Rebirth Brass Band, Lil Wayne, Harry Connick Jr. among Grammy nominees
Rebirth Brass Band founder Phil Frazier once said he’d rather win a Grammy than be rich. He's still not rich, but took a significant step toward realizing his preferred goal Wednesday night when Rebirth’s current “Rebirth of New Orleans” CD was nominated for a Grammy.
The complete list of nominees for the 54th annual Grammy Awards were unveiled Wednesday night following the Grammy nominations telecast, a sort of pre-awards awards show, on CBS.
"Rebirth of New Orleans" was the long-running brass band's first release for the locally based Basin Street Records; it was produced by Tracey Freeman, best known for his work with Harry Connick Jr. and Kermit Ruffins. The Rebirth album will compete with two other Louisiana albums in the newly created best regional roots music album category. Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboy’s “Grand Isle” and C.J. Chenier’s “Can’t Sit Down” are nominated in the same category, along with perennial polka favorite Jimmy Sturr and Hawaiian music act George Kahumoku Jr.
"Regional roots music" is a catch-all category created after several individual “roots music” categories, including Cajun/zydeco and Hawaiian music, were eliminated in this year's reduction of the total number of categories from 109 to 78.
Regardless of the category, Phil Frazier is ecstatic about the first Grammy nomination in the Rebirth Brass Band's 28 year history. Basin Street Records founder Mark Samuels called Frazier with news of the nomination Wednesday night. Since then, Frazier says, his phone has been "going haywire" with congratulatory calls. "I feel like I accomplished one of my goals. I feel like I just won a million dollars."
He said he and the band will likely travel to Los Angeles for the actual Grammy Awards show on Feb. 12. If they win, "that would be the nail in the coffin."
Several other nominees boast Louisiana ties.
New Orleans rapper Lil Wayne is up for five awards, including best rap album for “Tha Carter IV.”
Local kids' music duo Gwynn Torres and Sid Berger, who perform as The Banana Plant, are nominated for best children's music album for their "GulfAlive" CD.
Gospel duo Trin-i-tee 5:7’s “Angel & Chanelle Deluxe Edition” is nominated for best gospel album.
Grammy veteran Harry Connick Jr. earned a nod for best traditional pop vocal album for his “In Concert on Broadway.”
Singer Ledisi Young, who was born in New Orleans but moved to Oakland, Calif., as a girl, received three nominations related to her well-received “Pieces of Me” CD, including best R&B album, song and performance.
Lucinda Williams, who spent some of formative years in New Orleans and south Louisiana, is up for best Americana album for “Blessed.”
The culminating performance of Wednesday night’s nomination telecast on CBS – a clever bit of hype-building that essentially milks two prime-time TV specials out of one awards show – featured Lady Gaga and Sugarland performing Gaga’s “You and I.”
The cameras focused almost exclusively on Gaga and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles. The band’s New Orleanian rhythm section, drummer Travis McNabb and bassist Annie Clements, was glimpsed only briefly.
No doubt Phil Frazier and the rest of Rebirth hope they earn more air-time than McNabb and Clements when the Grammy winners are presented Feb. 12 in Los Angeles.
In other Grammy news, mercurial rapper Kanye West racked up seven nominations while country-pop sweetheart Taylor Swift was largely shut out of the major categories.
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