LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X are walking into what should be one of the most exciting days of their careers as they attend their first-ever Grammy Awards on Sunday, where they are the top-nominated acts.
But 10 days before arguably the biggest night in music, the industry erupted when the Recording Academy announced it had put its recently hired CEO, Deborah Dugan, on administrative leave for misconduct. Dugan and her lawyers fired back at the academy, claiming that the awards show is rigged.
That energy puts a dark cloud over nominees like Lizzo, Eilish and Lil Nas X, breakthrough acts who are competing for top prizes like album of the year, record of the year and best new artist.
Tarriona “Tank” Ball of the New Orleans soul-funk band Tank and the Bangas, nominated for best new artist, said she’s not letting the drama ruin the big achievement for her band.
"I feel like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be it and I don't want anything taking away from all the nominees,” Ball said. “This is our moment. This is our time, and nobody takes away from it."
Alicia Keys is hosting the Grammys, which airs live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. Eastern. The show will be jam-packed with performances, including Ariana Grande, BTS, Camila Cabello, Demi Lovato, Jonas Brothers, DJ Khaled, Rosalia, Aerosmith, Bonnie Raitt, Tyler, the Creator, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, John Legend and Cyndi Lauper.
The show will also include special tributes to Prince, Nipsey Hussle — who is posthumously nominated for three awards — and longtime Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich, who is wrapping up his career with the show Sunday.
Lizzo, the top nominee competing for eight awards, will also perform.
Her major-label debut, “Cuz I Love You,” is nominated for album of the year along with projects from Grande, Lana Del Rey, Vampire Weekend, H.E.R., Bon Iver, Eilish and Lil Nas X.
Lizzo’s No. 1 hit, “Truth Hurts,” is also up for song and record of the year. Eilish, who will also perform, also scored song and record of the year nods for her No. 1 hit, “Bad Guy.”
Other record of the year nominees include Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” Grande’s “7 Rings,” Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower,” H.E.R.’s “Hard Place,” Bon Iver’s “Hey, Ma” and Khalid’s “Talk.”
Taylor Swift was shut out of album and record of the year, but she did score a nod for song of the year — a songwriter’s award. Her tune “Lover” is nominated against “Truth Hurts,” “Bad Guy,” “Hard Place,” Lady Gaga’s “Always Remember Us This Way” from “A Star Is Born,” Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved,” Lana Del Rey’s “Norman (Expletive) Rockwell” and Tanya Tucker’s “Bring My Flowers Now,” which was co-written by Brandi Carlile.
The Grammys will hand out roughly 10 awards during the live show; most of its 84 awards are given out at a pre-ceremony held right before the live show. Presenters this year include Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Billy Porter, Trevor Noah, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Cynthia Erivo, Ava DuVernay, Shania Twain and Common.
____ AP Entertainment Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.