Kentucky musicians made their presence known in this year’s Grammy Award nominations, particularly Sturgill Simpson’s somewhat surprising nomination for album of the year.
The artist, who was raised in Versailles and lived in Lexington for a while, was tapped for his spring release, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” which was critically acclaimed for its thematic structure and mix of country, blues and soul. That puts Simpson in the company of Adele for “25,” Justin Bieber for “Purpose,” Drake for “Views” and Beyoncé for “Lemonade,” which was considered a favorite for the award before nominations were even announced.
“Sailor’s Guide” is also nominated for best country album, which will put him up against Kentuckian and Queen of Country Music Loretta Lynn, nominated for her “Full Circle.” Also up for that award is Brandy Clark’s “Big Day in a Small Town,” Maren Morris’ “Hero” and Keith Urban’s “Ripcord.”
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Virgie native Josh Osbourne, who already has a Grammy for co-writing Kacey Musgraves’ “Merry Go Round,” is back in contention for best country song with Miranda Lambert’s “Vice,” which he co-wrote with Lambert and Shane McAnally.
A group we may never have expected to see in a country category is Pentatonix, whose ranks include Owensboro’s Kevin Olusola, nominated with Dolly Parton for best country performance, duo or group, for their take on Parton’s classic “Jolene.”
Also getting a writing nod is Louisville’s breakout R&B star Bryson Tiller, who is nominated for best R&B song with Michael Hernandez for “Exchange.”
And out of Bowling Green, Cage the Elephant gets a nomination for best rock album for “Tell Me I’m Pretty.” Their competition is “California” by Blink-182, “Magma” by Gojira, “Death of a Bachelor” by Panic! At The Disco and Weezer’s “Weezer.”
Those are the Kentucky artists we spotted reading through the list. If we missed anyone, pop me an email.