The ‘Best Reggae Album’ Grammy nominees for 2019 with three former winners and two newcomers, this year’s field are the most competitive in recent memory. Two of the most powerful and successful brands in popular music, Marley and Sting, are competing against each other to win Best Reggae Album. Shaggy is one of the top three brands in reggae/dancehall. Add reggae’s first Grammy winner Black Uhuru, one of the most successful international reggae groups, Etana who is seeking to create history as the first female to win the coveted award, and Protoje, one the leaders of reggae revival Reggae music lovers are excited to see who will take home the award.
With history and precedent at stake, the five albums, As The World Turns, Black Uhuru’s, Reggae Forever, Etana, Rebellion Rises, Ziggy Marley, A Matter of Time, Protoje, and 44/876, Sting & Shaggy are creating much debate in social media and the reggae global space.
The Best Reggae Album award has never been won by a female artist. In thirty eight years National Academy of Record Arts Sciences has nominated only three female artists. The first female was, Judy Mowatt in 1985 for ‘Working Wonders.”. The album also received a nomination for the NAACP IMAGE award. Working Wonders lost to Anita Bakers Rapture. In 1992 Rita Marley was nominated, for “We Must Carry On“. DJ actress Sister Carol’s nominated for “Lyrically Potent” in 1997.
To win Etana, who’s “Reggae Forever” broke the nineteen-year female nomination drought, will have defy history to become the first female Reggae Grammy winner. Reggae Entertainment expert Copeland Forbes publicly predicted that Etana will create history and become the first female to win Best Reggae Album’ award.
Black Uhuru won the first Grammy Award for Best Reggae Recording in 1985 are up for their second with “As The World Turns”. Group leader Derrick ‘Duckie Simpson’ for the first time, does lead vocals on all the tracks. Black Uhuru has had multiple personnel changes including five lead singers since 1985. Will Duckie’s new lead be the difference? Can Black Uhuru repeat history? Protoje with his first nomination “A Matter of Time” is seen as an outlier. Sting is also up for his first reggae Grammy along with Shaggy, who is up for his fifth with 44/876. Will the Sting factor make a difference?
Winning won’t be easy for Etana, Black Uhuru and Protoje. They are up against two of the strongest most successful brand in music reggae and popular music, Brand-Marley and Sting. Sting has had forty-five nominations and won 16th Grammy’s. Every Breath You Take is the second most played song around the world. Name recondition coupled with Shaggy’s iconic status in the reggae/pop world they have a formidable advantage. However, it is never safe to bet against Brand Marley when it comes to the reggae Grammy category. Collectively, Marley’s boys have thirty-three nominations. Stephen, Ziggy, and Damien have won twenty of the categories thirty eight year history. Will Ziggy Marley, an eight-time Grammy winner, “Rebellion Rises” buttressed by the Marley brand dominance be enough to best Sting and Shaggy or will the Marley brand be too much for Shaggy and Sting? In the era of #Metoo women’s movement will Grammy voters decide it’s a woman’s time and give Etana? Will voters, many of who are fed up with the direction reggae dancehall is going, send a message that rewarding Protoje reggae revival efforts to redirecting reggae dancehall? Will the traditionalist reward Black Uhuru as standard bearers and history makers?
After this exhaustive analysis, you wonder where my prediction for the winner. Well despite my 100% record of predicting winners for twelve years as Entertainment Reporter for the “Get Smart Show” on WNYU 89.1 FM. I stopped my Grammy predictions when I signed off in 2004
For the answers to these questions and the winner tune to the 61st Grammy Awards on CBS February 10, 2019.