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The BBC's Jo Episcopo
"The hard core rapper pointedly sang that he did not care about winning a Grammy"
 real 28k

The BBC's David Willis
"Sir Elton seems bewildered his debut is causing so much controversy"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 17:55 GMT
Em'n'Elton take over the Grammys
Eminem's place at the Grammy Award rehearsal
Eminem's seat at rehearsals on Sunday
The stars of the music industry are gathering for Wednesday's Grammy Award ceremony but they are being obscured by the controversy surrounding rapper Eminem.

Long established superstars like Madonna and U2 will be there as well as newcomers Macy Gray and Dido, but they are being largely ignored while the record industry debates the merits of the multi-Grammy nominated 28-year-old.

Eminem
Controversy dogged Eminem's Manchester performance earlier this month
Gay and women's rights groups have criticised Eminem heavily, although gay singer Sir Elton John, who will duet with Eminem at the Los Angeles ceremony, has defended the rapper.

Police numbers for the ceremony are being doubled because of planned protests.

Many music industry figures, including Madonna and Stevie Wonder, have been supportive of Sir Elton.

"Well, I think it has to be allowed," said veteran crooner Tony Bennett at a pre-Grammy party.

"We live in a free country. If it were to be censored we'd be in a Nazi country."

Insult

But singer Gladys Knight was shocked that her "pal", Elton John, would do anything with Eminem.

"I need the details," said Knight, "I have to talk to Elton. I have to call my buddy and say 'What is going on?'"

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton John says he "hopes to influence" Eminem
Lynne Cheney, wife of US vice-president Dick Cheney, has also joined the attack.

She told CNN: "Elton John has been so good in the past speaking out on issues of equality for gay people, on issues of being against violent language against gay people.

"I am quite amazed and dismayed that he would choose to perform with Eminem."

She added: "This is a man who talks about murdering his own mother, he talks about murdering women generally.

"He talks about killing them slowly so you can hear them scream for a long time."

Gay activists complain that Eminem's Grammy-nominated album, The Marshall Mathers LP, which has sold 10 million copies worldwide, contains 18 uses of the word "faggot".

Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers III, has four Grammy nominations, including album of the year, best rap album, and best rap solo performance.

He is also nominated for best rap performance and best rap performance by a duo or group for the track Forget About Dre on Dr Dre's album Dr Dre - 2001.

Madonna
Madonna will perform at the Los Angeles ceremony
Fans say his album is "visionary", and rants about gays and women are not meant to be taken seriously.

"To me his lyrics are funny. I think they are misunderstood, people are over-analysing them, " said Andrea Aguilar, a Los Angeles high school student who runs an Eminem web site.

Eminem himself has said his lyrics should be taken with a "grain of salt".

Also in the running

U2 and Madonna will also perform at Wednesday's ceremony.

Both acts, who have won multiple Grammys in the past, are in the running for more titles this year.

Irish super group U2
Two Grammy nominations for U2 this year
U2, who have won seven Grammys, are competing against Madonna in the record of the year category with their single Beautiful Day.

The track - a number one hit in 32 countries - is in the race for song of the year, which credits song writing talent.

Madonna has won five Grammys in the past, mostly for her 1998 album Ray of Light.

Her nominations this year include record of the year for Music, the title track from her current album.

But overall, the awards - as well as the ceremony - are expected to be dominated by Eminem and his mentor Dr Dre, who has five nominations.

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See also:

21 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Eminem rapped in Lords
10 Oct 00 | Entertainment
U2 set for number one
04 Mar 00 | Brit Awards
Honours and insults at bitter Brits
11 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Eminem: The real Slim Shady
10 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Eminem wife's suicide bid
09 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Eminem faces new gun charges
04 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Grammys defend Eminem nominations
20 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Madonna mauls Eminem's critics
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