Our 2009 Grammy Picks

ESSENCE.com chooses who should walk away winners at the 2009 Grammy Awards, the biggest night in music CAPTIONS BY Cori Murray
ESSENCE.COM Feb, 04, 2009

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The nominees:
“American Boy” (Estelle featuring Kanye West)
“Chasing Pavements” (Adele)
“I’m Yours” (Jason Mraz)
“Love Song” (Sara Bareilles)
“Viva La Vida” (Coldplay)

ESSENCE.com Pick: “American Boy,” written by William Adams, Keith Harris, Josh Lopez, Caleb Speir, John Stephens, Estelle Swaray & Kanye West

“Having been recognized speaks volumes of how my music has been embraced around the world,” Estelle tells ESSENCE.com. “‘American Boy’ is a record that makes everyone feel good, and it is a great honor to be recognized by the Recording Academy.”

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The nominees:
Beyoncé’s “Me, Myself And I”
Keyshia Cole’s “Heaven Sent”
Jennifer Hudson’s “Spotlight”
Alicia Keys’s “Superwoman”
Jazmine Sullivan’s “Need U Bad”

ESSENCE.com Pick: Jennifer Hudson’s “Spotlight”

A hard call considering this category is stacked with R&B divas, not to mention a Best New Artist nominee (Jazmine Sullivan), but it’s Hudson’s powerhouse vocals that makes “Spotlight” shine.

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The nominees:
Eric Benét’s “You’re the Only One”
Chris Brown’s “Take You Down”
Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent”
Trey Songz’s “Can’t Help But Wait”
Usher’s “Here I Stand”

ESSENCE.com pick: Chris Brown’s “Take You Down”

Perhaps Chris Brown meant for his sexually suggestive ballad “Take You Down” to send an urgent message that he’s all grown up. Or perhaps he wanted to salute those throwback slow jams that made you sway even without a partner. Whatever the reason, we’re still swooning.

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The nominees:
“Bust Your Windows” (Jazmine Sullivan)
“Customer” (Raheem DeVaughn)
“Heaven Sent” (Keyshia Cole)
“Miss Independent” (Ne-Yo)
“Spotlight” (Jennifer Hudson)

ESSENCE.com Pick: Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent,” written Mikkel S. Eriksen, T.E. Hermansen & Shaffer Smith

Ne-Yo and his writing team know the best way to a woman’s heart—flattery. What single girl didn’t walk a little straighter, hold her head a little higher and smile a little softer when she heard the lyrics “’cause she work like a boss/play like a boss/car and a crib/she ‘bout to pay ‘em both off/and her bills are paid on time”?

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The nominees:
“Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends” by Coldplay
“Tha Carter III” by Lil Wayne
“Year of the Gentleman” by Ne-Yo
“Raising Sand” by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
“In Rainbows” by Radiohead

ESSENCE.com Pick: Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III”

With the highest-grossing hip-hop album of the year, Lil Wayne let the world know hip-hop is not dead. Instead, he gave the people what they wanted: a thumping club banger (“A Milli”), a thoughtful tribute to New Orleans (“Tie My Hands”), and a duet with Jay-Z (“Mr. Carter”) that became an instant rapper’s delight.

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The nominees:
Adele
Duffy
Jonas Brothers
Lady Antebellum
Jazmine Sullivan

ESSENCE.com Pick: Jazmine Sullivan

“I feel very honored to be nominated in five different categories and amongst such a wide range of talented performers,” Sullivan told ESSENCE.com. “Of course, I would love to win in all the categories that I’m nominated in but I have no expectations because all of the fellow nominees bring something different to the table.”

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The nominees:
Kanye West’s “Say Goodbye to Love”
Maiysha’s “Wanna Be”
Chrisette Michele’s “Be OK” (featuring will.i.am)
Janelle Monáe’s “Many Moons”
Wayna’s “Lovin You (Music)” (featuring Kokayi)

ESSENCE.com pick: Janelle Monáe’s “Many Moons”

“I am deeply humbled that ‘Many Moons’ has been nominated for a Grammy,” Monáe tells ESSENCE.com. “Whether I win or lose, I consider the wonderful fact that I was nominated a blessing—and certifiable evidence that even androids can be recognized if they work hard and dare to dream.”

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The nominees:
“Down in New Orleans” by The Blind Boys Of Alabama
“I’ll Say Yes” by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
“Take It Back” by Dorinda Clark-Cole
“Deitrick Haddon Presents . . . Together In Worship” by Voices Of Unity
“Bishop Charles E. Blake Presents… No Limit” by The West Angeles COGIC Mass Choir

ESSENCE.com Pick: “Take It Back” by Dorinda Clark-Cole

“It is always an honor and a privilege to be named among the greatest people in the music industry," Clark-Cole tells ESSENCE.com. "I am praying my outcome is positive but the excitement of just being nominated is great.”

