LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Grammy Awards kicked off Sunday with a group of powerful women, including Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga, describing the role of music in their lives — a display that came a year after female voices were somewhat muted at the 2018 ceremony.

"Music has always helped me tell my story," Obama said at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. "Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves. It allows us to hear one another."

Gaga told the crowd: "They said I was weird, that my look, that my choices, that my sound wouldn't work. But music told me not to listen to them."

The opening contrasted with last year's Grammys, where male acts dominated in nominations and the only woman competing for the top award, Lorde, didn't get a chance to perform onstage.

But this year, Gaga, Brandi Carlile and Kacey Musgraves won multiple Grammys.

Carlile won three honors in the Americana category and will compete for the three biggest awards during the live show: album, song and record of the year.

Gaga also won three, including best pop duo/group performance, a win she shared with Bradley Cooper.

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