Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd lead Grammy nominations; Georgia Christian, country artists show big

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Rapper Kendrick Lamar leads the Grammy nominations with 11. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
Rapper Kendrick Lamar leads the Grammy nominations with 11. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Rapper Kendrick Lamar leads the Grammy nominations with 11. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

The searing rap of Kendrick Lamar, quirky R&B of The Weeknd and easily digestible pop of Taylor Swift lead the nominations for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.

Lamar, the visceral rapper from Compton, steered the pack with 11 nods, followed by The Weeknd and Swift with seven each.

While none of that trio is a particular surprise – all have been greatly lauded throughout the year and the late 2014 release of Swift’s “1989” album guaranteed she wouldn’t be eligible until the 2016 ceremony (much like Adele – we’ll see plenty of her in 2017) – a few unlikely names popped out.

Chris Stapleton continues to receive a deserved spotlight with his “Traveller” album, which will compete for album of the year along with Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Swift’s “1989,” The Weeknd’s “Beauty Behind the Madness” and Alabama Shakes’ “Sound & Color.”

Stapleton also earned nods in the country categories of best country album, best county solo performance and best country song for the title track.

Little Big Town crushed it again with four Grammy nods.

Little Big Town crushed it again with four Grammy nods.

Country had another strong showing with the frequent presence of Little Big Town – a band with longtime Georgia ties – who scored a high-profile nomination for song of the year with “Girl Crush.” The band was also targeted for nominations for best country duo/group performance, best country song and best country album (“Pain Killer”).

Alabama Shakes also made an impression with an album of the year nod for “Sound & Color,” as well as best rock performance and best rock song (“Don’t Wanna Fight”) and best alternative music album, among their nominations.

Many obvious pop names appeared as well: British darling Ed Sheeran for record of the year, song of the year and best pop solo performance with his elegant “Thinking Out Loud”; the “All About That Bass” phenom Meghan Trainor, who will vie for best new artist alongside Courtney Barnett, James Bay, Sam Hunt and Tori Kelly; Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for record of the year with “Uptown Funk”; and the Wiz Khalifa/Charlie Puth collaboration, “See You Again,” from the Atlanta-filmed “Furious 7,” for song of the year and best pop duo/group performance.

Along with Little Big Town, whose Karen Fairchild is a graduate of Lassiter High School in Marietta and Kimberly Schlapman a native of Cornelia, several artists with local connections landed in the 83 categories – including former President Jimmy Carter, who received more good news with his nod for best spoken word album (“A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety”).

Hunt, the voice behind the crossover hit, “Take Your Time,” is a native of Cedartown, Ga. – and a former star football player at Cedartown High School — and is in the running for best country album (“Montevallo”) as well as best new artist.

Atlanta’s metal rockers Sevendust earned their first-ever Grammy nod with one for “Thank You” (from their album “Kill the Flaw”) in the best metal performance category.

The elegant Jidenna is part of Janelle Monae's Wondaland crew. (Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Special to the AJC)

The elegant Jidenna is part of Janelle Monae’s Wondaland crew. (Akili-Casundria Ramsess/Special to the AJC)

Smooth soul singers Jidenna and Roman GianArthur, both part of the Wondaland collective spearheaded by Atlanta’s Janelle Monae, received a nomination for “Classic Man” in the best rap/sung collaboration category.

Georgia-related artists own the best contemporary Christian music performance/song categories with showings by Atlanta’s Third Day (“Soul on Fire”) and Crowder (“Lift Your Head Weary Sinner [Chains]”); and Francesca Battistelli (“Holy Spirit”), who recently moved to Nashville from Canton, where her father, Billy Goodwin of Valdosta-based NewSong lives.

In the best contemporary Christian music album category, Chris Tomlin, who co-founded Buckhead’s Passion City Church, will compete with “Love Ran Red.”

Tasha Cobbs, a native of Jesup, Ga., scored a nod for best gospel album (“One Place Live”), while Dahlonega’s Karen Peck and New River are among the nominees in the best roots gospel album category.

Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, whose roots are in Augusta, is readying a solo release for 2016 and his first single, “The Driver,” with Dierks Bentley and Eric Paslay, nabbed a slot in the best country duo/group performance category.

