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R&B Grammy Noms: BJ the Chicago Kid Leads & Solange Receives First with "Cranes In the Sky"

By Wanda J Coppage wanda.coppage@musictimes.com | Dec 06, 2016 10:31 PM EST

The 2017 nominees for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards have been announced and the R&B genre has a strong representation with the likes of BJ the Chicago Kid who leads with three nominations; Lalah Hathaway, nominated for two and Solange received her very first nomination for "Cranes In the Sky."

Among the nominees are some recurring names like Beyonce, Rihanna and Hathaway. But, this year also introduced some new names and fresh faces to the R&B categories like BJ the Chicago Kid.

The Chicago native more commonly known as BJ, the initials of his first and middle names Bryan James (Sledge,) received a low-key introduction to the music industry as a writer for various artists and also as a featured artist on projects like, Kanye West's "Impossible" and Jill Scott's "Beautiful Love," off her Woman album.

The height of his recognition came with his 2016 Motown released sophomore album, In My Mind, which featured the singles "Turnin' Me Up" and "Woman's World." Both singles and the album itself landed the 32-year-old three nominations for Best R&B Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Album.

Nominated alongside the Chicago kid in two of aforementioned categories is Hathaway, whose song "Angel" and album Lalah Hathaway Live, garnered her a nod for Best R&B Traditional Performance and Best R&B Album.

Hathaway is no stranger to the Grammys, taking home a win in 2013 for Best R&B Performance and Best Traditional R&B Performance in 2014 with Robert Glasper for the single, "Jesus Children." Last year she took home the Best Traditional R&B Performance win again for "Little Ghetto Boy."

Joining BJ and Hathaway in the Best Traditional category, are William Bell ("The Three Of Me";) Fantasia ("Sleeping With the One I Love") and Scott ("Can't Wait.") In the best album category the pair are joined by Terrace Martin (Velvet Portraits,) Mint Condition (Healing Season) and Mya for her 2016 album Smoove Jones, released independently.

Mya's first Grammy nomination and win came in 2002 for her vocal performance on the song "Lady Marmalade" with Pink, Lil' Kim and Christina Aguilera.

Several other artists will experience are first times nominees.

Joining BJ and Bell as newbies this year are Ro James and Partynextdoor who are nominated in two separate categories -- Best R&B Song and R&B Performance. Ro James shares the category with BJ, Musiq Soulchild, Rihanna and Solange Knowles.

Though baby sister Knowles has attended many Grammy ceremonies in the past, acknowledging the works of her big sister Beyonce, and offering her talent as a writer to some of her projects, it's with this upcoming awards that the Grammy is all about her and her 2016 number one album A Seat at the Table.

The album's lead and nominated single "Cranes in the Sky," was written by Knowles and Raphael Saadiq.

Also nominated for first time Grammys, and fresh off the heels of the 2016 Soul Train Awards, Anderson .Paak will again share the Best New Artist category with Chance the Rapper.

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