Grammy winners convey feelings after conquest

From sight gags like Lil’ Kim to living monuments like Ralph Stanley, here’s a sampling of their first impressions after the thrill of victory.

The sudden trendiness of traditional American country music took up the heavy chatter backstage.

Most of the stars involved in the projects, including the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, believe their Grammys, led by Album of the Year, vindicate a musical style too long ignored, especially by the stations that claim to play country.

“It shows radio doesn’t have the stranglehold it once had, to say the least,” said T-Bone Burnett, who won as Best Producer, Non-Classical.

Yet Burnett said he wasn’t surprised the album was a huge hit.

“Everyone thought I was insane (to think that). But I had produced albums for the Counting Crows and the Wallflowers and they sold, like, 5 million copies.

And the only difference with this was that those albums had one great singer. This one had 15 great singers.”

Burnett said the first release from his new label, DMZ, will recycle one artist from O Brother, the 75-year-old bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley.

Stanley, who won Best Male Country Vocal Performance, said he wasn’t freaked out to sing a song about dying (“Oh Death”) at his advanced age.

“We all have to live with that,” he said.

“I just put everything I have into it.”

Missy Elliott, who won the Best Rap Solo prize for “Get Ur Freak On” and another award for her part in “Lady Marmalade,” said the biggest struggle of her career had nothing to do with music.

It was “making sure I got my taxes paid,” she said.

The full-figured singer also said she has to have all her clothes custom-made because “designers make these little baby clothes. I can’t fit into those things.”

On a musical note, she said she’ll collaborate on a new album with the rapper Eve, noting that it hardly ever happens that two hip-hop women work together on a complete album.

“The men do it. But for two women, it’s rare because,” she said with a laugh, “you know how women can be.”

Eve credited her trouncing of all the men in her Rap/Sung Collaboration category to a very pop force: “girl power.”

She also revealed that “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” was the toughest project she has ever worked on because of its producer.

“Dr. Dre is hard to work with. He’s great but he’s very critical.”

There was a lot of talk backstage about the Recording Artists Coalition’s movement to change the power balance between recording artists and record companies.

No rap act has signed on as yet.

“Unfortunately, the hip-hop community hasn’t come together as the rock community has,” Eve said.

But she made her own stance clear.

“Contracts are horrible. Artists do all the work and the record companies get all the money.”

Hezekiah Walker, who won for Best Gospel Choir Album, said he planned to celebrate his prize in a way appropriate to his faith.

“We’re going to do a lot of Christian partying,” he said.

That would put him at the opposite end of the belief spectrum from Adam Jones, guitarist for Tool.

Upon winning Best Metal Album, he thanked “my parents. And Satan.”

Lil’ Kim, who won as part of the “Lady Marmalade” pile-on, wasn’t coy about her celebration plans, either.

“Well, I have to go to my record-company party. Then I’m going to do what I want, get really drunk.”

Artists hardly ever bad mouth each other backstage at the Grammys.

But Al Schmitt, who won the Best Engineer award for his work with Diana Krall, managed to shoehorn in a put-down.

While praising Krall as “easy to work with,” he contrasted her with Anita Baker, whom he called “very difficult.”

He elaborated with another comparison.

“She (Barbara Streisand) can be tough. But at least you know what she wants and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. With Anita Baker, that’s not true.”