The categories of best historical album and best boxed or special limited edition package include some familiar Atlanta names: Steven Lance Ledbetter and Michael Graves are part of the former with “Parchman Farm: Photographs And Field Recordings, 1947–1959,” while Susan Archie landed in the latter with “The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume Two (1928-32).”

Nominations for the Grammy Awards are based on recordings released between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015.

The ceremony will air live from Los Angeles at 8 p.m. Feb. 15 on CBS.

Here are some highlighted nominees (for a complete list,

Album Of The Year:

“Sound & Color” — Alabama Shakes

“To Pimp A Butterfly” — Kendrick Lamar

“Traveller” — Chris Stapleton

“1989” — Taylor Swift

“Beauty Behind The Madness” — The Weeknd

Record Of The Year:

“Really Love” — D’Angelo And The Vanguard

“Uptown Funk” — Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars

“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran

“Blank Space” — Taylor Swift

“Can’t Feel My Face” — The Weeknd

Song Of The Year:

“Alright” — Kendrick Duckworth, Mark Anthony Spears & Pharrell Williams, songwriters (Kendrick Lamar)

“Blank Space” — Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)

“Girl Crush” — Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna & Liz Rose, songwriters (Little Big Town)

“See You Again” — Andrew Cedar, Justin Franks, Charles Puth & Cameron Thomaz, songwriters (Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth)

“Thinking Out Loud” — Ed Sheeran & Amy Wadge, songwriters (Ed Sheeran)

Best New Artist:

Courtney Barnett

James Bay

Sam Hunt

Tori Kelly

Meghan Trainor

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

“Ship To Wreck” — Florence + The Machine

“Sugar” — Maroon 5

“Uptown Funk” — Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars

“Bad Blood” — Taylor Swift Featuring Kendrick Lamar

“See You Again” — Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth

Best Dance Recording:

“We’re All We Need” — Above & Beyond Featuring Zoë Johnston

“Go” — The Chemical Brothers

“Never Catch Me” — Flying Lotus Featuring Kendrick Lamar

“Runaway (U & I)” — Galantis

“Where Are Ü Now” — Skrillex And Diplo With Justin Bieber

Best Rock Performance:

“Don’t Wanna Fight” — Alabama Shakes

“What Kind Of Man” — Florence + The Machine

“Something From Nothing” — Foo Fighters

“Ex’s & Oh’s” — Elle King

“Moaning Lisa Smile” — Wolf Alice

Best Alternative Music Album:

“Sound & Color” — Alabama Shakes

“Vulnicura” — Björk

“The Waterfall” — My Morning Jacket

“Currents” — Tame Impala

“Star Wars” — Wilco

Best Urban Contemporary Album:

“Ego Death” — The Internet

“You Should Be Here” — Kehlani

“Blood” — Lianne La Havas

“Wildheart”  — Miguel

“Beauty Behind The Madness” — The Weeknd

Best Rap Album:

“2014 Forest Hills Drive” — J. Cole

“Compton” — Dr. Dre

“If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” — Drake

“To Pimp A Butterfly” — Kendrick Lamar

“The Pinkprint” — Nicki Minaj

Best Country Album:

“Montevallo” — Sam Hunt

“Pain Killer” — Little Big Town

“The Blade” — Ashley Monroe

“Pageant Material” — Kacey Musgraves

“Traveller” — Chris Stapleton

Best Gospel Album:

“Destined To Win (Live)” — Karen Clark Sheard

“Living It” — Dorinda Clark-Cole

“One Place Live” — Tasha Cobbs

“Covered: Alive Is Asia [Live] (Deluxe)” — Israel & Newbreed

“Life Music: Stage Two” — Jonathan McReynolds

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album:

“Whatever The Road” — Jason Crabb

“How Can It Be” — Lauren Daigle

“Saints And Sinners” — Matt Maher

“This Is Not A Test” — Tobymac

“Love Ran Red” — Chris Tomlin

Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling):

“Blood On Snow (Jo Nesbø)” — Patti Smith

“Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, And Assorted Hijinks” — Dick Cavett

“A Full Life: Reflections At Ninety” — Jimmy Carter

“Patience And Sarah (Isabel Miller)” — Janis Ian & Jean Smart

“Yes, Please” — Amy Poehler (& Various Artists)




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