LOS ANGELES (AP) -Â “Killing Me Softly With HisÂ Song,” a ballad about theÂ emotional impact of music,Â was named record of the yearÂ Saturday night at the 16thÂ annual Grammy Awards, giving singer Roberta Flack herÂ second such honor in twoÂ years.
“I’d like to thank theÂ world.” said Miss Flack,Â spreading her arms wide. SheÂ also accepted a golden statuette for best female pop performance, also a repeat awardÂ for her. Miss Flack thankedÂ her record company “for having the good sense to signÂ me.”
The most awards of theÂ eveningâ€”fourâ€”went to blindÂ singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder, who received a standingÂ ovation as he was led to theÂ stage by his mother.
Accepting the first of hisÂ awards, Wonder handed his statuette to his mother, Loulah Hardaway of Detroit, saying, “I would like for you allÂ not to give this to me but toÂ my mother.”
Beaming at her son, Mrs.Â Hardaway said, “I would likeÂ to thank you all for makingÂ this the sunshine of my lifeÂ tonight.”
Moments later, WonderÂ made another trip to the stageÂ to receive the award for bestÂ Â pop vocal performance forÂ that song, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” He accepted it in memory of the lateÂ singer Jim Croce, who wasÂ killed in a plane crash lastÂ year.
Wonder also was honored inÂ the categories of best rhythmÂ and blues song, “Superstition,” album of the year, “Innervisions,” and best rhythmÂ and blues vocal, “Superstition.”
Three thousand members of the National Academy ofÂ Recording Arts and SciencesÂ voted in the Grammy competition. The awards wereÂ presented before a star-studded gathering at the Hollywood Paladium.
The members chose as theÂ best new artist of the yearÂ flamboyant singer Bette Midler.
She rushed to the stage,Â her carrot red hair in a frizz,Â and exclaimed, “Isn’t this aÂ hoot!”
Miss Midler, who bills herself as “The Last of the TrulyÂ Tacky Ladies,” was nominated in other musical categories, but won no others.
The award for best rhythmÂ and blues vocal group went toÂ Gladys Knight and the PippsÂ for their recording “MidnightÂ Train to Georgia.” They alsoÂ won the Grammy for best pop
vocal group for the song “Neither One of Us Wants to be the First to Say, Goodbye.”
Miss Knight reminded theÂ gathering that her group hadÂ been nominated for four yearsÂ in a row but this was the firstÂ time it had won. “I got aÂ speech together the first year,Â and it’s been so long I’veÂ forgotten it,” she said.
Charlie Rich was namedÂ best country vocal performerÂ for “Behind Closed Doors.”Â The melancholy “KillingÂ Me Softly” was named in theÂ three top categoriesâ€”recordÂ of the year, song of the yearÂ and best female vocal performance. In addition to MissÂ Flack, Grammys went to theÂ songwriters, Norman GimbelÂ and Charles Fox, and to theÂ record producer, Joel Dorn.
The Grammy for best country instrumental went to theÂ popular record “Dueling Banjos,” by Eric Weissburg andÂ Steve Mandell. Singer-composer Neil Diamond, who didÂ not attend the awards, wasÂ given a Grammy for the bestÂ motion picture score, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”
Early winners in the country music field were KrisÂ Kristofferson and Rita/Coolidge, the-husband-wife teamÂ who won Grammys for bestÂ country vocal performance byÂ a duo for their record, “FromÂ the Bottle to the Bottom.”