It’s now official! The Grammy nominees were announced December 9 at Gotham Hall in New York City, and glancing at the competitors, the only thing we can say is that ‘the running is tough!’

In the Best Reggae Album (vocal or instrumental) category, the contenders are Burning Spear, ‘Our Music’; Damian Marley, ‘Welcome To Jamrock’; Sean Paul, ‘The Trinity’; Shaggy, ‘Clothes Drop’ and Third World with their album ‘Black, Green & Gold’.

It’s anyone’s guess as to the artiste who will cop this coveted award on Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles when the 48th staging of the event is held.

Damian Marley’s album has been very much in the spotlight on the local and international scenes through the main carrier ­ the title track ‘Welcome to Jamrock’. What makes the album even more exciting is that there are a lot of collaborations with international acts giving it a‘something-for-everyone flavor. In 2002 Damian Marley walked away with the Grammy for his still talked about album ‘Halfway Tree.’

Will it be number two come February 2006? In commenting on his feelings about the nomination, Damian said, “It feels good. It is a step toward reggae music getting noticed outside all genres and that is what I am working towards.”

Sean Paul seems to be making the rounds in the US on BET’s 106 & Park with his music videos and of course other nighttime shows. It is safe to say that he has effectively crossed over. The top tracks on ‘The Trinity’ album are ‘We Be Burning’ and ‘Ever Blazing’. If he wins that would make it number two for Sean Paul as last year (2004) he scored with ‘Dutty Rock’.

Speaking with Sean Paul on his feelings regarding the album’s chances when pitted against the other nominees, his response was, “Yow, I feel honoured to be nominated for the second time and humbled to be in a category with such talented and great artistes and I wish everyone good luck.”

Shaggy is no stranger to winning a Grammy as he did it in 1996 with ‘Boombastic’. It is left to be seen how he stands up in this very challenging category.

In 2000 Burning Spear scored with ‘Calling Rastafari’. It is left to be seen how he will face in this cast of contenders.

Third World is the only nominee in the group that has never copped a Grammy award. Will 2006 be the year all this changes?

Only time will tell. One thing is for certain, on Wednesday, February 8 all eyes will be glued to the tube waiting to see the artiste that emerges on top.

Topping the Grammy nominations in other categories were: Mariah Carey, John Legend and Kanye West who each earned 8 nominations; 50 Cent, Beyoncé Knowles, The Black Eyed Peas’, and Stevie Wonder garnered six a piece; Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys, Bruce Springsteen, Gwen Stefani and U2 received five nods each; while Common, Destiny’s Child, Foo Fighters, Gorillaz, Neptunes, Brad Paisley, Phil Tan, and Gretchen Wilson each earned four.


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