While America television viewers watched the Grammy performances and presentations onstage, some of the winners filtered backstage to hold court with the assembled press. Rob Thomas, Song of the Year winner for his Santana blockbuster "Smooth," was quick to put the whole Grammy experience in perspective.
"I was gawking at famous people," the Matchbox 20 singer said when asked about his day, "because that's what you do at these places."
For Thomas, collaborating with Carlos Santana for the Grammy sweeping Supernatural was an opportunity to work up close and personal with one of his all time favorite artists. "Santana for me is like a Willie Nelson or Led Zeppelin," he enthused. "Like, I've never not known them to be a part of my life and my radio."
That sentiment was echoed by Sting, winner of Best Pop Album for Brand New Day and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for it's title track. "Carlos Santana is someone I've respected and loved since I was a kid," said the former Police frontman. "To see him get this amount of acclaim at this stage in his career is very inspiring. I'm glad I wasn't in any categories with him."
Sting's two awards brought his total career Grammy winnings to fourteen, but the experience does not seem to have grown old for him. "I thought the talent I was up against was extraordinary, and I was happy to be in that crowd," he said of his competitors, which included the Backstreet Boys, Cher, Ricky Martin and Sarah McLachlan in the pop album category. "For me to be nominated is enough."
Christina Aguilera was still basking in the afterglow of her Best New Artist victory when she confronted the press. "I was expecting it to go to somebody who had more singles out this year," she confessed. "This is something that totally, totally shocked me, and whenever I see the tape of myself being played accepting this, having no speech prepared whatsoever, I'm probably going to just die. I remember being eight or nine years old when Mariah Carey won Best New Artist, and I hope I follow in her footsteps and build the longevity that she has had in her career."
As for the man of the hour himself, Santana made it clear that he has no intention of retreating from the public eye and ear in the wake of his comeback success. "I would like to keep it in a way where you can still hear a song on the radio," the guitar legend said on his future music plans. "I think quality and quantity can dance together."
Santana also expressed a desire to continue to spread his music to an even wider audience. "We want to be able to play China," he said. "We would like to play for Mr. Desmond Tutu and Mr. Nelson Mandela. There are a lot of things still to do: play in Cuba, play for American Indians, aborigines and African people."
And what's next for Santana's biggest champion, Arista Records founder and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Clive Davis? More of the same, he vowed. "My next move is to stay in music and do everything I've been doing to date."