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No-show Eminem sweeps American music awards

Los Angeles, Jan. 14 (Reuters): Rapper Eminem swept the American Music Awards yesterday, winning all four categories in which he was nominated, but he was one of several key winners who did not appear at the event.

Other no-shows included country trio the Dixie Chicks and rock band Creed, who each won two prizes. Another double winner, Ashanti, who led the field with five nominations, did attend the Shrine Auditorium event. She was named favourite new artist in both the pop/rock and hip-hop/R&B categories.

But she lost album races in those categories to Eminem, who was also named favourite male artist in those races. Eminem’s album The Eminem Show was the biggest release of 2002, with US sales to date of 7.7 million copies.

Rapper Nelly received four nominations, but had the misfortune to be going head-to-head with Eminem. Nelly did, however, win an Internet-based fans’ choice award.

The Dixie Chicks dominated the country category, winning the prizes for album (Home) and group. Creed won for alternative and pop/rock group. Ashanti was upstaged in the favourite female hip-hop/R&B category by Mary J. Blige, yet another no-show.

Tim McGraw, who opened the show by singing a duet with Elton John on John’s Tiny Dancer, left the venue before he was named favourite male country artist. Backstage, Ashanti said she felt “excellent” about winning two prizes. “I’m happy to be here, happy to be nominated. It’s a very prestigious award, so it’s a great night.”

Ashanti (last name Douglas) was one of the big breakthrough stories of 2002. Her chart-topping debut, Ashanti, has sold 3.1 million copies, and is also nominated for favourite pop/rock album. Sheryl Crow, winning the first American Music Award of her career for female pop/rock artist, accepted a prize while wearing a T-shirt declaring: “War is not the answer” — a nod to a line from Marvin Gaye song What’s Going On'

“War is based on greed, and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow,” Crow explained backstage. “And I think war is never the answer to solving our problems. I think the best way to solving problems is to not have enemies.” Other winners included R&B duo OutKast for hip-hop/R&B group, Martina McBride for female country artist, Carolyn Dawn Johnson for country newcomer, Enrique Iglesias for Latin music artist, Celine Dion for adult contemporary artist, and Avalon for contemporary inspirational artist.

Veteran country band Alabama received a special award of merit; former US President George Bush sent his congratulations via video. Performers included heavy metal scion Kelly Osbourne — whose family hosted the show — rapper Missy Elliott, pop star Mariah Carey, Canadian rock band Nickelback, country-pop singer Shania Twain and Christina Aguilera.

Backstage, Elton John said he was “very shocked” by news of rocker Pete Townshend’s child pornography arrest in London. “I’m a friend of Pete’s. I love Pete, and my thoughts are with him,” he added.

Townshend, 57-year-old guitarist and primary songwriter for the Who, was arrested by police yesterday on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.

He has admitted to viewing Internet child pornography but only in the name of research. Veteran artist Pat Boone, a presenter, said backstage it was “human nature to be curious about things that exist”.

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