By Jill Serjeant and Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lady Gaga, the "Black Panther" soundtrack, and folk singer Brandi Carlile took home early Grammy awards on Sunday ahead of a female-flavored telecast hosted by R&B singer Alicia Keys.
Gaga's hit song "Shallow" from the movie "A Star is Born" took the Grammy for best song written for visual media, while her "Joanne (Where Do You Think You're Going)" won for pop solo performance.
Gaga, who is to perform later on Sunday, said on Twitter she was "in tears with honor and gratitude."
"I’m not gonna be able to wear any makeup tonight," she tweeted.
Carlile, 37, took home three early trophies, two for her Americana music single "The Joke" and another for her album "By the Way, I Forgive You."
An absent Ariana Grande, who pulled out of the Grammys show last week after a dispute with producers, won her first Grammy best pop vocal album for "Sweetener."
The soundtrack for superhero movie "Black Panther" took best score for visual media, while Childish Gambino's searing "This is America," about police brutality and racism, won the best music video trophy.
Gambino, the alter ego of actor Donald Glover, was one of several influential stars who were no shows at the biggest night in music.
Leading nominees Kendrick Lamar, who produced the "Black Panther" soundtrack, and Canadian rapper Drake's will also be absent in what is seen as a snub by the three rappers of an awards show that has often shut hip-hop artists out of its top prizes, despite rap's dominance as the biggest music genre in the United States.
Cardi B, who will perform later on Sunday, could break that trend and take home not only her first ever Grammy but potentially become the first rapper since 2004 to win the coveted album of the year award for her "Invasion of Privacy."
Only two albums by hip-hop artists have ever won the album of the year Grammy - Lauryn Hill's "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" in 1999, and Outkast's "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below" in 2004
Rappers Post Malone ("Beerbongs & Bentleys") and Drake's best-seller "Scorpion" are also vying for the top prize. Janelle Monae's "Dirty Computer," country singer Kacey Musgraves' "Golden Hour," Carlile's "By The Way, I Forgive You," newcomer H.E.R's self-titled "H.E.R.", and the "Black Panther" soundtrack round out contenders for album of the year.
Grammy organizers this year expanded the top four categories - album, record, song of the year, and best new artist - to eight nominees from five in a bid to diversify the contest.
Sunday's show will include performances by Diana Ross, Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Dolly Parton, Janelle Monae, Shawn Mendes, Katy Perry, Ricky Martin and Red Hot Chili Peppers. There will also be a tribute to the late Aretha Franklin, who died last August.
(Editing by Bill Berkrot)