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The nominees:
Wayne Brady’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”
Al Green’s “You’ve Got the Love I Need” (featuring Anthony Hamilton)
Linda Jones “Baby I Know” (with Helen Bruner & Terry Jones)
Raphael Saadiq’s “Love That Girl”
Jazmine Sullivan’s “In Love With Another Man”

ESSENCE.com pick: Al Green’s “You’ve Got the Love I Need” (featuring Anthony Hamilton)

“I feel very gracious that they (Grammy/Academy voters) voted for me. We’re going to the awards ceremony feeling good about being nominated,” Green tells ESSENCE.com. “I’m kind of humble about whether we’re going to win or not; it could go either way.”

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The nominees:
“Cover Me” (21:03 With Fred Hammond, Smokie Norful & J Moss)
“Get Up” (Mary Mary)
“Give Me Your Eyes” (Brandon Heath)
“Help Me Believe” (Kirk Franklin)
“You Reign” (MercyMe)

ESSENCE.com Pick: “Get Up,” written by Erica Campbell, Tina Campbell, Warryn Campbell & Eric Dawkins

For those days when it’s hard to see the sun from the clouds, Mary Mary’s “Get Up” song’s fear-no-more message: “What are you afraid of? Don’t you know what you’re made of? One of God’s greatest creations/take this invitation now/Get Up!” transcends religion and serves as a powerful, faith-filled reminder that all’s not lost.

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The nominees:
Boyz II Men’s “Ribbon in the Sky”
Anthony David’s “Words” (featuring India.Arie)
Al Green’s “Stay With Me (By the Sea)”
Jennifer Hudson’s “I’m His Only Woman” (featuring Fantasia)
Raphael Saadiq’s “Never Give You Up” (featuring Stevie Wonder & CJ Hilton)

ESSENCE.com Pick: Anthony David’s “Words” (featuring India.Arie)

“I’m thankful for the nomination, and hopeful that I win. I’m in with some pretty big names, so I’m taking that as a victory in itself,” David tells ESSENCE.com.

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The nominees:
“Reflections” by Jason Champion
“The Fight of My Life” by Kirk Franklin
“The Sound” by Mary Mary
“Donald Lawrence Introduces: Family Prayer” by The Murrills
“Stand Out” by Tye Tribbett & G.A.

ESSENCE.com pick: “The Sound” by Mary Mary

Listening to this album you might forget its gospel, with its deep fried southern swagger and Motown-inspired pop on songs such as “God in Me” and the title track (respectively). Give it to this duo for knowing how to feed your soul while lifting your spirit and feet.

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The nominees:
Wayne Brady’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”
Al Green’s “You’ve Got the Love I Need” (featuring Anthony Hamilton)
Linda Jones “Baby I Know” (with Helen Bruner & Terry Jones)
Raphael Saadiq’s “Love That Girl”
Jazmine Sullivan’s “In Love With Another Man”

ESSENCE.com pick: Al Green’s “You’ve Got the Love I Need” (featuring Anthony Hamilton)

“This is the seventh nomination and by far my most prized one!” Hamilton tells ESSENCE.com. “Not only am I nominated but joined at the vocal hip of Mr. Al Green. I couldn’t have had a better set up. I’m now officially SOUL’D.”

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The nominees:
Randy Jackson’s “I Understand” (featuring Kim Burrell, Rance Allen, Bebe Winans & Mariah Carey)
Casting Crowns’s “East To West”
Mary Mary’s “Get Up”
Take 6’s “Shall We Gather At The River”
CeCe Winans’s “Waging War”

ESSENCE.com Pick: Mary Mary’s “Get Up”

Mary Mary shares their excitement with ESSENCE.com: “Three Grammy nods….Oh My God!!! It’s so gratifying when people get online or go out and buy our CD’s, then tell us how it’s blessed them or affected their life for the good. It’s the icing on the cake when you get recognized by the recording academy.”

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The nominees:
“Growing Pains” by Mary J. Blige
“Back Of My Lac’” by J. Holiday
“First Love” by Karina
“Year of the Gentleman” by Ne-Yo
“Fearless” by Jazmine Sullivan

ESSENCE.com Pick: “Year of the Gentleman” by Ne-Yo

When Ne-Yo sang “I just can’t stop” on his lead single, “Closer,” we believed him. After writing hits for R&B’s finest, including Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson and Mary J. Blige, he saved the best for his third album.

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