Sylvan Esso, Rapsody and others at the Grammy Awards: How’d North Carolina do?

A number of North Carolina acts scored Grammy Award nominations this year, from rapper Rapsody to classical organist Christopher Jacobson. Here’s how they did.

▪ RapsodyThe Raleigh rapper was up for two Grammys, rap song (for “Sassy”) and rap album (“Laila’s Wisdom”) but lost both to Kendrick Lamar. He won best rap song for “Humble” and rap album for “DAMN.” Rapsody was the only woman in the latter category.

Rapsody may not have walked away with an award, but she made the most of her Grammy weekend, walking the Red Carpet and showing up at events with A-list musical acts.

Sunday night, she wore an emerald green suit; the jacket’s train trailed after her and her gold shoes. She wore a white rose, as other artists did to show their support for the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement.

She also got a brief flicker of screen time when the camera cut to her and other nominees during Lamar’s acceptance speech for his best-rap-album Grammy.


She posed with 9th Wonder, the Triangle-based producer and head of Jamla Records.

She may also have carried a slip of paper that said, “In memory of Laila Ray,” according to an Instagram post from her stylist. Laila is the name of Rapsody’s grandmother and for whom Rapsody named her album, “Laila’s Wisdom.”


Red Carpet Ready.... #LailasAtTheGrammys #LailasWisdom #Grammys2018 #Rapsody

A post shared by Erica Nicole (@justericanicole) on

Saturday night, she was photographed with Jay-Z, head of Roc Nation. Rapsody signed with Roc Nation, which released the album with Jamla Records, the label launched by Triangle super-producer, Grammy winner 9th Wonder. Rapsody and Jay-Z were both up for Best Rap Album.

Meanwhile, Rapsody’s fans tweeted their support online, including from North Carolina.

Other North Carolina moments

▪  Eric Church, a North Carolina native, joined country singers Maren Morris and the Brothers Osborne to sing Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.” The performance was meant to “honor the victims lost to gun violence and terrorism at various live music events over the course of the past year,” according to a statement. All were performers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, when 58 people were killed after a man opened fire on Oct. 1.

▪ Sylvan EssoThe Durham duo was up for best dance/electronic album for last year’s “What Now.” But they lost to Kraftwerk, the long-lived German group, for “3-D The Catalogue.” It is Kraftwerk’s first regular Grammy win, after a lifetime achievement award in 2014 and induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2015.

▪ Christopher Jacobson – Duke Chapel organist Jacobson was up for his first Grammy, in the category of best choral performance for playing on South Dakota Chorale’s “Tyberg: Masses.” But the Grammy went to “Bryars: The Fifth Century,” conducted by Donald Nally.

“Tyberg” was also nominated for best surround album and best-engineered classical album, and it was part of Blanton Alspaugh’s nomination for producer of the year. It came up empty in all three categories.

▪ Iron & Wine – Chapel Hill’s Sam Beam was up for best Americana album alongside Gregg Allman, Brent Cobb, Jason Isbell and The Mavericks.

Isbell and the 400 Unit won the award for “If We Were Vampires.”

▪ Anthony Hamilton – The Charlotte singer was nominated for Best Traditional R&B performance alongside The Baylor Project, Childish Gambino, Ledisi and Mali Music.

Childish Gambino (known also as Donald Glover) won for “Redbone.”

Also of local note, The War on Drugs won Best Rock Album for “A Deeper Understanding,” which was executive-produced by Triangle resident Brad Cook. In another local connection, former Ben Folds Five drummer Darren Jesse played on one of this album’s songs.

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi

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