Jamaican women score three Grammy nods for the first time

Dancehall Queen wins 2019 MTV Movie, TV Awards
Dancehall Queen Spice at the 2019 MTV Movie and TV Awards event.

In the very macho-oriented music industry, Jamaican women have always complained about the gender bias practices they allege predominant in traditional reggae and dancehall. Last week the most recognized authorities of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences shattered the long-held assumption by naming two Jamaican women among six contenders in the Best Reggae Album Grammy category and another for contributing to one of the top awards slated for the 64th annual Grammy Awards.

For the first time in the 36-year history of the reggae category, Etana and Spice are nominees simultaneously competing for the sole honor to the genre.  Spice is nominated for the Shaggy-produced “10,” while Etana earned a nomination for her album “Pamoja.”

Best Reggae Album: Pamoja — Etana, Positive Vibration — Gramps Morgan, Live N Livin — Sean Paul, Royal — Jesse Royal, Beauty In The Silence — SOJA, 10 — Spice

Only four females were previously nominated in the category — Koffee, won last year with her “Rapture” EP; Rita Marley was nominated for “We Must Carry On” in 1991; Sister Carol won notices for “Lyrically Potent” in 1996; and Etana managed her first nod with “Reggae Forever in 2018.”

In addition to the gender revealing news, 25-year-old Shenseea could well collect a golden. miniature gramophone as a reward for collaborating with five-time nominee Kanye West on his “Donda” release.

Added in last-minute decisions to up the category to 10 nominations with Taylor Swift’s pop entry, Kanye’s competition for the most anticipated winner of the Album of the Year, could triple chances for the third Jamaican woman.

If the rapper wins, Shenseea would automatically qualify to receive one for featuring on the 27-track release.

Album of the Year: We Are — Jon Batiste, Love For Sale — Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe) — Justin Bieber, Planet Her (Deluxe) — Doja Cat, Happier Than Ever — Billie Eilish, Back Of My Mind — H.E.R., Montero — Lil Nas X, Sour — Olivia Rodrigo, Evermore — Taylor Swift, Donda — Kanye West

A revision of Grammy rules this year stipulates “if an album is up for Album Of The Year, then all credited featured artists, songwriters of new material, producers, recording engineers, mixers, and mastering engineers who worked on that album are automatically nominated.”

“Featured artists are Grammy-eligible in Album Of The Year; they are eligible in the genre album categories if they perform on more than 51 percent of playing time; and are eligible in performance categories if they are credited as a featured artist on the track/single.

According to NARAS — “To be recognized as a Grammy nominee, a featured artist must be credited as a featured artist; and make a significant and artistic contribution beyond accompaniment.”

Previously, the Grammy rule stated that all of these music professionals had to be credited with 33 percent or more of playing time (on the album), in order to be nominated.

Chinsea Lee was elated when she got the news. Assuming the revised Album of the Year rules applied to the Best Dance/Electronic Music Album, Best Progressive R&B Album, Best Rap Album categories she collaborated with West, Masego and Major Lazor, Chinsea Lee AKA Shenseea posted on social media that she was nominated four times.

Not so, her theory was quickly debunked by voting members of NARAS who explained that being featured does not insure nomination unless the collaborator provides more than half to the project.

Shenseea is a newcomer to the international scene her debut album is slated for release next year.

Best Rap Album: The Off-Season — J. Cole, Certified Lover Boy — Drake, King’s Disease II — Nas, Call Me If You Get Lost — Tyler, The Creator Donda — Kanye West

Other Jamaicans who could benefit from a West win include Buju Banton for adding his grovelly tone on “Believe What I Say.”

Meanwhile, 26-year-old Beam. another Jamaican could upset Donda’s streak if Justin Bieber’s “Justice” takes the Album of the Year category. Beam contributed to “Love You Different.”


Can Barack Obama, the first Black president of the United States increase his trophy collection in 2022? He already has two Grammy awards in his treasure trove of accomplishments winning the Best Spoken Word category in 2006 when he collected his first for “Dreams From My Father.”

He repeated his prowess in 2008 copping another for “Audacity of Hope.”

Can he beat Hollywood royalty Don Cheadle, Star Wars legend Levar Burton or controversial comedian Dave Chappelle?

Three might be Obama’s charm.

Spoken Word: Aftermath — LeVar Burton, Carry On: Reflections For A New Generation From John Lewis — Don Cheadle, Catching Dreams: Live At Fort Knox Chicago — J. Ivy, 8:46 — Dave Chappelle & Amir Sulaiman, A Promised Land — Barack Obama
Stay tuned, time will tell on Jan. 31, 2022 when the winner is announced from the Staples Center.

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