As the 2011 Grammys draw nearer, take a moment to appreciate Philadelphia’s rich musical talent and diversity. From numerous hip-hop and R&B groups to a jazz organist, the following list of current Grammy nominees all have connections to the City of Brotherly Love. –Chelsea Karnash
Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals (with John Legend) for “Shine”
Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance (with John Legend) for “Hang On In There”
Best R&B Album (with John Legend) for Wake Up!
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (with John Legend) for “Wake Up! Everybody” ft. Common and Melanie Fiona
Best Rap Album for How I Got Over
If you’ve lived in Philadelphia for more than a second, you probably know that Grammy-winning group and Philly natives The Roots are a source of city-wide pride. The original members, Black Thought (MC and vocals) and ?uestLove (drums), were classmates at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts, and numerous notables enjoyed stints with the band, including producer Scott Storch and Ben Kenney of Incubus.
Currently, The Roots consists of Kamal (keyboard), Frank Knuckles (percussion) and Cap’n Kirk (guitar), with a slew of intermittent contributors. In the past, The Roots have been nominated for a number of Grammys and won in 1999 for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group (with Erykah Badu).
Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals (with The Roots)
Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance (with the Roots) for “Hang On In There”
Best R&B Album (with The Roots) for Wake Up!
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (with The Roots) for “Wake Up! Everybody” ft. Common and Melanie Fiona
Best R&B Song for “Shine”
Another super-successful singer with ties to the City of Brotherly Love is John Legend. The platinum-selling artist and piano virtuoso studied English at Penn and worked at Boston Consulting Group after graduation (while also working on his demos). In 2005, he hit it big with his debut album, Get Lifted, and he’s won six Grammy’s since. Legend is nominated for five Grammy’s in 2011, along with The Roots.
Best Pop Instrumental Performance for “No Mystery”
Best Contemporary Jazz Album for The Stanley Clarke Band
Stanley Clarke was part of the uber-competitive Philadelphia Academy of Music until 1971, and since then, he’s enjoyed an illustrious career. After single-handedly starting the 1970s “bass revolution,” he went on to release 40 albums and compose 60 film scores, and his recently formed music label, Roxboro Entertainment Group, is named for Roxborough High School (gotta love the Philly love!).
Best Urban/Alternative Performance for “Little One”
Germantown’s Bilal can sing opera in seven languages and has appeared on a number of award-winning artist’s albums (including Guru’s and Common’s). After Bilal’s first relatively successful solo album, his subsequent album was leaked online, and he was dropped from his label. After nine years without a solo effort, 2010 marked the debut of his belated second effort.
Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual Or Group for Providencia
Okay, so Perez grew up in Panama, but the successful contemporary pianist is also an artistic advisor for the Kimmel Center’s Jazz Up Close series. Previously, he’s been a part of two Grammy-nabbing albums. Providencia, which is nominated this year, is Perez’s collaboration with his instrumental trio.
Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “Holding You Down (Goin’ In Circles)”
Twenty-three year old Jazmine Sullivan has already racked up seven Grammy nominations; 2011’s is her eighth. Sullivan, who was raised in the Strawberry Mansion section of the city, started her singing career off performing at Philly’s 90s musical collective Black Lily. In 2008, her debut album topped the Billboard 100 R&B/Hip Hop charts. “Holding You Down,” off of Sullivan’s sophomore effort and nominated for a Grammy this year, was co-produced by friend Missy Elliott.
Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals (with Chuck Brown and Marcus Miller) for “Love”
North Philadelphia’s Jill Scott is not only a singer, but an actress and poet as well. The single-mother-raised Scott, who grew up a Jehovah’s Witness and attended Temple for three years, was discovered by ?uestlove of The Roots. She won her first Grammy in 2000 for a performance she did with The Roots, and she recorded her latest album partly in Philly.
Best Contemporary Jazz Album for Never Can Say Goodbye
Springfield, Pa.’s Joey DeFrancesco has music in his blood—his father was Hammond B3 player “Papa” John DeFrancesco, and his grandfather was multi-instrumentalist Joe DeFrancesco. The award-winning jazz organist and trumpeter started playing the piano at the age of four, and by 17, he was touring with the legendary Miles Davis. This year’s Grammy nod is for his tribute album to Michael Jackson.
Best Male R&B Vocal Performance (with Kirk Whalum) for “We’re Still Friends”
Creative speller Musiq Soulchild is actually Philly native Taalib Johnson. His list of accomplishments includes two platinum selling albums, a 2002 appearance in The Roots’ hit song “Break You Off,” and 11 previous Grammy nominations.
Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals (with Herbie Hancock, India.Arie, Seal, Konono No. 1, Jeff Beck & Oumou Sangare) for “Imagine”
Doylestown’s Pink (aka. Alecia Moore) is just one part of this large-scale collaboration nominated for a Grammy, but somehow, I doubt that she’s lost in the shuffle. The outspoken and unique singer, who wowed with her performance at the Grammys last year (remember her dangling from a rope, seemingly miles above the stage, in a sparkly nude-colored bodysuit?), has been nominated for ten previous Grammys and has won two to date.
Best Contemporary Blues Album for Nothing’s Impossible
A jack-of-all-trades, Solomon Burke (sadly) passed away in October. Still, the West Philly singer-songwriter, mortician, entrepreneur and archbishop is nominated for his album Nothing’s Impossible. Burke’s list of previous work is seemingly endless; check out his Wikipedia page and see for yourself!
KEVIN MACKIE, STEVE PULLARA, JIM CRAVERO & PAULA LIZZI (PRODUCERS):
Best Spoken Word Album For Children for Healthy Food For Thought: Good Enough To Eat
These four producers, who are all from the Philadelphia area, recorded their Grammy-nominated CD in Warminster, Pa. It’s up against some stiff competition (including Julie Andrews, Selma Blair and Emma Thompson), but their compilation has something extra going for it: all of the profits from sales of the CD go to the nonprofit organization the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.