The biggest winners at Sunday night’s 31st annual American Music Awards weren’t even there to pick up their trophies. With no clear favorites coming into the ceremony (some 14 artists earned two nominations each), Luther Vandross and 50 Cent came out the night’s top winners, earning two trophies each. In the Soul/R&B category, the ailing Vandross won Favorite Male Artist and Favorite Album (”Dance With My Father”), while 50 Cent won the same trophies in the Rap/Hip-Hop category, thanks to his debut album ”Get Rich or Die Tryin’.”
It’s not clear why the rapper didn’t attend the gala; Vandross, of course, is still recuperating from his stroke in April. ”I’m so very sorry that Luther cannot be here tonight in person,” Mary Vandross told the audience on her son’s behalf. ”I’m here to represent him and say thanks to all of you who made this possible.”
Also almost missing in action was Missy Elliott (Favorite Female Artist, Rap/Hip-Hop), who claimed someone at her hotel swiped her limo. Veterans Fleetwood Mac, who won Favorite Band (Pop/Rock category) were in Hamburg, Germany, but accepted live via satellite. Favorite Pop/Rock Album winner Justin Timberlake (”Justified”) was also in Germany, in Cologne, and also accepted via satellite. Aaliyah won Favorite Female Artist (Soul/R&B), her third AMA since her death in 2001.
In the country category, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw took home husband-and-wife trophies for Favorite Female and Male Artist. Other AMA winners included Alabama (Favorite Band, Country), Toby Keith (Favorite Album, Country, for ”Unleashed”), Kid Rock (Favorite Male Artist, Pop/Rock), Jennifer Lopez (Favorite Female Artist, Pop/Rock), The Isley Brothers (Favorite Group, Soul/R&B), Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz (Favorite Group, Rap/Hip-Hop), Linkin Park (Favorite Artist, Alternative), Celine Dion (Favorite Artist, Adult Contemporary), Ricky Martin (Favorite Artist, Latin), Steven Curtis Chapman (Favorite Artist, Inspirational), Clay Aiken (Fan’s Choice), and Madonna (Michael Jackson International Artist of the Year).
The awards are selected via a poll of 20,000 listeners. Jimmy Kimmel hosted the ceremony, which was broadcast live on ABC, at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium.