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by virvrant thang on dc grammy noms


This is cross-posted over on my Urban Thought Collective column. Thought I would share it here too, particularly for links to the podcasts at the bottom.


Are you ready for the Grammy Awards this coming Sunday? Are some of your favorite artists and songs nominated?

We are particularly excited here in DC as there are a couple of underrated local artists among the nominees and I’m shining the spotlight on them this week.

Wayna is an Ethiopian-born singer/songwriter artist who released her first album, Moments of Clarity, in 2004. She has opened for artists like Common, Fantasia, Amerie, Bobby Valentino, Jaguar Wright, Kindred, and Chuck Brown. Wayna honed her sweet soulful sound by studying the music of the greats like Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Minnie Riperton. It was a cover of Riperton’s “Lovin You” on her sophomore release, Higher Ground, which has garnered a Grammy Nomination for Best Alternative/Urban Performance.

Check out Wayna’s performance of “Lovin You” at a show here in DC last year.

Another of my favorite songs from Higher Ground is “Close 2 U” Check out the performance at the same show.


On the album version of “Lovin You,” Wayna is joined by fellow DC hip hop artist, Kokayi who also produced the track. Kokayi has been grinding in the business professionally since 1994 and has performed with and produced for numerous artists. He has also toured extensively around the globe, as far away as the Middle East. He is truly a multi-talented emcee who plays piano and drums, freestyles, sings, writes poetry, and creates visual art.

Although I have lived in the DC area for eleven years, I only had the opportunity to see him perform live for the first time last year when he opened for KRS-One. Koyaki is one of the true emcees that make me remember the days I used to love h.e.r.

Check out Kokayi performing a couple of tracks from his lastest album, Mass Instructions.

The Lick

DCB (DC Baby)

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the third artist from DC who is nominated in the Best R&B Song category for “Customer” off of his sophomore album, Love Behind the Melody. Raheem Devaughn has some stiff competition from artists like Jazmine Sullivan, Neyo, Keyshia Cole, and Jennifer Hudson. We’re pulling hard for our native son.

This doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the talent we are fortunate to have right here in DC. I’ll be spotlighting more of these artists here in future columns. Meantime, please support current and future projects by Wayna, Kokayi and Raheem Devaughn. If they should come to your area, be sure to see them live.

I also have to mention that there are many other underrated male and female artists nominated in various categories. I have been checking hard for Janelle Monae, Maiysha, Anthony David, and Sam Sparro and I’m glad to see they got some recognition. View the complete list of nominations here and watch for those categories on Sunday. Whether they win or not, you will certainly be hearing more about them here.

I appreciate the support you’ve shown the music thus far so I wanted to share a treat. Some of my favorite podcasters were asked to put together mixes featuring Grammy nominated artists in various genres. Visit each of their sites and download the free mixes. While you’re there, check out some of their previous mixes which you can also download for free. It’s one of the primary ways I discover new artists.

Friday Favecast: Soul Grammy Podcast

Macedonia’s Radio BSOTS: Grammys on Shuffle (electronic world mixes)

Flowink: Hip Hop Grammy Podcast

Fresh’s Sunday Soundtrack: Jazz Grammy Nominees

Be sure to tune into the Grammys Sunday at 8pm EST/PST on CBS.

photo credits: diana stephen