embroiled in a dispute over the departure of its new chief executive Deborah Dugan and her allegations of conflicts of interest in the nominations process. The Recording Academy has denied the allegations and the dispute is not expected to affect the Grammy show.