Originally created 11/15/04

Usher caps big year with American Music Awards victory, claiming four trophies



LOS ANGELES - Usher's year of astonishing success with the chart-topping, best-selling album "Confessions" culminated with a clutch of trophies at the 32nd annual American Music Awards.

The suave 26-year-old singer was honored Sunday with a leading four trophies, including favorite male soul-R&B artist, best pop-rock album, best pop-rock artist and best soul-R&B album.

"Thank you for this moment. Thank you for this year," said Usher, whose album sold more than 1 million copies in its debut week. "It's been amazing."

Sunday's win underscores a host of awards Usher has received this year, positioning him to be a formidable factor in upcoming Grammy Award nominations.

It also was a good night for rap funksters OutKast, who brought home awards for favorite pop-rock band and favorite rap-hip-hop album for "Speakerboxxx-The Love Below." They also won best rap-hip-hop group.

Still, not everyone left happy.

Innovative rap newcomer Kanye West was shut out in all of his three nominations, including best new artist, which went to country singer Gretchen Wilson.

"I feel I was definitely robbed... I was the best new artist this year," West said backstage. "I don't know if I'll be back at this award show next year."

The ceremonies came as the rap world mourned O.D.B., the founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, who collapsed and died Saturday at a New York recording studio, two days before his 36th birthday.

In acceptance remarks, OutKast's Big Boi paid tribute briefly to the late rapper. "Rest in peace Old Dirty Bastard," Big Boi said. "We love you."

Backstage after performing with Snoop Dogg, producer and N.E.R.D. member Pharrell Williams called O.D.B.'s death a "shame," and suggested the rap community "should stick together a little more and it won't hurt as much next time."

"He was a great guy, a nice guy," Williams said.

The ABC telecast from the Shrine Auditorium was heavy on performances, some of them censored, although host Jimmy Kimmel and a few presenters got away with racy material.

Gwen Stefani, working without the band No Doubt, opened the show with "What You Waiting For?" and Lenny Kravitz followed with "Lady."

Usher performed "My Boo" with soul diva Alicia Keys, who won favorite female artist in the soul-R&B category, edging out Janet Jackson and Beyonce.

Brooks & Dunn earned their fourth award for favorite country band. Toby Keith won favorite country male artist and best country album, "Shock'n Y'All."

"A lot of work went into this project," Keith said. "This is cool."

Reba McEntire won top female country artist and country singer Kenny Chesney won a publicly voted award for favorite performer.

"I really didn't think anybody was going to beat Usher tonight," Chesney said.

Sheryl Crow won over Avril Lavigne and Jessica Simpson for favorite female pop-rock artist and also received the prize for adult contemporary artist. Rockers Linkin Park were favorite alternative music artist for the second year in a row.

In awards announced before the telecast, rapper Jay-Z won favorite male artist in the rap-hip-hop category. Marc Anthony won favorite Latin music artist, and the group MercyMe won best contemporary inspirational artist.

Kimmel poked fun at everything from pop music's lip-syncing problem to a 40-year-old clip of the Beatles, but his favorite target was Anna Nicole Smith after she appeared at turns disoriented and manic while introducing a song by West.

"I still think the best performance of the night was Anna Nicole Smith. I told her to stay away from Snoop Dogg's brownies," Kimmel quipped, referring to an early show skit where the rapper and troubled singer Bobby Brown pretended to be selling "$100 brownies."

Before the show on the red carpet, Jon Bon Jovi, whose legendary band received the Award of Merit at Sunday's ceremonies, told up-and-coming musicians: "Be true to who you are. Don't chase anyone else's fads or fashions. Do what you do naturally."

Nominees for the American Music Awards were chosen on the basis of record sales, with winners selected by a survey of about 20,000 listeners.

Winners at the 32nd annual American Music Awards:

Pop-Rock:

Male Artist: Usher.

Female Artist: Sheryl Crow.

Band, Duo or Group: OutKast.

Album: "Confessions," Usher.

Soul-R&B:

Male Artist: Usher.

Female Artist: Alicia Keys.

Album: "Confessions," Usher.

Country:

Male Artist: Toby Keith.

Female Artist: Reba McEntire.

Band, Duo or Group: Brooks & Dunn.

Album: "Shock'n Y'All," Toby Keith. Rap-Hip Hop:

Male Artist: Jay-Z.

Band, Duo or Group: OutKast.

Album: "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," OutKast.

Adult Contemporary:

Artist: Sheryl Crow. Latin Music:

Artist: Marc Anthony. Alternative Music:

Artist: Linkin Park. Contemporary Inspirational:

Artist: MercyMe. Breakthrough:

New Artist: Gretchen Wilson. Award of Merit:

Bon Jovi T-Mobile Text-In Award (voted by public):

Kenny Chesney.