Another year, another strong showing for Seattle artists (and labels) at the 64th Grammy Awards, aka Brandi Carlile’s annual network TV showcase. Yes, Washington’s folk-rockin’ star is up for several top honors again and will be among the performers during Sunday’s main ceremony broadcast live from Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. (5-8:30 p.m., CBS).
But she’s hardly the only artist with Seattle-area ties nominated this year. While a number of these awards will be doled out during a less glamorous daytime ceremony (livestreamed at grammy.com), here are the names we’d like to hear following “And the Grammy goes to …”
It’s another predictably strong year for the Maple Valley Grammy slayer, reeling in five nominations — including three in some of the most prestigious categories — like lingcod on her fishing boat. Carlile’s knee-buckling “Right on Time” is up for best pop solo performance (a categorization she’s not super keen on), plus song and record of the year. The home state crooner’s duets with Alicia Keys (“A Beautiful Noise”) and the pride of Morton, Washington, Brandy Clark (“Same Devil”) are up for song of the year and best American roots performance, respectively.
The Grammys can’t get enough of twangy Washington state Brandies, with 27 career nominations between Clark and Carlile. The singer-songwriters teamed up on Clark’s haunting single “Same Devil” (best American roots performance), which Carlile produced and added chilling backup vocals to. “Brandi is an amazing singer,” Clark said of their collab last year. “I’ve never had somebody produce a vocal like her.” Clark could also earn a trophy as one of the many songwriters on “A Beautiful Noise,” up for song of the year.
Five years after Cornell’s death, the Soundgarden frontman’s singular voice is still moving fans and members of the Recording Academy. The Seattle rock hero’s posthumous covers collection, “No One Sings Like You Anymore,” is up for best rock album, with his beautiful rendition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” earning a best rock performance nomination.
Before the tragic death of longtime Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins last week, it seemed likely the band would be celebrating at the Grammys this year. In addition to its three nominations, the Foos had been scheduled to perform and were riding a wave of momentum after their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction last fall. Despite heavy hearts, the Seattle-formed rock titans have a good chance of adding to their 12 lifetime wins with best rock album (“Medicine at Midnight”), best rock song (“Waiting on a War”) or best rock performance (“Making a Fire”). It’d be a fitting tribute to one of modern rock’s premier drummers, taken far too soon.
The homegrown folk rockers’ 2008 debut remains a Sub Pop/Pacific Northwest classic and, for many, Fleet Foxes’ high water mark. But main man Robin Pecknold, who decamped for NYC years ago, and the band crafted their most exquisite record to date with “Shore,” an end-of-summer album with lush songs Pecknold wrote while “pining for nature” during lockdown. Its nomination for best alternative music album is the second of Fleet Foxes’ career.
His name might not be on the theater marquees or arena LED boards, but the Seattle dignitary is one of the most respected hip-hop producers in the game, powering tracks for everyone from Drake to Travis Scott. The beat craftsman’s soul-sampling magic is on full display with J. Cole’s “m y . l i f e” (featuring 21 Savage and Morray), nominated for best rap song and best rap performance. Cole’s “The Off-Season” LP — which also features production from Lynnwood beatsmith Mario Luciano — is up for best rap album, too.
Though his life and career were tragically cut short, the Seattle guitar god’s archive is a gift that keeps on giving. Up for best music film, the “Music, Money, Madness … Jimi Hendrix in Maui” documentary focuses on one of Seattle’s original rock star’s wilder gigs — which is saying something — for the filming of the infamous 1971 movie “Rainbow Bridge,” a scriptless, LSD-fueled flop.
The hometown orchestra has been flying high with regular Grammy bids the last few years and added another nomination before hitting turbulence with now former conductor Thomas Dausgaard. Dausgaard and the troupe he’s now messily divorced from could find their names together on the best orchestral performance trophy (awkwarrrrrd) for “Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra; Scriabin: The Poem of Ecstasy.”
A heavy hitter in the Christian music scene, the Seattle-bred, Nashville-based powerhouse earned her ninth nomination for last year’s “No Stranger” LP (think Adele + Jesus). You may have seen the best contemporary Christian music album nominee blowing the stadium roof off singing the national anthem at this year’s college football championship game.
Low (Sub Pop)
These minimalist indie rockers may hail from northern Minnesota, but their 15-plus years as one of Sub Pop’s staple bands keeps their Seattle visa current. The husband-and-wife-led ensemble are on a creative tear, earning raves with the most daring headphone records of their career: the beautifully dissonant and stripped-down “Double Negative” and last year’s “Hey What,” which eschew typical guitar-band sounds for skittering electronics layered with blissful harmonies. The latter scored a production nom for best engineered album, non-classical.
Nnenna Freelon (Origin Records)
Sub Pop isn’t the only local label backing Grammy-caliber artists around here. Seattle jazz pillar Origin Records had the honor of releasing the first album in roughly a decade from decorated vocalist Nnenna Freelon, who put her career on hold to care for her husband who had ALS. After his death in 2019, and the passing of Freelon’s sister, the Massachusetts-born singer channeled her grief into the misty-eyed healer “Time Traveler,” nominated for best jazz vocal album.