Los Lobos And Béla Fleck Win Key Americana Album Grammys
The Grammy Awards celebrated familiar names and veterans in the American Roots album categories on Sunday in Las Vegas, granting Los Lobos the Best Americana Album prize over several new stars of the genre, while Béla Fleck won his 15th Grammy as the instrumental double album My Bluegrass Heart owned the Best Bluegrass Album category.
“The concept of this record was gratitude,” said producer and sax player Steve Berlin as he accepted the Los Lobos Americana Album award for the acclaimed release Native Sons, a collection of covers of songs by LA bands and artists. “It was a thank you to the city that we started in and the artists and records that inspired us. I think it’s an important concept. Next year will be 50 years (since the founding of Los Lobos), which is an incredible thing to think about.”
Béla Fleck, whose supergroup from his album was performing in Massachusetts on Sunday, was not on hand, but on the prime time CBS broadcast, fellow category nominee Billy Strings brought bluegrass performance to the Grammy-watching world for the first time in years.
An exception in the youth versus experience contest was Cedric Burnside, a relative youngster in the Hill Country blues scene at age 43. He’s released about ten albums as a drummer/artist. This award was for 2021’s I Be Trying on Single Lock Records. “I’m a little Mississippi boy,” the 43-year old said as he briefly referenced his family’s deep heritage in the region’s music. “If you’re ever in the ‘sip, come by and juke a little bit. Thank y’all so much.”
Just after that, the even younger (23) Christone “Kingfish” Ingram won in the Contemporary Blues Album category for the 662, a reference to his home town’s area code in Clarksdale, MS. A breathless Ingram speedily thanked Alligator Records, his manager, his family and God before saying “for years I had to sit and watch that young black kids were not into blues, so I just hope I can show the world different.”
New Americana star Allison Russell did not win in her three nominated categories, including Best Americana Album, but she did get to perform her twice-nominated song “Nightflyer” at the Premiere ceremony with her all woman string band.
New Orleans-reared pianist, songwriter, singer and composer Jon Batiste, who’s grown in renown as band leader for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, had the biggest Grammy night of all, winning in five categories, including Best American Roots Song and Best American Roots Performance, both for “Cry” from We Are, which went on to be named the overall Album of the Year at the end of Sunday night. Batiste’s fusion of traditional R&B, neo-soul and New Orleans jazz and funk influences make him a mighty player in music, and one who will bring a fresh southern influence to popular music as a whole for the foreseeable future.