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Grammy Nominees: 'Roots Music' - 2002-02-22

The 44th annual Grammy Awards will take place February 27 in Los Angeles, California. To be nominated, records had to be released between October 1, 2000 and September 30, 2001. The nominees for "Contemporary Folk Album of the Year" include one newcomer, one tribute, and one resurgent veteran.

The past few years have been an up and down time for Gillian Welch. The collapse of her record label was balanced by the surprise success of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Welch served as associate producer on that project.

This year, Gillian is nominated for three Grammy awards, including best "Contemporary Folk Album" for her third CD Time (The Revelator).

Also nominated for the Contemporary Folk Grammy is Poet: A Tribute To Townes Van Zandt. While Townes did not enjoy many commercial hits, his influence on other songwriters, such as Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle was profound. Poet features performances of Townes' songs by those artists and other friends, including John Prine singing Loretta.

It's not exactly right to call Buddy and Julie Miller's self-titled Grammy-nominated CD their first project. Nor is it totally wrong. The husband and wife team has been singing together for 20 years. They also appeared on each other's five critically acclaimed solo albums released in the 1990s. But it wasn't until 2001 that the duo released a project with both their names in the title.

Buddy and Julie Miller's first Grammy nomination comes for an album of songs that includes Richard Thompson's Keep Your Distance, a song that cuts right to the core of wedded bliss, complete with happiness and heartache intact.

For almost 30 years, Lucinda Williams has been writing and singing her unique brand of music; a mixture of folk, rock and country that is nearly impossible to categorize. That could explain how Lucinda was nominated in four different Grammy categories this year, including "Best Contemporary Folk Album" for her CD Essence.

In any other year, the combination of Lu's 1998 CD, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road winning that honor, and being named "America's Best Songwriter" by Time magazine would make her the logical choice to take home this year's trophy. This time around, however, she'll have to beat Bob Dylan, whose Love and Theft has been hailed as a late-career masterpiece.

Love And Theft is Bob Dylan's 43rd release. The singer-songwriter has received much critical acclaim for this release, including a "five out of five stars" review from Rolling Stone. The magazine called the album "a stone-cold classic."

Dylan and his road band play jump blues, slow blues, rockabilly, pop ballads, country swing and folk songs with wit, agility and power.

The nominees for "Best Contemporary Folk Album" Grammy, offer evidence that the voices of uncompromising folk singers are not always the most beautiful, but they're certainly memorable.