Eric Clapton Leads Grammy Nominations

BRITISH rock guitarist Eric Clapton has been nominated for a total of nine Grammy Awards, the highest number for a single act this year. The 35th annual Grammys will be presented Feb. 24 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, with comedian Garry Shandling as host.

Nominations for record of the year honored Clapton's "Tears In Heaven," Billy Ray Cyrus's "Achy Breaky Heart," k.d. lang's "Constant Craving," Vanessa Williams's "Save the Best for Last," and the team of Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson for "Beauty and the Beast."

Other top nominations for Clapton included album of the year for "Unplugged" and song of the year for "Tears In Heaven."

Also nominated for album of the year were lang's "Ingenue," Annie Lennox's "Diva," U2's "Achtung Baby," and "Beauty and the Beast."

The nominations for best country male vocal performance amounted to a five-way shootout among the genre's top stars. Garth Brooks was nominated for the album "The Chase," while Cyrus earned a bid for the single "Achy Breaky Heart." Vince Gill got a nod for the album "I Still Believe in You," while Randy Travis was nominated for the single "Better Class of Losers."

Contenders for female country vocal performance were Mary Chapin Carpenter for the single "I Feel Lucky," Wynonna Judd for the album "Wynonna," Reba McEntire for the single "The Greatest Man I Never Knew," Lorrie Morgan for the single "Something in Red," and Pam Tillis for the single "Maybe It Was Memphis."

The best new artist nominations included: country music's Cyrus, rocker Sophie B. Hawkins, rappers Kris Kross and Arrested Development, and pop singer Jon Secada.

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