Your N.C. Grammy nominees tip sheet

Staff writerFebruary 13, 2011 

APTOPIX Grammy Awards Arrivals

Lady Gaga arrives at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, in Los Angeles.

CHRIS PIZZELLO — Chris Pizzello - AP

High-profile categories like Record of the Year will get most of the attention at tonight's Grammy Awards. But for our purposes, the real action is down-ballot a bit, where North Carolina nominees have chances ranging from small to almost certain. So when all the other categories are scrolling by during the telecast, here's what to watch for:

Merge Records

90 percent chance of winning

The Durham-based label is up for three Grammys for Arcade Fire's chart-topping album "The Suburbs," including Album of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The group has virtually no chance at the first, where Eminem looks like a strong favorite; and Kings of Leon will more than likely take the second. But thanks to that album-of-the-year nod, Arcade Fire is a virtual lock to win best alternative album. Vampire Weekend looks like the only legitimate threat in the category.

Carolina Chocolate Drops

80 percent

They're nominated for best traditional folk album against Ricky Skaggs, who has a formidable resume with 14 Grammys (including best bluegrass album last year). But that familiarity might work against Skaggs this time, especially since the Chocolate Drops have been on such a roll the past two years. The John Hartford Stringband, with members hailing from Asheville and Lexington, might get some sentimental votes for the posthumous John Hartford tribute "Memories of John," but probably not enough to win.

Shirley Caesar

50 percent

Speaking of impressive Grammy pedigrees, Triangle gospel icon Caesar has 11 to her credit. Most years she would seem like a lead-pipe cinch for best traditional gospel album. But maybe not this year, when the well-regarded country-rock singer Patty Griffin is nominated for her live gospel collection "Downtown Church." Griffin is exactly the sort of industry pro the Grammy folks love.

Fantasia

40 percent

The High Point "American Idol" is a long shot for best R&B album, in where she's up against John Legend & The Roots. But she might fare better in best female R&B vocal performance because there's no clear runaway favorite.

Lewis Black

30 percent

The UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus is nominated for best comedy album, which he has won before - but so have fellow nominees Flight of the Conchords and Robin Williams. Kathy Griffin has never won and this is her third nomination, so it might be her turn.

Calvin Richardson

20 percent

The Monroe native will most likely lose out to John Legend & The Roots in best traditional R&B vocal performance.

david.menconi@newsobserver.com or blogs.newsobserver.com/beat or 919-829-4759

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