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GRAMMY CHEW: WHO COULD BE THIS YEAR’S BRANDI CARLILE?

A question we’re frequently hearing from all corners of the biz: Who will be the Brandi Carlile of this year’s Grammys, assuming there is one? We’re talking about a wild card—an unexpected (but deserving) recipient of multiple noms whose career gets supercharged by all that love and hardware. (The potential for a showstopping performance on the telecast doesn’t hurt either.)

We’ve come up with a few possible left-field candidates—some of them newcomers and some more established—who might earn a place among the top-tier nominees. We welcome your suggestions as well.

Maggie Rogers: The Capitol singer/songwriter, who won Pharrell Williams’ imprimatur while attending a masterclass at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute, earned strong reviews and buzz for her ambitious full-length Heard It in a Past Life, and her song “Light On” continues to resonate. If enough Grammy voters tune into her wavelength, she could be dangerous in all four top categories.

Rosalía: Swooping in from Spain with a totally fresh fusion of pop, dance and Flamenco, this blazing newcomer (on Columbia) looks like a top contender for BNA; her album El Mal Querer, meanwhile, is ambitious and absorbing. Could one of its tracks (or one of her more recent, pop-skewing singles like her duets with J Balvin and Ozuna) make the ROTY/SOTY cut as well?

Gary Clark, Jr.: A hot guitarist and versatile singer/songwriter with a flair for multiple styles—and an Academy favorite—the Warner Records artist scored a Traditional R&B Performance Grammy in 2014, the same year he got a Rock Song nom. His album This Land is a career milestone, and its title track has a political punch that’s not so very far from Childish Gambino’s ROTY/SOTY winner, “This Is America.”

Tyler Childers: Exploring country and other roots genres from well outside the country mainstream—and produced by kindred spirit Sturgill Simpson, another “Americana” champ beloved by Grammy—RCA’s Kentucky troubadour paints evocative, soulful pictures on sophomore set Country Squire. Could he be a dark horse for BNA, Album and maybe more?

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