The Grammys are routinely slagged and often called an irrelevant pep rally for a music industry in decline. But when an awards ceremony that is broadcast to millions worldwide recognizes acts from our own neck of the woods, it’s still nice to see. It means other local acts will get more attention, too, and it's a chance to celebrate our own scene with people near and far.
Yesterday's announcement of the nominees for the 59th annual edition of the awards included a number of people from, or with strong ties to, North Texas. In between plenty of nominations for Adele, Justin Bieber, Twenty One Pilots, Sturgill Simpson and Beyoncé were nods to Maren Morris, Leon Bridges, Demi Lovato, Pentatonix, Kelly Clarkson and Snarky Puppy.
Many of these names are familiar to Grammy voters, and arguably safe choices, but Morris' name stood out from the bunch. The Arlington-born Nashville transplant — who is the musical guest on Saturday Night Live this week — has garnered nominations for Best New Artist, Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for “My Church,” and Best Country Album for her debut album, Hero. Her Best New Artist nod puts her in a category with the Chainsmokers and Chance the Rapper.
Many acts who have been nominated for Best New Artist in the past have proven to be one-hit or one-album wonders, but since it's only one of four nominations for Morris, she hopefully has a long and fruitful career ahead of her. Her pop-friendly take on old school country, folk and gospel is a nice diversion from the hard rock, hip-hop and beer commercial influenced sound most country acts bring in 2016.
Miranda Lambert, the Longview-born artist who grew up in East Texas and made her start in Arlington, is also in the running for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for “Vice.”
Last year, Fort Worth’s Leon Bridges received a nomination for Best R&B Album. This year, the clip for “River” received a nod for Best Music Video, a category that has more to do with YouTube views than any chance of airplay on MTV or VH1. Bridges is working on a new album so he's more than likely going to have a big 2017. Meanwhile, we're all awaiting the airing of his Sesame Street appearance.
Demi Lovato — who grew up in Dallas and was featured as a child on another kids TV show, Barney & Friends — has had an impressive career as a solo pop star since her early teens. Now she has her first Grammy nomination to add to her list of achievements as her album Confident garnered a Best Pop Vocal Album nod.
The Arlington a cappella juggernaut Pentatonix also got a nod in the country genre, believe it or not. They are nominated in the Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their duet with Dolly Parton, revisiting one of her best-known songs, “Jolene.”
Kelly Clarkson earned a nomination for Best Solo Pop Performance with her song “Piece by Piece.” The former cocktail waitress from Burleson remains one of the few American Idol winners to enjoy a solid career after the show. This time, she is nominated in a category with Ariana Grande, Adele, Beyoncé and Justin Bieber.
Snarky Puppy, the band that started in Denton back in 2004 but now calls Brooklyn its homebase, has also been nominated once again. They have won two Grammys in years past. This time their album Culcha Vulcha has been nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
Kirk Franklin, a multi-Grammy winner who was raised in Fort Worth, received a nomination for Best Gospel Album for Losing My Religion, Best Gospel Performance/Song for "God Provides," and two for his involvement with Kanye West's The Life of Pablo. Andrew Savage, a UNT alum known for his artwork for Teenage Cool Kids and Fergus and Geronimo, received a nod for Best Recording Package for his band Parquet Courts' Human Performance.
The Grammy awards ceremony will take place on Feb. 12, 2017 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.