On Monday, the 58th Grammy Awards will take over the Staples Center in Los Angeles and air live at 8 p.m. on CBS.
Make sure to visit The Music Scene blog for live Grammy updates, as well as dispatches from other Grammy-related events, including the MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute honoring Lionel Richie and Clive Davis’ annual Pre-Grammy Gala, throughout the weekend. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter as well for as much up-to-the-minute content as possible.
Music fans can tap into www.grammy.com beginning at 3 p.m. Monday to see a live stream of some of the pre-show festivities.
But as we count down to music’s biggest night, here is a quartet of things to look forward to watching.
The unfortunate side of tributes is that they only exist because of loss.
The music industry was dealt a double gut-punch last month with the deaths of David Bowie and Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey. Last week, we said goodbye to Maurice White, whose fingerprints will never be erased from Earth, Wind & Fire. And in May the blues world lost its beloved ambassador, B.B. King.
You can argue endlessly about the merits of nominees in any given category, but one thing the Grammys excel at is musical collaborations and they will be on full display throughout the show.
Lady Gaga is the worthy choice to honor Bowie, which she will do in a multimedia spectacle being developed with longtime friend to the Starman, Nile Rodgers.
Most of the Eagles – Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit, Joe Walsh and Bernie Leadon (Randy Meisner is dealing with personal issues and Don Felder is apparently still an enemy) — will collaborate with Jackson Browne to memorialize Frey.
Earth, Wind & Fire was already tapped to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s ceremony, but the core surviving members – White’s bassist brother Verdine, singer Phillip Bailey and percussionist Ralph Johnson – will also present the Record of the Year award.
And B.B. King will receive a salute from the robust trifecta of blues singer-guitarist Gary Clark Jr., country’s bearded soul man Chris Stapleton and Grammy darling – and musical student of King’s – Bonnie Raitt.
As well, Natalie Cole, who died on New Year’s Day, will be remembered with a special moment; her twin sisters plan to be in attendance.
With a leading 11 nominations, rapper Kendrick Lamar could blaze through the awards and tip a couple of upsets if his “To Pimp a Butterfly” scores Album of the Year over presumed favorite Taylor Swift. But even if he taps out in the higher profile Song and Album of the Year categories, his nods for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song (both for “Alright”) are his to lose.
As for Swift, while she won Album of the Year in 2010 with “Fearless” (the youngest artist to achieve the honor), it would be considered a professional letdown if her mega-selling, mega-great “1989” didn’t score the big one this year.
Also keep an eye on Little Big Town, whose “Girl Crush” could slide in for a win for Song of the Year if Swift (“Blank Space”) and Ed Sheeran (“Thinking Out Loud”) split the pop vote and Lamar (“Alright”) and Wiz Khalifa/Charlie Puth (“See You Again”) appeal equally to the rap-minded. The country quartet with longtime Georgia ties could be poised for the kind of breakout night Stapleton enjoyed at the CMAs.
The Other Performances
Swift is set to open the show (will she share the stage with Lamar for a live rendition of “Bad Blood”?) and we know some of the collaborations – Justin Bieber with Skrillex and Diplo; Pitbull with Robin Thicke and Travis Barker; Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, John Legend and Luke Bryan (for a Lionel Richie tribute); Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood; Ellie Goulding and Andra Day; Tori Kelly and James Bay.
An Adele performance is always welcome (she’s reportedly singing “When We Were Young,” thus sparing us from hearing “Hello” for the 98,374th time) and The Weeknd and Alabama Shakes should provide a jolt of originality. Plus, a Broadway show will steal the spotlight when the cast of “Hamilton” performs direct from New York, the first musical to achieve Grammy visibility since the 2010 telecast with “American Idiot.”
And how about the TV debut of The Hollywood Vampires – otherwise known as Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp? It barely matters if they’re good. The curiosity factor alone is worth your time.
The Georgia Nominees
Several artists with local connections landed in the 83 categories, including former President Jimmy Carter with a best spoken word nod for “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.”
Among the other Georgia names are Little Big Town, whose Karen Fairchild is a graduate of Lassiter High School in Marietta and Kimberly Schlapman a native of Cornelia. The band is up for four awards, including song of the year for “Girl Crush.”
Sam Hunt, the voice behind the crossover hit, “Take Your Time,” is a native of Cedartown – 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 for “Thank You” (from their album “Kill the Flaw”) in the best metal performance category.
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”); 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, 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, nabbed a slot in the best country duo/group performance category for his first solo single, “The Driver,” featuring Dierks Bentley and Eric Paslay.
Atlanta’s Susan Archie will try to win a third Grammy; she’s nominated for “The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records” – “Volume Two (1928-32)”in the best boxed or special limited edition package category.
And the category of best historical album includes some familiar Atlanta names: Steven Lance Ledbetter and Michael Graves with “Parchman Farm: Photographs And Field Recordings, 1947–1959.”