Grammy Awards 2021: Memphis and Mid-South musicians among those nominated
A handful of Memphis and Mid-South musicians — including R&B vocalist Don Bryant, venerable bluesman Bobby Rush and roots rock band North Mississippi Allstars — are among those nominated for 2021 Grammy awards.
The nominations for the 63rd annual Grammys were announced Tuesday morning during a virtual event led by interim Grammy president Harvey Mason Jr., and featuring stars including Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa.
The Best Traditional Blues Album category includes three area artists. Memphis soul great Don Bryant earned his first ever nomination for the LP “You Make Me Feel.” The album — which was written with and produced by The Bo-Keys' Scott Bomar, and mixed by multiple Grammy winner Matt Ross-Spang — caps a remarkable comeback for Hi Records veteran Bryant, who resumed his solo career in 2015 following a nearly 50-year break. The 78 year-old Bryant now joins his wife, singer Ann Pebbles, as a Grammy nominee. Peebles earned a pair of nominations in the early 1970s.
Past Grammy winner and Mississippi music icon Bobby Rush earned his sixth career nomination for “Rawer Than Raw,” while Bentonia, Mississippi, native Jimmy “Duck” Holmes was recognized for his latest effort, “Cypress Grove.” Bryant, Rush and Holmes will be vying for the Best Traditional Blues Album trophy in a field that also includes The Robert Cray Band and Frank Bey.
The North Mississippi Allstars — the long-running blues-rock band led by brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson — will compete in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category. The group earned the honor for its 2019 album, “Up and Rolling.” This marks the band’s fourth Grammy nomination, and first since 2005.
The Commercial Appeal’s music critic Bob Mehr was also nominated for a Grammy in the Best Album Notes category. Mehr — the New York Times bestselling of "Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements" — was nominated for his notes to The Replacements’ release “Dead Man’s Pop,” which he also co-produced.
A pair of Arkansas-rooted artists will also be up for awards. The Best Traditional R&B Performance category will feature the song “Distance” recorded by West Memphis native Yebba, aka Abigail Elizabeth Smith. Smith previously won in this same category in 2018 along with PJ Morton.
The Best Country Album award nominees include Hardy, Arkansas-born Ashley McBryde. McBryde’s “Never Will” LP will be up against a group that includes Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town, among others.
Honorary Mid-Southerners and Memphis Music Hall of Fame members ZZ Top also received Grammy recognition. A documentary on the group, directed by Sam Dunn, “That Little Ole’ Band From Texas: ZZ Top,” will compete for the Best Music Film award.
Other locals involved in Grammy-nominated projects include Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell of South Memphis’ Royal Studios, who helped engineer Brandy Clark’s “Your Life is a Record,” which is up for Best Country Album. Mitchell also helped produce a track on the North Mississippi Allstars' "Up and Rolling" album. Mitchell is a previous Grammy winner for his work with Bruno Mars.
“King’s Disease” by New York hip-hop great Nas is up for Rap Album of the Year. Memphis bass star Dywane “MonoNeon” Thomas Jr. appears on one of the album's tracks, “All Bad,” featuring Anderson .Paak.
In addition, Take Out Vinyl, the Memphis-based mastering operation run by Jeff Powell, contributed to the work of several Grammy nominees. Powell worked on Billie Eilish’s Record and Song of the Year candidate, “Everything I Wanted,” as well as nominated projects by Courtney Marie Andrews and Sarah Jarosz. Powell’s colleague at Take Out Vinyl, Lucas Peterson, also worked on Lucinda Williams’ “Good Souls, Better Angles,” which is up for Best Americana Album.
The 2021 Grammy Awards will be presented Jan. 31, with the ceremony airing on CBS.