I skipped last year but this year I definitely would like to comment on the recent Grammy nominations. I think I'll stay focused on the R&B categories this year as it's the field I feel more strongly about. One thing I must mention is that the nominations showed that quality and not just name recognition is what counts more. More and more you see under-the-radar artists getting deserved recognition. Considering what was up for consideration many of these artists have in a sense already won in that their work said enough for them to get nominated over some high-profile players.
In this part I will talk about the R&B Female Performance category.
GONE ALREADY - Faith Evans BITTERSWEET - Fantasia EVERYTHING TO ME - Monica TIRED - Kelly Price HOLDING YOU DOWN (GOING IN CIRCLES) - Jazmine Sullivan
Not a weak link in the bunch. They are all strong nominees. As vocalists they all have something that individually you can only attribute to them. They are not mediocre or cookie-cutter in anyway. Some may be surprised by Alicia Keys not being nominated for her work such as "Unthinkable" but when I consider the nomination group, I can't say that this set is lessened by the absence of Alicia Keys or even the wonderful Mary J. Blige. If anything this category is strengthened by the overall quality of the tracks involved, from the vocals to the production. And considering that whoever wins will win a first for this category is truly refreshing considering the dominance that certain artists such as Alicia Keys had in this category.
Kelly Price vocals fit the idea of the song. A woman "tired" of drama. She's a really strong vocalist and I'm surprised that she hasn't received that much in nominations over the years. When I think of her career during the time of "Mirror, Mirror" she definitely stands out as one of the best R&B vocalists today.
Let me just say that when I first heard on the internet "Gone Already" I wasn't impressed. But recently when I was driving late at night it came on the radio and it was like I had never heard it before because I was just thinking that this is an amazing track. Easily Faith Evans best work since "I Love You". Her vocals are on point and the chorus definitely elevates the track. I was pleasantly surprised she was nominated because I thought she would be overlooked but the strength of her performance came through. Well deserved.
Jazmine Sullivan is easily the best new R&B vocalist since Jill Scott debuted (even though Fantasia and Chrisette Michele deserves mention). Her voice just elevates whatever track she sings. In someone else hand "Holding You Down" would be a hot mess as the production would have drowned the vocals but Jazmine has such power and control that she still is the front and center of the track.
Fantasia as a vocalist, in my opinion, gives her very best. She never comes with a sense of complacency. She never "phones-it-in" as some would say about other singers. And she's really good at injecting emotional pain into a song as she proved with past performances such as "Free Yourself". With "Bittersweet"(Back To Me-nominated for R&B Album) she does it and she elevates it to a really sophisticated approach. She takes it to highs and lows without it seeming like a vocal ego-trip. Some artists will always say the cliché that they sing from the heart (roll my eyes). With Fantasia though, I believe it.
Monica finally received a well earned nomination in R&B Female. She arguably should have received nominations for her other work especially from the time of the height of her career (The Boy is Mine). She never received a solo nomination, she shared the nominations and win with Brandy. But I felt she should have gotten recognition for "Angel of Mine" or "The First Night". It's good to know, considering that and also the many personal trials she went thorough, that she at this point got well deserved recognition for her best performance. "Everything to Me" starts off slow but builds to an epic quality that takes one back to the songs that elevated the career of Toni Braxton like "You Mean the World to Me" and "Breath Again". Monica came back strong and it's good to see that she was recognized with the nominations.
Based on the performances I would have to say that Monica (Still Standing-nominated for R&B Album) would be a very deserving winner. She should win based on not only the quality of the track but mainly on her vocals and the way she compliments the epic nature of the production.
I'll rank the songs on the overall quality (IMHO). I must say this category is really strong this year.
1. EVERYTHING TO ME - Monica 2. BITTERSWEET - Fantasia 3. GONE ALREADY - Faith Evans 4. HOLDING YOU DOWN (GOING IN CIRCLES) - Jazmine Sullivan 5. TIRED - Kelly Price