"Music's biggest night" returns this Sunday, February 10, when the Grammy Awards hit the airwaves live at 8 p.m. on CBS. Though winning a golden gramophone is still the ultimate honor for today's musicians, the award show's significance and popularity have steadily declined in the public consciousness over the past few years — and ratings have tumbled.
To court younger viewers, the Recording Academy is attempting a balancing act that showcases contemporary talent while spotlighting the legacy acts that made the award show a cultural institution. This can make for some awkward onstage pairings, as the joint performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Post Malone is almost guaranteed to be.
If you're not a regular Grammy viewer, that performance probably won't be what motivates you to click to basic cable. Fortunately, this year's ceremony offers the potential for Miami artists to make a strong showing, with nominations for and performances by some of the Magic City's biggest superstars. Here are the top Miami moments to look for at this year's Grammy Awards.
1. Camila Cabello.
"Havana" singer Camila Cabello poses in front of Gramps.
Photo by Stuart Tracte
Former Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello ruled the music charts last year by channeling her experience as a young Cuban exile into the catchy, Latin-tinged pop number "Havana." The ode to lost love, fractured identities,
and Old Havana contrasted starkly with the stomping, four-on-the-floor dance beats that dominate today's radio playlists. But the song resonated with mainstream American listeners who have shown increasing interest in Latin music or songs like "Havana" that use its rhythms. Cabello is nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance for a live version of the song, as well as Best Pop Vocal Album for her debut, Camila
. In addition to those two nods, Cabello will also open the show with guest performers Young Thug, J Balvin, Ricky Martin, and legendary Cuban jazz trumpeter and pianist Arturo Sandoval. By taking Miami's rich and diverse sounds to the Grammy stage, Cabello has earned her place on one of Little Havana's Calle Ocho murals
2. Nominations for songs with videos shot in Miami.
Photo by Jora Frantzis
Though their frequent visits show their love for the Magic City, Miami can't claim Drake or Cardi B. Drake was born in Toronto, and Cardi B is a proud product of the Bronx. But both rappers shot music videos for songs that became massive hits in 2018 and yielded Grammy nominations in major categories. Drake's "God's Plan" and Cardi's "I Like It" were
nominated in the Record of the Year category, among others. "God's Plan" famously featured the rapper distributing money to lucky Miami Senior High students and local charities such as Lotus House. And Cardi's "I Like It" featured a performance with J Balvin and Bad Bunny that was filmed at Ball & Chain. The rapper and sometime political pundit
is one of the most celebrated artists of the night, with five nominations, and she'll also perform at Sunday's ceremony. Given the Grammys' penchant for star-studded, surprise performances, we bet she'll take "I Like It" to the stage.
3. Cécile McLorin Salvant.
Though jazz artists rarely make the Grammy telecast unless they're nominated in a major category, the genre's categories are worth watching for appearances from notable Miami musicians. At just 29 years old, Cécile McLorin Salvant is widely regarded as one of the most gifted voices in contemporary jazz. In 2016, she won a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album after being nominated in the category in 2014. This year, she's nominated in the same category once again, for her 2018 album, The Window.
Jazz musician John Daversa is chair of the Studio Music and Jazz Department at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. But when he's not helping young musicians hone their skills, the trumpet and EVI player records albums that often earn Grammy nods and wide acclaim. His latest album, American Dreamers: Voice of Hope, Music of Freedom
, garnered attention not only for the music but also for its timely political message. Daversa employed the help of musicians who are Dreamers — people who were brought to the United States illegally as children through no fault of their own and now seek legal status. Daversa, with the help of nonprofit organizations nationwide, found 53 Dreamers who participated in the recording of the album, which is nominated in three categories.
Photo by Jack McKain
The Grammys tend to be late to the party when it comes to acknowledging burgeoning talent. The Recording Academy's struggle to keep its finger on the pulse of pop culture is best exemplified by this year's Best New Artist category, which includes musicians such as Margo Price, who is two albums in and has been Nashville's darling for some time. Typically, an artist like XXXTentacion would have been en route to similar recognition in the next couple of years. But the troubled rapper's life was cut short last June when he was killed in a suspected botched robbery
. Though the rapper's second album, ?
, was released during the eligibility period and featured the Billboard
-topping single "Sad!," XXXTentacion was not nominated for a posthumous Grammy. But he still might get a moment of recognition this Sunday if he's featured in the telecast's In Memoriam
segment. Because of the allegations of harrowing domestic abuse against X
, it remains to be seen whether the Recording Academy will want to include him.