There’s a lot of top-line heat over Beyonce’s epochal 2016 album “Lemonade,” which is odds-on favorite to sweep most of this year’s major-category Grammy Awards. But some North Carolina nominees also have solid chances to break through in the down-list categories.
Rhiannon Giddens - 66%
The Carolina Chocolate Drops co-founder and Steve Martin Prize winner has two nominations for her 2015 mini-album “Factory Girl” – American roots performance and folk album. And even though “Factory Girl” initially seemed like just a place-keeper for Giddens’ next full-length (“Freedom Highway,” due out Feb. 24), the planets seem to have lined up quite nicely for her. Giddens has about the highest profile of any nominee in either category, to the point that it will be a surprise if she doesn’t win at least one. Right now might be her turn.
Avett Brothers - 40%
Concord’s favorite sons also have two nominations for their current album, “True Sadness.” One of them is up against Giddens in American roots performance; if she doesn’t win that one, I think the Avetts will. Their other category is Americana album, where 80-year-old Kris Kristofferson looks like a sentimental favorite.
Robbie Fulks - 25%
Also matched up with Giddens is Creedmoor expatriate Fulks, whose “Upland Stories” is nominated for folk album. I’m afraid he’s a longshot there as well as in American roots song, where his fellow nominees include Jack White and Vince Gill.
Branford Marsalis - 50%
Durham resident Marsalis is up for jazz vocal album, a nomination shared with guest vocalist Kurt Elling for their album “Upward Spiral.” The fact that there’s another name attached, and a prominent one at that, helps Marsalis’ chances in a year when this category does not have a big crossover hit among the nominees.
Fantasia - 35%
The 2004 “American Idol” champion and High Point native is up for traditional R&B performance, a category that looks pretty wide open. Either Fantasia or venerable soul singer William Bell seem most likely to take home the trophy.
Shirley Caesar - 30%
In search of her 12th Grammy, the local gospel icon has two shots this year, in gospel album and gospel performance (the latter nomination shared with Charlotte native Anthony Hamilton). But crossover superstar Kirk Franklin is also nominated in both categories and seems like a strong favorite.
O’Connor Band - 20%
Virtuoso fiddler Mark O’Connor moved to Charlotte last year, after which his Family Band picked up a bluegrass-album nomination for “Coming Home.” But this category’s field is loaded; Doyle Lawson’s “Burden Bearer” (an album released by Arden-based Mountain Home Music Company) looks like the favorite.
Bon Iver - 1%
There’s just about no way the late great David Bowie doesn’t win alternative album, especially after his masterful “Blackstar” inexplicably didn’t get a posthumous best-album nomination. So onetime Raleigh local Justin Vernon will have to settle for the two Grammys he won back in 2012.
Mike Posner - 0.1%
Former Duke student Posner has the highest-profile nomination of any artist with local ties, for song of the year. But that means he has the smallest chance to win, too, considering the near-certainty of a Beyonce sweep. If he were to top Adele as well as Beyonce here, it would stand as one of the biggest upsets in Grammy history.