Sure, you may secretly dance to Justin Bieber in your Wonder Woman undies or fantasize about Drake making you a hot fudge sundae, but there's a lot more talented, relatively unknown musicians hiding in the Grammy nominee list.
The Grammys, on the most part, are about the awards gifted to people you don't know.
Here are the Top Ten Grammy Artists You Might Not Know That You Should:
10. The SteelDrivers – Best Bluegrass Album
Nashville-based bluegrass band, The SteelDrivers, are the kind of band that constantly takes away reward nods without fully receiving recognition for their talents, although they charted for number two in US bluegrass with their album on Rounder Records, Reckless. One key way that The Steeldrivers are different from other bluegrass bands is that lead singer, Chris Stapleton, has a voice that is what back-country rock 'n roll honky-tonks are made of.
9. Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith – Best Traditional Blues Album
After becoming best friends while playing for Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith are masters of the street-smart, tongue-in-cheek boogie woogie and Chicago blues. Perkins' and Smith's platonic love for each other is evident in the way they humorously throw out verses in songs like “Joined At The Hip.”
8. Bettye Lavette – Best Contemporary Blues Album
Northern soul siren, Bettye Lavette, has a tender soulful croon equal to the prowess of other more popular chanteuses like Candi Staton or Aretha Franklin. Lavette is showcasing those skills in with her new blues-centric, Grammy nominated album, Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. Lavette has one of those classic voices that makes autotune an even more tragic production tool.
7. Soweto Gospel Choir – Best Traditional World Music Album
Soweto Gospel Choir reinvent old spiritual favorites with their tight, acapella vocal tonalities and their use of vibrant clothing. The South African gospel group has played more than 4,000 shows for Nelson Mandela and won two Grammys in a row, but they are still a relatively unknown name in the Western world.
6. Trombone Shorty – Best Contemporary Jazz Album
Mixing de rigueur, sensual vocals with the freewheeling blare of the trombone, Trombone Shorty is probably one of the youngest and foxiest trombone players we've ever seen. This isn't a senior citizens version of Music Man.
5. Bilal – Best Urban/Alternative Performance
Neo-soul singer, Bilal, may not be new to the R&B game, but his experimental style and unique voice are direly under-appreciated in a musical climate where artists signed to major labels (just like Bilal did) have to maintain a cookie-cutter mold and mainstream image in order to stay on the label and sell records. Bilal did his own thing with style, never forgetting his integrity as an artist.
4. Ana Tijoux – Best Latin Rock, Alternative or Urban
French-Chilean singer-songwriter, Ana Tijoux, is a Latin hip-hop artist best known for her edgy rhyming skills and cutting lyrics. Tijoux's sound is sexy, modern, and a little bit twisted; she is doing something completely innovative and one could even go so far as to argue that Tijoux is the current queen of hip-hop.
3. Grupo Fantasma – Best Latin Rock, Alternative or Urban
Latin Funk eleven-piece from Tejas, Grupo Fantasma, fuses old-school cumbia and funk with uptempo, modern songwriting. While Grupo Fantasma is popular amongst their Austin peers, their 2010 full-length album, El Existential, nominated for a Best Latin Rock, Alternative or Urban, could be just the thing to kickstart their career and bridge the gap between mainstream radio and talented Latin artists.
2. Dweezil Zappa – Best Rock Instrumental Performance
Dweezil Zappa is an Ex-MTV VJ, ex-actor, ex-Lisa Loeb lover; most importantly Dweezil is an extremely talented musician who has dedicated part of his artistic life to playing the music of his infamous father, Frank Zappa. A previous Grammy winner, Dweezil Zappa was nominated this for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for his father's song “My Deathless Horsie.” If you ever felt like relieving the genius of Frank Zappa with a modern twist, Dweezil Zappa is doing a great job representing his father's legacy.
And here's the number one artist you should know about:
1. Esperanza Spalding – Best New Artist
Practically an unknown to most of the self-acclaimed music-loving world, young jazz multi-instrumentalist and singer, Esperanza Spalding, creates dynamic, fresh bop and Afro-Cuban infused. Spalding is nominated for one of the most coveted prizes of the Grammys–Best New Artist. While she will have to beat out heavyweights like Drake and Justin Bieber (How is he even considered a new artist?), it is refreshing to see untarnished, sophisticated jazz instrumentation from such a young, underground artist.
Are there any obscure bands among the 53rd Annual Grammy Nominees that you think deserve more notoriety? Let us know in the comments.
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