We are just a few weeks away from the September 30 deadline for eligibility for the 2019 Grammy Awards ‘Reggae Album of the Year’ submission, and already pundits are making predictions as to which albums will make the shortlist. The voting process in all categories actually begins on October 17, two months before the nominees are announced on December 5 for the 61st annual Grammy ceremony, set to take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 10, 2019.
Shaggy & Sting will be hard to beat. The two initially joined forces on the single Don’t Make Me Wait (debuted at #1 on Billboard’s digital reggae singles chart), as a tribute to the Caribbean sounds that influenced them both. They ended up recording an entire album with its title referencing their respective telephone country codes (44 for the UK and 876 for Jamaica).
“It ‘s in the hands of the gods. We’d be happy to be nominated,” Sting told The Gleaner. Shaggy said, “It would be great but I personally always aim for rewards as opposed to the awards.”
As part of the promotion for the single and album, the two did many high-profile appearances, including the 2018 Grammy Awards Ceremony and the NBC Superbowl finals. On September 15, the two will garner even more US publicity with the start of their highly anticipated US tour at the Jackie Gleason Theatre in Miami, Florida.
Backing the album is reggae historian and tour manager Copeland Forbes, who said the album could possibly win the big prize. “They made a huge impact on the international scene, and even performed at the Queen’s 90th birthday celebration,” he noted.
Cristy Barber, who was co-chairman of the Reggae Grammy screening committee for 12 years, noted, “Ziggy is a strong contender for the win this year. I would like to see Sting and Shaggy get nominated, and a possible win … it would be nice to see people like Protoje and Assassin (Agent Sasco) get nominations,” she noted.
With the Grammy Awards, things never go to script. An album that should get nominated and could even pull off an upset victory is Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica with pop superstar Ed Sheeran, his cousin Jethro Sheeran, Chronixx, Damian and Stephen Marley, Wyclef Jean, Safari, Vybz Kartel, Sean Kingston and Sean Paul. Of note is the fact that artistes on the album have won a total of 16 Grammys combined.
The album spent 19 weeks on the Billboard Top 10 Reggae Charts (four weeks at number 1), and received mainstream radio rotation in the United States and on BBC radio in the UK. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, who adds his voice to the project with the singleEase, has every confidence in the effort and confidently states, “this deserves a Grammy!” Sean Kingston describes the album as a “feel good experience” and one which is “spreading good vibes across the world.” Jethro Sheeran told The Gleaner, “The calibre of artistes on the album is mind-blowing. Some of the most prolific in the world today. We are so proud of this album and what it has achieved.”
In the pipeline is a Bob Marley-inspired Rihanna album that could include a reggae single titled Phatty, that was co-authored by incarcerated dancehall artiste Buju Banton. Given the history of the Grammy committee’s soft spot for all things Marley, if RiRi’s album is released before the September 30 deadline, it would be a shoo-in to snag the top prize.
Another album that could be a contender is Rebellion Rises by eight-time Grammy winner Ziggy Marley, who recorded and produced all the songs on the full-length studio album that encourages people to stand together in activism through love.