Guitar master Cory Wong, children’s-music mainstays the Okee Dokee Brothers and the Minneapolitan-fronted indie-rock band Big Thief were among the Minnesota artists on the list of nominees announced Tuesday for Grammy Awards in 2021.
A McNally Smith College of Music graduate who cut his teeth playing with Sonny Knight & the Lakers and Dr. Mambo’s Combo, Wong is nominated for best new age album with “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” bandleader Jon Batiste for their instrumental collaboration “Meditations.”
The Shoreview resident has regularly appeared on Colbert’s show via his friendship with Batiste. “Meditations” was just one of several albums Wong put out over the past year.
The Okee Dokees earned their fifth nomination for best children’s album for their double-LP effort “Songs for Singin’,” featuring singalong tunes inspired by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Joe Mailander and his partner Justin Lansing released the album ahead of schedule in April to help families “stuck at home.” The duo won a Grammy in the same category in 2013 with their outdoors-y album “Can You Canoe?”
Fronted by Minnesota-raised, part-time Minneapolis resident Adrianne Lenker, Big Thief landed in both the rock performance and rock song categories alongside Fiona Apple, Haim and Brittany Howard with their tense single “Not.” Big Thief was also nominated last year for best alternative music album.
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame — who regularly mingles with the Twin Cities music scene from his base in Eau Claire, Wis. — also earned another nomination this year for his guest appearance on Taylor Swift’s song “Exile,” which is up for best pop duo/group performance. Vernon’s Bon Iver famously won the best new artist Grammy trophy in 2012.
In the classical music categories, Brooklyn Rider — a New York-based string quartet whose members have Minnesota roots — showed up in the best chamber music/small ensemble performance category with the album “Healing Modes.”
Jazz composer and bandleader Maria Schneider, who grew up in Windom, Minn., got two more nominations for “Data Lords,” a bold double-album taking on the high-tech world. It’s up for best large jazz ensemble album and best instrumental composition (for the tune “Sputnik”). Schneider already has five Grammys to her name.
Two more Minnesotans active behind the scenes were among the nominees: Twin Cities native Tom Overby is up for best American roots song for co-writing “Man Without a Soul” with his multi-Grammy-winning wife Lucinda Williams. Also, native Minnesotan Bernie Grundman, who runs a renowned recording mastering studio in Hollywood, got his umpteenth nom in the best historical album category for Prince’s “1999: Super Deluxe.”
Another loose Minnesota connection: Memphis-based music journalist Bob Mehr was nominated for best album notes for his work on the Replacements’ box set “Dead Man’s Pop.” Mehr wrote the 2016 biography on the Minneapolis rock anti-heroes, “Trouble Boys.”
All the nominees will find out if they are winners on Jan. 31, when the 63rd annual Grammy Award ceremony will be held at Staples Center in Los Angeles under COVID-19 safety restrictions.