NC musicians: What are the odds at the Grammys?

dmenconi@newsobserver.comFebruary 9, 2013 

The Grammy Awards were a cinch to predict last year: An Adele landslide appeared to be the most likely outcome, and the British singer took home six including the grand prize, Album of the Year. By contrast, there are no sure things this year – which also goes for the categories where North Carolina folks are up for awards. Here’s how our state’s nominees figure to do Sunday night:

Eric Church – 50 percent chance of winning

The Granite Falls native has had an epic stretch since his 2011 album, “Chief,” established Church as one of the biggest country crossovers in recent memory. This will make for an intriguing test of his mainstream appeal. The “Chief” hit “Springsteen” has two nominations: for country song and country solo performance. It’s up against “American Idol” mega-darling Carrie Underwood in both. Both categories look like a 50-50 tossup between those two.

Carolina Chocolate Drops – 45 percent

The Triangle’s own Carolina Chocolate Drops were one of the feel-good stories of 2010, cracking the charts with their big-league debut “Genuine Negro Jig” and winning the folk-album Grammy. They’ve got a chance to make it two for two with last year’s “Leaving Eden,” although they’re not necessarily the frontrunner. Perennial favorite Ry Cooder is also nominated, but their main competition looks like the classical-folk supergroup of Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile, whose “The Goat Rodeo Sessions” represents just the sort of classy eclecticism that Grammy loves. Plus Thile won a MacArthur “Genius Grant” in October, and Grammy loves officially anointed geniuses even more. Still, no group toured harder last year than the Chocolate Drops, so we’ll see.

Anthony Hamilton – 40 percent

Charlotte native Hamilton is up for R&B song (“Pray for Me”) and album (“Back to Love”), and he’s got a pretty decent shot at both because neither category has a stand-out favorite. After sharing a Grammy with Al Green in 2009, Hamilton might well get at least one on his own this time.

Steep Canyon Rangers – 35 percent

The Brevard bluegrass band was nominated last year with banjo-playing humorist Steve Martin for their collaboration, but this year the Rangers have a nomination all to themselves. There’s not an overwhelming favorite in bluegrass album, so it’s possible that enough of Martin’s celebrity cachet will linger to give them an edge to win their first Grammy.

Avett Brothers – 10 percent

It’s fantastic that the Concord group picked up a nomination for Americana album. Alas, with Mumford & Sons, Bonnie Raitt and Lumineers also nominated, it’s a category they’ve got almost no shot in. Their day will come, but probably not this year. Others

Jacksonville native Ryan Adams isn’t up for a Grammy, but his 2011 release “Ashes & Fire” is nominated for best-engineered non-classical album, up against the Yo-Yo Ma-led supergroup’s “The Goat Rodeo Sessions.” If “Ashes” prevails, the Grammy will go to engineer Glyn Johns and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig.

Speaking of mastering, Charlotte native Dan Millice mastered Trey Songz’s “Heart Attack” – up for R&B song, competing with the aforementioned Hamilton’s “Pray For Me.”

Finally, if the Carolina Chocolate Drops win best folk album, it will be the third time that Greensboro songwriter Laurelyn Dossett has had a song on a Grammy-winner. She wrote the title track to the Drops’ “Leaving Eden” and previously had a song appear on two Grammy-winning albums by the late, great Levon Helm.

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