Saturday, December 09, 2006

Mary J. Blige Leads Nominees for Grammy Awards While Her Recording Career Reaches New Heights

Mary J. Blige leads Grammy nominations with eight

By Evelyn McDonnell
Miami Herald

R&B singer Mary J. Blige is adding another chapter to her incredible tale of pop-music survivalism: The Yonkers, New York, native has been nominated for eight Grammys, including record of the year and song of the year (for "Be Without You"), the Recording Academy announced Thursday in Los Angeles.

The queen of ghetto fab, who has seen her 14-year career survive drugs, aggressive diva behavior, and bad P. Diddy production, led the pack of nominations. But mostly this year's nods were spread out among a somewhat diverse group of artists, with rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers nominated for six Grammys and Brit crooner James Blunt, more-than-country group the Dixie Chicks, producer Rick Rubin and legendary artist Prince among the acts getting five nods.

"These nominations truly reflect a diverse and vibrant community of music makers and creators who represent some of the most remarkable music of the year," said Neil Portnow, President of The Recording Academy, in a press release.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the Academy's recognition of Danger Mouse, who was nominated for five awards. Just three years ago, the adventurous hip-hop and indie-rock producer was almost sued out of existence when his mashup of the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's "The Black Album" was an illicit Internet hit. This year he was nominated as producer of the year for his work on the Rapture's "Pieces of the People we Love" and on "St. Elsewhere," the debut album by Gnarls Barkley, Danger Mouse's group with singer Cee-Lo. Gnarls Barkley was nominated for five Grammys, including song and album of the year.

The academy again passed over such hit hip-hop and pop producers as Scott Storch, Timbaland and the Neptunes in the producer category, instead choosing Danger Mouse. Timbaland was nominated in other categories for his songs with Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake (winner of four nominations).

Hip-hop in general was passed over in top categories, as it was at MTV's Video Music Awards presented earlier this year. Instead academy voters favored pop and R&B.

For instance, smooth soul stylist Corrine Bailey Rae is this year's academy-anointed fledgling songbird. She was nominated for record and song of the year and best new artist.

The Dixie Chicks' six nominations, including for album, record, and song of the year, are a triumph for the all-female Texas trio, who has been shunned by much of the country community since Natalie Maines spoke out against President Bush and the war in Iraq three years ago.

The 49th annual Grammy Awards will be held Feb. 11 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast by CBS.

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