Philadelphia has long had a solid reputation as a musical proving ground, but recent talent to emerge out of the City of Brotherly Love has thrown this city’s scene into the national spotlight.
For anyone looking to keep tabs on what’s up with the local music community, look no further than the upcoming 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Monday, February 15. Many artists in or from the Philly area represent the city in nominations across the board.
In addition to the artists formally in the running for awards this year, a slew of nominations have a Philly imprint on them: James Taylor’s Before This World album, up for Best Pop Vocal Album features vocal tracks out of Milkboy. Best Latin Pop Album nominee Alejandro Sanz’s Sirope has Matt Cappy’s session trumpet on it. Pianist Daniil Trifonov, backed by The Philadelphia Orchestra led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, gets a look for their recording of Rachmaninoff Variations in the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category. Philly native and resident Andrew “Pop” Wansel’s touch appears throughout the list of possible winners having produced music for Miguel’s “Coffee” (Best R&B Song) and Wildheart (Best Urban Contemporary Album) as well as J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and Nicki Minaj’s The Pinkprint (all up for Best Rap Album).
If you need a scorecard to keep track of what hometown heroes to root for in the various categories, look no further.
And the nominees are…
Record of the Year
More than seven years after Questlove leaked snippets of D'Angelo's "Really Love," the full track finally saw the light of day when the singer released Black Messiah. Backed by The Vanguard, made up in part of New Brunswick, New Jersey cousins Charles "Red" Middleton and Jermaine Holmes on vocals, the song received three nods for D'Angelo this year.
Taylor Swift's second single off 1989, "Blank Space," found the same chart topping success as her first single, "Shake It Off." In fact, the song that The New York Times, Los Angels Times, Rolling Stone and Time all fawned over also achieved another milestone as the first woman to replace herself at the number one spot on Billboard's Hot 100.
Album of the Year
Wyomissing, Pennsylvania's favorite daughter Taylor Swift finds herself up for a number of awards this year, including Album of the Year for her pop anthem-filled 1989.
Writers on Kendrick Lamar's opus To Pimp A Butterfly, include Vineland, New Jersey's Ronald "Flippa" Colson and Philadelphia's own Andrew "Pop" Wansel who both helped pen the album nominated for the most highly-coveted award of the evening.
Song Of The Year
Written by Taylor Swift and Swedish wünderkids Max Martin and Shellback (who also produced the single), "Blank Space" finds the electro-pop sounding song taking aim at the media's scrutiny of her relationships.
Best Pop Solo Performance
Once again, Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" gets a tip of the hat for the track that's video has racked up nearly 1.5 billion views on VEVO, the second most viewed video of all time on YouTube.
Best Pop Vocal Album
Another chance for Taylor Swift to take home a trophy comes from the Best Pop Vocal Album category for her fifth album, 1989.
Best Dance Recording
Veterans of the Hollertronix parties in the basement of the Ukie Club wouldn't find themselves surprised to hear of Diplo's nomination for a dance-related GRAMMY for Where Are Ü Now. Although it's not likely anyone would predict cohorts of Skrillex and Justin Bieber.
Best Dance/Electronic Album
When Diplo connects with fellow DJ and producer Skrilex, the duo forms the EDM supergroup Jack Ü. Last year's album Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü was chock full of thumping beats and guest appearances from 2 Chainz, Kiesza and Justin Bieber. Skrillex has a few GRAMMY wins, while Diplo wonders, "Where Are Ü Now?"
Best Metal Performance
Mannheim natives August Burns Red snagged a nomination for the single "Identity" off their Found in Far Away Places album. The Christian band finds ways to incorporate everything from spoken word to classical music into their thrash metal style. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
Best Traditional R&B Performance
Raised in Strawberry Mansion and a product of Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Jazmine Sullivan's "Let It Burn" receives one of three nominations for the vocalist this year in Best Traditional R&B Performance.
Best R&B Song
Previously nominated for eight GRAMMY Awards, "Let It Burn" gives Jazmine Sullivan yet another chance to take home an award for the ballad where she sings of the excitement of a new love and letting go of the fear.
Best R&B Album
D'Angelo And The Vanguard didn't just find Questlove as a vocal advocate and mentor for the crooner's comeback album, but The Roots drummer provided much of the percussion throughout Black Messiah.
The irony of Jazmine Sullivan's Reality Show nomination for Best R&B Album? She sees herself as much more than just an R&B artist. Sure, she topped Billboard's R&B Albums chart with the album which also climbed to number two on its R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and it's an easy label to give her, but we also know she's so much more.
Best Rap Song
As one of 19 people with son writing credit for Kanye West's "All Day," Rennard East finds himself in good company. Besides 'Ye, those who helped craft the track include Paul McCartney, Vic Mensa and Marion Winans. If you don't immediately recognize East's name, maybe you know him as one half of the Clipse's associates in the Re-Up Gang as Ab-Liva.
Best Musical Theater Album
Music? Check. Late night talk show? Check. Picnics? Check. Movies? Check. Television? Check. Plays? The legendary Roots crew's Ahmir Thompson and Tariq Trotter want to add Broadway to the list and producing the cast album for Hamilton, which debuted at number one on Billboard's Rap Album chart, has earned them a GRAMMY nod.
Best Opera Recording
Only a few years into his tenure as musical director of The Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin receives a nomination for his conducting of Mozart's Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He faces some stiff competition though; fellow conductors up for the award include Martin Pearlman for Monteverdi's Il Ritorno D'Ulisse In Patria and Seiji Ozawa for Ravel's L'Enfant Et Les Sortilèges; Shéhérazade.
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical
A long way from his Mississippi roots and Temple University education, Diplo has a Roledex that even makes music industry insiders jealous. Handling production duties for the likes of Snoop Dogg, Madonna, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown and Beyoncé to name a few, this is the fourth year Diplo has been up for the gold gramophone trophy.