Each year when the Grammy nominations are announced, North Carolina artists are usually on the list. This year, Charlotte’s own Fantasia Barrino and Anthony Hamilton – both previous winners – are up for multiple awards.
Friends as well as soul singers, the pair will compete against one another for Best R&B Song. She is nominated for “Without You.” He’s up for “Best of Me.” The latter track is also up for Best R&B Performance.
Fantasia’s single “Get It Right” is competing in the Traditional R&B Performance category, with her 2013 album “Side Effects of You” up for the Best Urban Contemporary Album trophy.
We talked to both nominees earlier this month – Hamilton from near his south Charlotte home and Fantasia from New York, where she’s performing in “After Midnight” on Broadway.
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Q. This is the second round of Grammy nominations for your 2012 album “Back To Love.” It’s not common for an album to have that kind of life, is it?
A. I’m shocked. It’s really rare. The only people that can do that are probably like Beyonce and Chris Brown. Even then it’s rare.
Q. What’s it mean to have this song singled out?
A. These two (nominations) are special because I had no earthly idea this song was going to move people. It’s a beautiful, relaxing, sweet song – for something like that to compete with what’s on radio?
Q. What’s the inspiration behind it?
A. How simple beautiful can be. Everything is sex, sex, sex. I wanted to talk about beauty and simplicity.
Q. After multiple nominations, do you get used to it?
A. No way. This is like the Super Bowl. Any year you go to the Super Bowl it feels good. It’s a reassuring point in your career that you’re on the right path.
Q. What’s it like being up against Fantasia?
A. I’m happy for her. To have been through what she’s been through and still come out and slam people with great music, holding her head up – whether she wins or I win, it’s going to be North Carolina. If she wins I’ll go to her house and touch it. If I win she can come over and touch it.
Q. What was it like winning the first time?
A. They had me over at the pre-telecast room, but doing press. When they made the announcement I was in the press room.
Q. So you didn’t get to accept the award?
A. I was a little pissed. I soon got over it when I was holding my Grammy. I want to be there when they call my name. I want to do my “Oh my God!”
Q. Is your wardrobe ready?
A. I’m on it. I’m going to run with the big boys. The Kanyes and Waynes.
Q. Other than your categories, who do you want to see win?
A. Bruno Mars. I love what he’s doing – beautiful and free and full of life.
Q. Did you go to his concert here?
A. I did. I just checked out Jay Z. Before that, Drake.
Q. What’s next?
A. Music that’s not so heavy. I don’t want to sing about heartbreak and heartache. I’m not really there. I’m working with Ed D. Kane. He’s a hip-hop artist from Asheville. He’s the first artist signed to my label. We went to barber school together. And Jaron Strom, a young white guy who plays guitar and sings. These are people I’m very excited about.
Q. How do you feel about this year’s nominations?
A. I’m almost nervous. It’s good to be nominated. That makes you feel good, but at the same time I would really like to take one home. I didn’t go the year I won (in 2010). I decided I didn’t want to be upset and go another year and not get it.
Q. Do you know what you’re wearing?
A. I have several options. There’s a young lady out of Charlotte (T Shanell by Akila). Her eye is amazing. I’m working in New York with Isabel Toledo. I also have her working on a dress, and two young guys out of L.A.
Q. If you could only win one of the three, which would you choose?
A. I would probably say Best Urban Contemporary Album. I put so much of my life into this album. It was one of those albums a lot of people didn’t believe in. I just poured all my feelings and everything I went through into it. My blood, sweat and tears went into this album.
Q. Does being nominated year after year make it any less magical?
A. I don’t ever want to get like that. When I do, I’m surprised and overwhelmed. They didn’t look over the great music and hard work. The time I didn’t go that year I won, for me in my head I was thinking, “It’s just another nomination.” Being that young lady from North Carolina, that Southern girl, very human and honest. I didn’t get as much respect (not) being from L.A. or New York or Atlanta. I always had to fight my way through the door. When I won, I felt so crazy.
Q. What’s it like being up against Anthony?
A. That’s pretty tough competition. He’s like family. We’ve done several shows together. When I’m on stage he’s watching and when he’s on stage, I’m watching. He has a sound that’ll be around forever. He reminds you of Al Green and Marvin Gaye and James Brown – a true soulful musician. I love that about him. If it’s not me, I pray that it’s him representing North Carolina and true soul music.
Q. What’s next?
A. I’m here until Feb. 9. I’m going to be working on another album. I would like to do a big movie role. Something totally different. I want to do a different style of music. I like to challenge myself. If anything was to happen to me, I want people to say she was talented and did everything.