By Mary Milliken and Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Rapper-producer duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won the Grammy award for best new artist as the music industry kicked off its big night on Sunday with the promise of big-name collaborations and even a mass wedding to celebrate same-sex equality.
Minutes into the three-and-a-half-hour show, Beyonce and rapper husband Jay Z sang "Drunk in Love," her first public performance since her surprise self-titled album in December, a game-changer in the music industry for its stealth release.
Seattle-based Macklemore & Ryan Lewis rose through the independent music scene to storm the mainstream charts with hits such as "Thrift Shop" and "Same Love," a homage to marriage equality and gay rights.
They will perform "Same Love" with vocalist Mary Lambert later in the show as 34 couples, both same-sex and heterosexual, marry on air during the live broadcast on CBS. Queen Latifah will officiate at the nuptials.
"Before there was any media, before there was any buzz about us, before there was a story, there was our fans and it spread organically through them," said Macklemore, whose real name is Ben Haggerty, as he accepted the award for the duo.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis landed seven Grammy nods, and will vie for the night's biggest prize, album of the year, with pop singer Sara Bareilles, French electronic music duo Daft Punk, rapper Kendrick Lamar and country pop star Taylor Swift.
In early awards before the telecast from Los Angeles' Staples Center began, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis swept the rap categories - best rap album, song and performance. Pharrell Williams won music producer of the year for his work with artists including Robin Thicke, Jay Z and Jennifer Hudson.
MADONNA, MCCARTNEY, RINGO
The 56th Grammy Awards, the music industry's top honors handed out by the Recording Academy across 82 categories, may be remembered more for its performances and unscripted moments than the awards that are bestowed.
"Material Girl" Madonna will make an appearance. And the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, will also both perform at the ceremony before they are honored on Monday for the 50th anniversary of their arrival in the United States, where they appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
Other eye-popping collaborations include Stevie Wonder with Daft Punk and alt-rock group Imagine Dragons teaming up with newcomomer Kendrick Lamar. Heavy metal group Metallica will jam with Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang.
While some of the surprise performances have been leaked in recent days, the news of a mass wedding came as a big surprise after it was reported in the New York Times early on Sunday.
For Macklemore & Ryan Lewis the event took on a personal note with the participation of Lewis' sister Laura, who will marry her boyfriend during the ceremony.
"A night that is already tremendous for me, for the music," the Times quoted him as saying, "but to have my sister get married and my family there watching it - that makes it a whole other level of amazing."