Drake. Justin Bieber. Florence&the Machine. Mumford&Sons. Esperneza Spalding. These are the artists vying for one of the most coveted awards at this year’s ceremony: Best New Artist. Some have better odds than others (keyword here: he’s recently taken to wearing purple glasses) but I am rooting for Flo or the Sons of Mumford…not sure the rooting’s going to go very far!
I am also rooting for another set of musicians. While South Africa might not have anything to look forward to at the Oscars, this year’s Grammys hold the possible chance of glory for Soweto Gospel Choir, already a two-time Grammy-winning group. Their latest album, Grace, is up for Best Traditional World Music Album. It’s competing against Pure Sounds from Gyuto Monks Of Tibet; I Speak Fula by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba; Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté’s Ali And Toumani and Tango Universal by Vayo. The choir’s strongest competition, I would say, comes from Ali and Toumani as the album is the second and last one that features the pairing of the late guitarist with the kora player and it has been incredibly well-received.
The choir is one of the artists listed in LA Weekly’s blog of Top 10 Under-the-Radar Grammy Artists You Should Know. Although, having collaborated with everyone from Bono to Peter Gabriel and Robert Plant (and everyone who performed at the World Cup Kickoff Concert last year!), together with numerous world tours, I think they’re a lot more known across the seas than imagined.
Longtime choir member Shimmy Jiyane and co-producers Zwai Bala and Robin Hogarth will be representing South Africa at the ceremony.
The Grammys take place this Sunday the 13th of February in Los Angeles. Co-incedentally, so too do the Baftas – only they’re in London.