Just like last year, the R&B nominations for the 64th Grammy Awards are once again a potpourri of genre faves, surprises and omissions.
H.E.R. brings her total Grammy nominations count to 21 with eight more added Tuesday (Nov. 23) and four of those under the R&B banner: best performance and best song for “Damage,” best album for Back of My Mind and best traditional performance for “Fight for You.” And, of course, there were the expected nominations for Silk Sonic and “Leave the Door Open” (best R&B performance, best R&B song).
Also on tap were hoped-for nods on behalf of critically acclaimed projects from Jazmine Sullivan (best R&B album for Heaux Tales, best R&B performance and song for “Pick Up Your Feelings”), Lucky Daye (best progressive R&B album for Table for Two, best traditional performance for “How Much Can a Heart Take” featuring Yebba) and Giveon (best R&B song for “Heartbreak Anniversary”). The latter song was a breakthrough hit from the singer-songwriter’s Take Time EP, nominated last year for best R&B album. Snubbed last year, Snoh Aalegra won nominations for best R&B performance (“Lost You”) and best R&B album (Temporary Highs in the Violet Skies).
Several unexpected surprises also round out this year’s nominations slate. Justin Bieber received his R&B validation with a best R&B performance nod for “Peaches,” featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon. The recognition comes after the singer/songwriter posted a letter to the Recording Academy on Instagram last year after the 2021 Grammy noms announcement, declaring that his fifth album Changes — nominated for best pop vocal album — was being improperly honored as it was actually an R&B project.
Another major surprise this year is Jon Batiste. Leading the 2022 Grammy derby with 11 nods, the artist-musician-composer clinched two of those in the R&B field: best traditional R&B performance for “I Need You” and best R&B album for We Are.
In its second year of existence, the best progressive album category (formerly best urban contemporary album) numbers six nominees, owing to a tie. Besides Daye, those nominees include first-timer Masego (Studying Abroad: Extended Stay) along with previous Grammy winners Eric Bellinger (New Light, his first nod as a solo artist) and ex-Snarky Puppy member Cory Henry (Something to Say, also nominated for his co-producer-writer work on the Bellinger and Kanye West albums); prior Grammy nominees Hiatus Kaiyote (Mood Valiant) and Terrace Martin; as well as Robert Glasper, 9th Wonder & Kamasi Washington (Dinner Party: Dessert), all Grammy-nominated artists, with Glasper and 9th Wonder as past winners.
Glasper is also up a second time as a featured guest on Leon Bridges’ “Born Again” for best traditional R&B performance. “Bring It on Home to Me” by BJ the Chicago Kid, PJ Morton & Kenyon Dixon featuring Charlie Bereal completes that category. Bridges also scores a second nod for best R&B album for Gold-Diggers Sound. Nominated three times last year, including best R&B performance, singer-songwriter-musician Jacob Collier returns with a best R&B song nod for SZA’s “Good Days.”
There are some compelling outcomes to watch as the countdown begins, especially in best R&B song and R&B performance. Best R&B album nominees and labelmates H.E.R. and Sullivan are competing against each other and Silk Sonic in both categories. Then all three are vying against Bieber in the performance category.
However, there are still several striking omissions across the field. Among the names that spring to mind are newcomer Capella Grey, Ari Lennox and Normani featuring Cardi B for best R&B performance. Also Tank, Leela James, soul pioneer Merry Clayton and Charlie Wilson & Smokey Robinson’s silky pairing (“All of My Love”) for traditional R&B performance, as well as Shelley FKA DRAM for best progressive album and VanJess for best R&B album.
The 64th annual Grammy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on Jan. 31.