By Cameron Lee
March 11, 2021
The past year in music has been like no other. While many artists and musicians have released projects in abundance, many of the traditional annual music events and awards ceremonies have either been delayed, cancelled or turned virtual.
The 63rd Annual Grammy Award nominees were announced back in November and North Carolina is once again heavily represented after a strong showing at the 2020 awards ceremony. While typically held in January, the Recording Academy announced shortly after the new year they would reschedule the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards for March 14 due to the pandemic.
This year, not only were several North Carolina artists nominated for the prestigious award, but two teachers, Donald Walter and Brian McMath, were among 10 finalists for the 2021 Music Educator Award, an award recognizing educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education.
This year’s musical nominees include a wide range of genres representing several different cities across the state. From gospel to bluegrass to hip-hop, here are the North Carolina artists and bands up for Grammys this year.
Melvin Crispell, III
Best Gospel Performance/Song “Wonderful Is Your Name”
Possibly the most heartwarming story from this year’s nominations is Charlotte’s own Melvin Crispell III. Nominated for a song written by his late father Melvin Crispell Jr. (“Wonderful Is Your Name”), Crispell III continues his momentum in the world of gospel music after winning BET’s Sunday Best in 2019, a gospel singing competition hosted by Kirk Franklin. Crispell III’s debut full-length album I’ve Got A Testimony was released in September of 2020.
Gabe Fox-Peck / Joshua Brian Campbell
Best Song Written for Visual Media “Stand Up” (From Harriet)
It’s been a busy year for Gabe Fox-Peck. Best known for his contributions to the Durham supergroup Young Bull, Fox-Peck recently released his debut solo album Solomon, following up on his work with rapper Smino on the mixtape, She Already Decided. He now has a Grammy nod for his production work on the song “Stand Up,” written by South Carolina native Joshua Brian Campbell. The song has already been nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe, but now the Harvard alums set their eyes on the most prestigious music prize.
Record of the Year “Rockstar” / Best Rap Performance “Bop” / Best Melodic Rap Performance “Rockstar” / Best Rap Song “Rockstar”
Coming off a monster year in 2020– earning two nominations for the platinum song “Suge” from his debut studio album Baby on Baby– Charlotte’s Jonathan Kirk aka DaBaby has doubled up with four Grammy nominations in 2021. Joining an elite class of musicians and artists like Dua Lipa, Roddy Ricch, Brittany Howard, and Phoebe Bridgers, who all earned four or more nods at this year’s ceremony, DaBaby looks to bring his first Grammy home to Charlotte.
Hiss Golden Messenger
Best Americana Album – Terms Of Surrender
The Durham-based band Hiss Golden Messenger, led by frontman M.C. Taylor, has been churning out their soulful brand of Americana music since 2008. Signed to North Carolina independent record label Merge Records since 2014, this is the first Grammy nomination for the band. Taylor worked with esteemed musicians such as Phil Cook, Aaron Dessner (The National), Matt McCaughan (Superchunk) and Jenny Lewis on the ten-song album that deals with some darker emotions in the 2019 release. In 2020, Hiss Golden Messenger also shared a series of live albums benefitting Durham Public Schools, and recently announced a new album, Quietly Blowing It, to be released on June 25 via Merge Records.
Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals “Slow Burn”
Winston-Salem native Becca Stevens is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who was born to be a musical performer. The daughter of a choral music composer and opera singer, the North Carolina School of the Arts graduate’s unique musical upbringing (which also includes performing in musicals and her brother’s jazz rock band) has led her to where she is today. Having worked with artists such as David Crosby, Michael League (Snarky Puppy), Esperanza Spalding, Cory Wong, and many more, her collaboration with Jacob Collier on the 2020 album WONDERBLOOM, has earned Stevens her first Grammy nomination.
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album – American Standard
Five-time Grammy Award winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, James Taylor took on the Great American Songbook with his latest release, American Standard. Just like his classic songs “Carolina in My Mind” and “Fire and Rain” were implanted into our souls as North Carolinians, American Standard consists of many of the songs that were introduced to him as a child. Over 50 years after winning his first Grammy for “You’ve Got a Friend,” this would be Taylor’s sixth Grammy win and first since 2003 (“How’s The World Treating You”).
Steep Canyon Rangers
Best Bluegrass Album – North Carolina Songbook
On April 28, 2019, North Carolina bluegrass outfit Steep Canyon Rangers surprised attendees at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina with a special set paying tribute to legendary musicians from the state. The set featured songs written by Thelonious Monk, Doc Watson, James Taylor, Ben E. King, Elizabeth Cotten, and Ola Belle Reed. Releasing a live album titled, North Carolina Songbook, the album has been nominated for Best Bluegrass Album.
Best Country Song “The Bones”
Raleigh’s Jimmy Robbins may be the biggest songwriter from North Carolina you never heard of. Having penned ten No. 1 singles, the singer-songwriter and producer has worked with artists like Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett, Sabrina Carpenter, and Maren Morris. In addition to being nominated for Best Country Song this year for “The Bones,” written with Laura Veltz and Morris, he recently took home Song of the Year and Single of the Year at the 2020 CMA Awards.
Best Country Solo Performance “Stick That In Your Country Song”
Granite Falls native Eric Church garnered international attention performing the national anthem with R&B/soul songstress Jazmine Sullivan at the Super Bowl. For Church– now a ten-time nominee– hopefully the attention will earn him his first win for the song “Stick That In Your Country Song,” originally written by country artists Jeffrey Steele and Davis Naish.
Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song “The Blessing (Live)”
The Charlotte-based worship band Elevation Worship has now earned two Grammy nominations with their live performance of “The Blessing,” following their 2018 nomination for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album, Hallelujah Here Below. Although they’ve yet to win the coveted prize, the band has taken home two GMA Dove Awards for outstanding achievement in Christian music and were nominated for three Billboard Music Awards in 2018.
The 2021 Grammys will air live on Sunday, March 14 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.
In this article
- Becca Stevens
- Brian McMath
- Donald Walter
- Elevation Worship
- Gabe Fox-Peck
- hip hop
- HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER
- James Taylor.
- Jimmy Robbins
- Jonathan Kirk
- Joshua Brian Campbell
- Maren Morris
- mc taylor
- Melvin Crispell
- Melvin Crispell III
- Music Educator Award
- north carolina
- North Carolina Songbook
- stand up
- STEEP CANYON RANGERS
- Stick That In Your Country Song
- Terms of Surrender
- The Bones
- Wonderful Is Your Name