Jews in the News: Drake, Bob Dylan and Herb Alpert

The Tribe at the Grammys, 2017

The Grammys, for excellence in music, are an odds awards ceremony.  Last year, only ten of the more than 100 Grammy awards were presented on TV. However, virtually all Grammy winners are made known during the telecast via a brief announcement or through a scrolled list of winners on the screen. Most of the Grammys are given at the “Premiere Ceremony,” which is live-streamed, starting at 3:30PM on Feb. 12, at It can be viewed for months after the live stream.

The main ceremony, hosted by James Corden, is on CBS on Sunday, Feb. 12, starting at 8PM. The stage performers will include Adele and rocker ADAM LEVINE. The first part of this article lists Jewish nominees (in caps) nominated for a Grammy likely to be presented on TV.  The second part notes Jewish nominees in “non-main ceremony” categories.

The Big “Main Event” Nominees

DRAKE (AKA Aubrey Drake Graham), 30, is nominated for 8 awards this year, second only to Beyoncé’s 9. Appropriately, one of the nominations is for “Work,” a “Record of the Year” nominee featuring Beyoncé and Drake. His other nominations include: “Album of the Year” (“Views”); Best Rap Performance (“Pop Style”); Best Rap/Sung Performance (“Hotline Bling”): Best Rap Song (“Hotline…”); Best Rap Album (“Views”); and Best R&B Song (“Come and See Me”). Surprisingly, Drake has only won one Grammy to date. He’s been nominated 27 times (excluding this year’s nine).

Competing for “Record of the Year” is “Hello,” by Adele. It was co-written and produced by (co-nominee) GREG KURSTIN, 47. Kurstin’s up for three more Grammys: “Song of the Year” (“Hello”); Album of the Year (producing Adele’s “25”); and—a biggie—Producer of the Year (non-classical).

MIKE POSNER, 28, a relative newcomer, is also nominated for Song of the Year (for "I Took a Pill in Ibiza”). Posner, who’s secular, has a Jewish father and a Catholic mother.

Also up for Song of the Year is “Love Yourself”. Sung by Justin Bieber, it was co-written by Bieber, BENJAMIN LEVIN, 28, and Ed Sheeran. Levin chose to use his real name for this songwriting credit, but he’s better known as Benny Blanco and under that name he has won a raft of awards. He’s produced and written songs for huge acts like Sheeran, Rihanna, and Maroon 5. This year, he’s up for four Grammys, including Producer of the Year (non-classical) and for producing “Purpose,” a Bieber album up for Album of the Year.

BOB DYLAN, 75, is up for “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album” (“Fallen Angels”). He competes with BARBRA STREISAND, 74 (“Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway”). They both vie with Willie Nelson, who’s nominated for singing the songs of GEORGE GERSHWIN.

PINK, 37, whose mother is Jewish, is nominated for “Best Country Duo Performance” (“Setting the World on Fire,” with Kenny Chesney). 

Nominated for “Best Rock Performance” is a new version of “The Sound of Silence,” the PAUL SIMON classic. It was performed by heavy metal band “Disturbed,” and featured its lead vocalist, DAVID DRAIMAN, 43. While no longer practicing, Draiman grew-up very Orthodox. His brother, a folk rock musician, lives in Israel, as does his grandmother.

Grammy Nominees/Categories Not on the TV Ceremony

The current revival of “Fiddler on the Roof” is nominated for Best Musical Theater album.

JOSHUA REDMAN, 47, the son of an African-American father and Jewish mother, and a summa cum laude Harvard grad, is nominated for “Best Jazz Instrumental Album” (“Nearness”). Redman is a great sax player, as is BOB MINTZER, 63. Mintzer’s album (“All L.A. Band”; he led the band) is a nominee in the “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” category. Mintzer, a native New Yorker, is now a Univ. of Southern California music professor.

MICHAEL SPIRO, 60ish, who isn’t Latino, but does have a degree in Latin American studies and is known as a conga virtuoso, is nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album (“Canto America”). Over in folk, there’s ARI HEST, 37, whose album (“Silver Skies Blue”) of duets with Judy Collins is up for Best Folk Album. Hest’s father is a music professor and his mother is a synagogue cantor.

The last musician is the legendary HERB ALPERT, who is still touring at 81. He’s nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album (“Human Nature”). Over in the “Best Spoken Word Album” category, there’s AMY SCHUMER, 35. She’s nominated for the CD of her memoir, “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo." Schumer’s also up for Best Comedy Album (“Live at the Apollo”), and vies for that honor with DAVID CROSS, 52 (“America..Great…”).


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