Adele has captured six Grammys at a ceremony that had the difficult task of celebrating music's best while mourning the loss of one of their greatest, Whitney Houston.
Houston's death on the eve of the awards forced a delicate balance between the exuberance of the show's winners and recognition of the tragedy only 24 hours earlier.
Adele, who owned the year's best-selling album with 21, which won the album of the year award, was triumphant in her first performance since vocal cord surgery forced the cancellation of a tour and months of vocal rest.
Her peers also gave her a lengthy welcome-back standing ovation after she hit the high notes again on her 2011 smash-hit Rolling in the Deep.
The song also won her two of the night's most prestigious awards, record of the year and song of the year, while Someone Like You won for best pop vocal performance.
"I can't believe I'm getting emotional already," she said after picking up the latter award. "And seeing as it's a vocal performance, I need to thank my doctors, I suppose, who brought my voice back."
The occasion proved a little too much for the singer when she stepped up to accept her sixth award of the night for Album of the Year - sobbing, she joked, "I just first of all wanna say, 'Mum, girl did good!'"
She had the crowd in hysterics a minute later as she thanked her record company executives, breaking off to say, "Oh, I got a bit of snot."
SLIDESHOW: Adele's emotional night in photos:
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