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Grammy Awards Preview: Folk

The 47th annual Grammy Awards will be handed out February 13 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. In this report, VOA's Katherine Cole previews the five nominees for Contemporary Folk Album of the Year.

Our first nominee was vying for this same award two years ago, and lost. Perhaps Steve Earle will have better luck when the Grammy's are handed out in Los Angeles on February 13. The Revolution Starts Now finds Steve Earle once again singing politically-fueled songs. And as folk songs in their earliest form were nothing more than recitations of the news of the day, the songs on The Revolution Starts Now fit the bill perfectly.

An anthem of hope and change is one way to describe Steve Earle's title track to The Revolution Starts Now, one of the five CDs nominated for the Best Contemporary Folk Album Grammy.

Who else is up for this award? Ani DeFranco, Eliza Gilkyson, a tribute album to the Carter Family, and Patty Griffin. Patty, based in Austin, Texas, is a wonderful live performer with writing skills to match. Like Steve Earle, Patty Griffin's last album, 1000 Kisses, was also nominated for this honor. Her 2005 nominee is called Impossible Dream, and Patty says this album is about her "personal dreams and confusions." But she's such a good songwriter, that most listeners will find it very easy to relate to the emotions in "Florida" and the 10 other original songs she's written for Impossible Dream.

Also nominated this year is a tribute album to the Carter Family, the "first family of American country music." It was produced by John Carter Cash, son of the late Johnny Cash and June Carter, and features performances by artists including Willie Nelson, George Jones, Sheryl Crow and John Prine. Marty Stuart is also on hand, singing a fine version of "Never Let the Devil Get the Upper Hand of You."

Ani DeFranco's Educated Guess CD has been nominated for two Grammys, one for packaging, the other for Best Contemporary Folk Album. These nominations are the sixth and seventh for the folksinger, who took home the Best Recording Package honor last year for her Evolve album. According to her website, Ani wrote, sang, played, recorded, engineered, and mixed every song on Educated Guess.

The fifth and final nominee for Best Contemporary Folk Album is by third generation songwriter Eliza Gilkyson. Her Land of Milk and Honey CD is a serious one, with songs about the post 9/11 world. It closes with "Peace Call," a long lost song written by Woody Guthrie, but never recorded until now. On the song, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Iris Dement, and fellow Grammy nominee Patty Griffin join Eliza.

We'll find out if the voters find Land of Milk and Honey worthy of the Contemporary Folk Album statue when the 47th Grammy Awards are handed out on February 13.