Drake leads Canadian charge
TORONTO — Canadian superstar Drake emerged one of the leading artists at the Grammy Award nominations on Friday, picking up seven nods, many of them in key categories.
Joining the former Degrassi High actor on the list of nominated Canadians are several performers with ties to Vancouver Island. Diana Krall earned two nominations for her collaboration with Tony Bennett. Love is Here To Stay is in the running for best traditional pop vocal album, while their duet, ‘S Wonderful, is competing for best pop duo/group performance.
Victoria-raised artist Roy Henry Vickers drew a best boxed or special limited edition package nomination for his art direction on Pacific Northwest ‘73-74’: The Complete Recordings. The boxed set by the Grateful Dead was overseen by Victoria-based audiovisual archivist David Lemieux. While he didn’t officially receive a nomination, Victoria guitarist Quinn Bachand also felt some Grammy Award love on Friday. He played on a nominated recording by the group Kittel & Co., whose leader and composer, Jeremy Kittel, received a best instrumental composition for his song, Chrysalis.
The recognition for Drake’s work on his 2018 double-album Scorpion, as well as contributions to other rappers’ tracks, comes after the Toronto-raised performer boycotted last year’s Grammys by choosing not to submit anything from his previous release, More Life.
Drake’s change of heart this year helped Scorpion pick up nominations in several top categories — album, record and song of the year for God’s Plan.
Shawn Mendes emerged with the first Grammy nominations of his career. The pop singer, raised in Pickering, Ont., was named in two categories — song of the year for In My Blood and best pop vocal album.
Songwriter Geoffrey Warburton, who also hails from Pickering, shares the In My Blood song nomination with Mendes.
In two categories, Drake will compete with himself for the golden gramophone. His song God’s Plan is also vying for best rap performance against Travis Scott’s Sicko Mode, a track on which Drake appears as a guest.
He’s also nominated twice in the rap song category, where God’s Plan and Sicko Mode are among the contenders for the award given to the songwriters.
Several of Drake’s associates also landed Grammy recognition.
Boi-1da, born Matthew Samuels in Toronto, was nominated as producer for his body of work this year, which includes songs with Drake, Cardi B, GEazy, and Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Samuels also received two nominations in the best rap song category as a songwriter on Eminem’s Lucky You and Jay Rock’s Win.
Noah Shebib, another one of Drake’s collaborators, is recognized with three nominations for songs from the Scorpion album.
In other categories, Daniel Caesar appeared in the R&B performance category for the second consecutive year, this time for the song Best Part, a duet with California-based singer H.E.R.
Jim (Kimo) West, who was born in Toronto and is known as “Weird Al” Yankovic’s guitarist, is nominated for Moku Maluhia — Peaceful Island in the new age album category.
Brandon, Man.-raised violinist James Ehnes is nominated for classical instrumental solo for his concerto Kernis, while Torontoborn conductor Peter Oundjian also received a nod for classical compendium.
Violinist Christina Day Martinson, from Saskatchewan, is nominated in the classical instrumental solo category for Biber: The Mystery Sonatas with the Boston Baroque.
Kendrick Lamar emerged as the top Grammy contender with eight nominations, including seven for his musical companion to the Marvel Studios juggernaut Black Panther starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan. Black Panther: The Album, Music From and Inspired By is up for album of the year, a category where women make up five of the eight nominees.
Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves, Janelle Monae, H.E.R. and Brandi Carlile also are up for the top prize, along with Drake and Post Malone.
The upcoming Grammys is the first where the academy extended its top four categories from five nominees to eight.
The Panther nomination would give Lamar a chance to win album of the year after losing three times. His most recent loss was in February when his critically acclaimed DAMN fell short to Bruno Mars’s 24K Magic, though Lamar’s project would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize for music two months later, making him the first non-classical or jazz artist to win the prestigious honour.
Lamar’s Top 10 hit, the SZAassisted All the Stars, is nominated for both record and song of the year (a songwriter’s award). Five other songs scored nominations in both categories, including Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s Shallow from A Star Is Born; Childish Gambino’s This Is America; Drake’s God’s Plan; Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey’s The Middle; and Carlile’s The Joke.
Ella Mai’s Boo’d Up joined Mendes in song of the year nods, while Post Malone’s Rockstar and Cardi B’s I Like It featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin, round out the nominees for record of the year.
Cardi B, Gaga, H.E.R., Morris, Gambino, producer Sounwave and engineer Mike Bozzi scored five nominations each.
The nominees for the 2019 Grammys mark a departure from this year’s show, where women were underrepresented in the top four categories. Of the eight best new artist nominees, six are women, including H.E.R., Chloe x Halle, Dua Lipa, Margo Price, Bebe Rexha and Jorja Smith. Rock band Greta Van Fleet and country singer Luke Combs also earned nominations.
Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow was criticized earlier this year at the Grammys when he said women need to “step up” when asked about the lack of women in the top categories, which he later acknowledged was a “poor choice of words.” It forced the academy to launch a new task force focused on inclusion and diversity; Portnow also announced he would be leaving the academy in 2019.
“In any given year there could be more folks from one area or one gender or one genre or one ethnicity that are making recordings and being successful with them than in another year. So, in many ways we’re just a reflection of that,” Portnow said in an interview with the Associated Press. “This year clearly there were many women not only making music but making great music and making music that resonates with our peer voters in terms of excellence, and so that certainly is at the forefront.”
Another milestone for women is in the non-classical producer of the year category, where songwriter extraordinaire Linda Perry earned a nomination. She’s just the seventh woman ever nominated for prize and first since 2004.
“Linda represents what we hope becomes the norm, which is the elimination of gender bias in producing and engineering in our industry,” Portnow said.
Perry will compete with Pharrell Williams, Boi-1Da, Larry Klein and Kanye West, the only nomination he earned.
Taylor Swift, a two-time album of the year winner, also only earned one nomination — her reputation album is up for best pop vocal album. Justin Timberlake, whose Man of the Woods albums flopped this year, picked up a nod for Say Something, his collaboration with Chris Stapleton.
Canadian singer Drake earned seven Grammy nominations, including album of the year for God’s Plan.
Kendrick Lamar led all Grammy nominees with eight.