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  • Delwar Jahid, S. · Commissioner of Oath in & for the Province of Alberta and Saskachewan
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LOS ANGELES, Feb 9, 2015 (BSS/AFP) - Sam Smith, the British soul singer whose ballad "Stay With Me" has propelled him to fame in a matter of months, picked up two Grammy Awards on Sunday including Best New Artist.

Superstar Beyonce and "Happy" creator Pharrell Williams each won three Grammys early in the night. The veterans are vying with Smith to take the biggest haul of trophies on the music industry's big night.

Performers included Madonna -- who sang a track from her new album surrounded by a troupe of half-naked male dancers in ram-like horns -- and Kanye West, who returned after a prolonged absence.

Smith won the prize for Best New Artist and is also in contention in the other three most prestigious categories -- Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

If he wins all four, the 22-year-old who was tending bar in London until a few years ago would be the first artist to make a sweep in more than three decades.

"Before I made this record, I was doing everything to try to get my music heard. I tried to lose weight and ... I was making awful music," said Smith, who unlike many chart-topping stars is not known to draw fans for his looks.

"It was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen. So, thank you, guys, for accepting me to be just me," he told the global audience from a Los Angeles arena.

Smith has enjoyed a phenomenal rise with "Stay With Me" -- a tender ballad about a one-night stand.

He has refrained from on-stage theatrics and has walked a fine line on his personal life, acknowledging his sexual orientation while striving not to be identified exclusively as a gay artist.

Williams won for Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Video for "Happy," his viral ode to happiness that spawned hundreds of imitations around the world.

Williams, 41, has emerged as a star in his own right with "Happy" after years on the sidelines as a producer.

Last year, he enjoyed Grammy nominations for his work both on Robin Thicke's lustful "Blurred Lines" and with the French electronic duo Daft Punk, who were 2014's big winners.

"Life is a carousel," Williams said as he walked the red carpet in a gray Adidas shorts suit.

- New feat for Beyonce -

Beyonce won for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance with "Drunk In Love," her tale of marital bliss sung with her husband Jay-Z, as well as for the more technical Best Surround Sound Album.

With the latest honor, Beyonce has won 20 Grammys -- topping Aretha Franklin for the woman with the second biggest all-time haul, although still well behind the country star Alison Krauss at 27.

"This has been such an incredible year. I love you all. I'd like to thank my beloved husband. I love you deep," she said.

The 33-year-old singer offered some of her most personal work on her latest, self-titled album, which she recorded in secret and released with no previous publicity in December 2013.

Also up for Album of the Year are Beck, the innovative Los Angeles rocker who has enjoyed two decades of critical acclaim. He won for Best Rock Album for his lush, introspective "Morning Phase."

Roseanne Cash -- the daughter of folk legend Johnny Cash -- won in three Americana categories in her first Grammys since 1985.

The 59-year-old singer and guitarist used her Grammy appearance to press her campaign for reforms to help musicians in a rapidly changing industry.

"There are many musicians who feel that they cannot make a living anymore," she told reporters. "If you wouldn't steal an apple from a store, why would you steal an album?"

Aphex Twin, the elusive British DJ known for his abstract compositions and breakbeat style, won in the dance/electronic category for "Syro," his first studio album in 13 years.

- Nightclub shooting -

Los Angeles was full of parties ahead of the Grammys including one in the heart of Hollywood that turned violent late Saturday when at least two suspects opened fire outside a nightclub, killing an unidentified man, according to police.

The venue, supperclub, had earlier said on Twitter that revelers included hip-hop star Snoop Dogg as well as two younger artists nominated for Best Rap Album -- Schoolboy Q, a self-proclaimed gangsta rapper, and Wiz Khalifa.

Neither won the award, which went to Eminem for "The Marshall Mathers LP 2." It is the record sixth time that Best Rap Album has gone to Eminem, the top-selling hip-hop artist of all time.

Other contenders in the Best Rap Album category included Iggy Azalea, a white Australian who has become a cultural flashpoint for performing in an African American accent.