For the second straight year, an act with Triangle connections will be center stage at next February's Grammy Awards. Where it was Arcade Fire this past year, next year it will be Bon Iver - whose frontman Justin Vernon used to call Raleigh home.
Bon Iver (pronounced "bahn-ivair") scored nominations in the prestigious record and song of the year categories for "Holocene," a track from the group's eponymous 2011 album. That was part of a four-nomination haul, including best alternative album and best new artist.
The latter category is odd because "Bon Iver" was the group's third release - and its first two both made the top half of the Billboard 200 album sales charts. One of the other best-new-artist nominees also has North Carolina connections, Fayetteville rapper J. Cole, on the strength of his chart-topping album "Cole World: The Sideline Story."
Industry observer Sean Ross, executive editor of the Ross On Radio newsletter, cites Nicki Minaj as this year's worthiest best-new-artist nominee. But he predicts that Minaj won't win because she and J. Cole "will cancel each other out," which might allow Bon Iver to sneak in there the way Arcade Fire did for album of the year back in February.
The nominations were announced Wednesday night at a concert at Staples Center in Los Angeles, where the awards will be presented Feb. 12. As expected, British pop-soul singer Adele's top-selling "21" album led the field with six nominations. Bruno Mars, Mumford & Sons, Rihanna and Lady Gaga all picked up multiple nominations in the major categories, too.
As for other nominations of North Carolina interest:
Eric Church, an Appalachian State University alumnus from Granite Falls, was nominated for best country album, up against a field including Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum and Jason Aldean.
N.C. School of the Arts alumnus Jim Lauderdale, a two-time winner in past years, earned a nomination for best bluegrass album for "Reason and Rhyme," a collaboration with Robert Hunter. Lauderdale also appears on "I Love: Tom T. Hall's Songs of Fox Hollow," nominated for best children's album. Among Lauderdale's competition in the bluegrass category will be Brevard's Steep Canyon Rangers, sharing a nomination with comedian/banjo player Steve Martin for "Rare Bird Alert."
Asheville guitarist Warren Haynes, a veteran of Gov't Mule and the Allman Brothers, was nominated for best blues album for "Man in Motion."
Durham-based Merge Records, which captured last year's best-album Grammy with Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs," picked up a best-recording-package nomination for the expanded deluxe version of the same album. Zooey Deschanel, who records with M. Ward as the Merge duo She & Him, also was nominated in best song written for visual media, for the "Winnie the Pooh" song "So Long."
Marsalis Music, the label of Durham jazzman Branford Marsalis, scored in the category of best large jazz ensemble album for "Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook."
Levon Helm's live album "Ramble at the Ryman," nominated for best Americana album, includes "Anna Lee," a song written by Greensboro's Laurelyn Dossett. "Anna Lee" has already been on one Grammy-winning album, Helm's "Dirt Farmer," which won best traditional folk album in 2008.
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