Off the Beaten Track at the Grammy Awards

Everyone is familiar with the big blockbusters that win at the Grammys, like Album of the Year and Record of the Year winner 24K Magic by Bruno Mars.  They are many of the same names that you hear on the radio, or on Spotify, Pandora, iTunes or Apple Music; Ed Sheeran, Childish Gambino, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Little Big Town, Chris Stapleton, etc. One of the more interesting things is to see (and hear) is the more off-the-beaten track winners that get discovered because this is the year they won a Grammy. Winning a Grammy gives a boost to new groups that have a hard time rising above the noise of the big machine of the major music labels, or gives vindication to musicians that work for years without the recognition they deserve for their hard-earned musicianship.  Here is a list of some out-of-the-ordinary music artists that won a Grammy this year.

Let’s start off with a category that had such tight competition that they could not decide a clear-cut winner, but ended up with a tie! Best Bluegrass Album was won by both The Infamous Stringdusters’ Laws of Gravity and Rhonda Vincent and the Rage’s All the Rage – In Concert Volume 1.

Laws of Gravity is the 7th studio album of the Infamous Stringdusters, a group of bluegrass musicians based in Charlottesville, VA. This band has won some International Bluegrass Music Association awards, but this was their first Grammy.

All the Rage - In Concert Volume 1 – Rhonda Vincent began her music career at age 5, playing drums in her family’s band The Sally Mountain Show. She moved onto the mandolin and, at age 10, her current instrument of choice, the fiddle.  She has been in the music business for over 4 decades and has appeared on albums by Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson, Tanya Tucker and others. She has been nominated 7 times before for Best Bluegrass Album at the Grammys, before logging her first win on her 8th try.

The Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album was awarded to Residente by the artist of the same name.  Residente, real name René Juan Pérez Joglar, is a Puerto Rican rapper, writer, filmmaker, producer and founder of the alternative rap group Calle 13. This was his first solo album and was inspired by a DNA test he took that revealed that he descends from people of multiple parts of the world. Residente felt inspired to visit those locations and record with local musicians.

The Best New Age Album was won by Dancing on Water by Peter Kater, a German-born pianist that moved to New Jersey at age 4! He had 14 Grammy nominations before he finally won one on his 15th try.

The last I saw Aimee Mann she was warning us that “Voices Carry” in the music video made for the song of that name for her New Wave band Til Tuesday.  Mann started a solo career in the nineties mining the alternative rock vein of music, but now after a five-year hiatus she has won a Grammy for Best Folk Album for her album Mental Illness!

Cecile McLorin Salvant is a young Jazz vocalist that garners great reviews for her live performances and jazz albums.  Dreams and Daggers, her 3rd solo album, won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Music great Wynton Marsalis was quoted in a 2017 New Yorker article as saying of Salvant: "You get a singer like this once in a generation or two."

Take a look at the Billboard magazine article that lists all the Grammy Winners for 2018 - almost all of which you can get at our library branches as CDs or by using our hoopla or Freegal Music databases.

- Larry McNamara, Acquisitions and Cataloging


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