Six get Reggae Grammy nod

BY KEVIN JACKSON
Observer writer

Etana, Sean Paul, Jesse Royal, Gramps Morgan, Spice, and SOJA are nominees for Best Reggae Album at the 64th Grammy Awards, scheduled for January 31, 2022 in Los Angeles.

The nominations were announced yesterday.

Etana, who is nominated for Pamoja, was ecstatic about her second nod.

“I’m so happy and too excited. Congratulations to everybody who was nominated. Music lovers gave me another nomination in reggae music and I think it’s just awesome; it’s incredible, and I’m grateful to everybody, as usual,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

She added: “Big ups to all the people who worked on the album, who are also Grammy-nominated; our background vocalists, writers, musicians and engineers.”

Pamoja was released on June 25 and has 15 tracks. Among its collaborators are Vybz Kartel, Damian Marley, Stonebwoy, and Alborosie.

Etana was first nominated in 2019 for Reggae Forever.

Gramps Morgan is a member of Morgan Heritage which won the Best Reggae Album Grammy in 2016 for Strictly Roots and was also nominated in 2018 for Avrekadabra. His third solo album, Positive Vibrations is Gramps’ first solo nomination.

“Receiving a Grammy nomination for my solo album means so much. The biggest point for me is that reggae music is being recognised and so many albums come out every year. What I am most grateful for is for my experience in creating this album. Surely, I will never make another album the same way in life. We truly all grow and I am happy with this accomplishment and happy for our genre and the other nominees,” he said, adding, “I am feeling so humbled. I’m at a point this morning where I am reflecting on my journey with my band Morgan Heritage — all the hard work that was put in throughout the years. I think of Bobby Digital, I think of Buju Banton, and I think of India Arie that we’re all very significant in the growth of myself as a solo artiste and, most importantly, my father for always believing in me, Mr Denroy Morgan.”

Positive Vibration was released via Halo Entertainment on July 23. It has 15 tracks, including the radio hits, Runaway Bay and A Woman Like You.

Released in March, Live N Livin gives Sean Paul his sixth nomination. He won in 2004 for the multi-platinum Dutty Rock while his previous nominations were for The Trinity (2006), Imperial Blaze (2010), Tomahawk Technique (2013) and Full Frequency (2015).

Live N Livin peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart in March.

“It feels amazing to be nominated for the Grammy with this album. This album means a lot to me; it’s a return to hardcore dancehall for me and it’s a collaborative album. Everyone I’ve worked with on this album is somebody who I revere from an engineer to a producer to the artist who did the artwork to the artistes who appeared. It’s a great statement of unity which I feel proud about,” said Sean Paul.

“For me, the nomination signifies that Dutty Rock Productions, my team, has come a long way. We’ve been trying to make some headway and some hits in the business. Fingers crossed, and may the best man win,” he added.

Live N Livin features collaborations with Bugle, Chi Ching Ching, Masicka, Govana, Serani, Buju Banton, Agent Sasco, Damian Marley, Mavado, Stonebwoy, Masicka and Skillibeng, among others.

Jacob Hemphill, lead singer for Virginia-based SOJA, was pleased with their third nomination.

“Music is our life. We didn’t start this band for others, we started this band for us. But looking back, it’s the fans that pushed us to continue so far. This nomination is for them — this signifies their support. Thank you all,” he said. This is the most we’ve ever put into an album — pre-COVID, during COVID. We’ve never worked this hard at achieving the best we could. Our beauty in the silence, you could say.”

Beauty in the Silence is the third nomination for SOJA, one of the top-selling reggae acts in North America. Previous nods were for 2017’s Live in Virginia and 2015’s Amid the Noise And The Haste.

Beauty in the Silence was released September 13 by ATO Records. Featuring collaborations with Stick Figure, Slightly Stoopid, Rebelution and Collie Buddz, it peaked at number two on the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart.

Royal by Jesse Royal is the singer’s first nomination. Released June 4 by New York-based Easy Star Records, the 14-track set has collaborations with Vybz Kartel, Protoje, Stonebwoy, Runkus, Samory-I and Kumar.

In an interview with this writer, Jesse Royal said he grew musically on his second album.

“The confidence that I have now in using different ingredients, trusting melodies, and being very clear with our perspectives, while being vulnerable in our art. But, at the same time, I leave that up to the listeners. It’s the listeners’ interpretation of the art that sometimes decides what their perspective of you is,” he noted. “I definitely know where we’ve grown but we still just give the people honest work and allow them to digest it and see us from where we are. Everything is like a oneness. Yesterday has to go on for today to reach, and today is still a part of tomorrow.”

Ten was the first full-length project for Spice. The album was released by VP Records on August 6 and peaked at number six on the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart.

Led by the single Go Down Deh featuring Shaggy and Sean Paul, Spice was introduced to a mainstream audience after making the rounds on highly rated television shows including Good Morning America.

Ten was executive-produced by Shaggy, who also contributed as a producer along with Dwayne “Supa Dups” Chin-Quee, Stephen McGregor, and Tony Kelly.

Olaf Blackwood, and Melissa Musique also appear on Ten.

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