Are you ready for the Grammy Awards this coming Sunday? Are some of your favorite artists and songs nominated?

We are particularly excited here in D.C. as there are a couple of underrated local artists among the nominees. I’m shining the spotlight on them this week.

Wayna is an Ethiopian-born singer/songwriter artist who released her first album, “Moments of Clarity,” in 2004. She has opened for artists like Common, Fantasia, Amerie, Bobby Valentino, Jaguar Wright, Kindred, and Chuck Brown. Wayna honed her sweet soulful sound by studying the music of the greats like Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Minnie Riperton. It was a cover of Riperton’s “Lovin You” on her sophomore release, Higher Ground, which has garnered a Grammy Nomination for Best Alternative/Urban Performance.

Check out Wayna’s performance of “Lovin You” at a show here in DC last year.

Another of my favorite songs from “Higher Ground” is “Close 2 U” Check out the performance at the same show.

On the album version of “Lovin You,” Wayna is joined by fellow D.C. hip hop artist, Kokayi who also produced the track. Kokayi has been grinding in the business professionally since 1994 and has performed with and produced for numerous artists. He has also toured extensively around the globe, as far away as the Middle East. He is truly a multi-talented emcee who plays piano and drums, freestyles, sings, writes poetry, and creates visual art.

Although I have lived in the D.C. area for eleven years, I only had the opportunity to see him perform live for the first time last year when he opened for KRS-One. Koyaki is one of the true emcees that make me remember the days I Used to Love H.E.R..

Check out Kokayi performing a couple of tracks from his lastest album, Mass Instructions.

“The Lick”

“DCB” (DC Baby)

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the third artist from D.C. who is nominated in the Best R&B Song category for “Customer” off of his sophomore album, “Love Behind the Melody.” Raheem Devaughn has some stiff competition from artists like Jazmine Sullivan, Neyo, Keyshia Cole, and Jennifer Hudson. We’re pulling hard for our native son.

This doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the talent we are fortunate to have right here in D.C. I’ll be spotlighting more of these artists here in future columns. Meantime, please support current and future projects by Wayna, Kokayi and Raheem Devaughn. If they should come to your area, be sure to see them live.

I also have to mention that there are many other underrated male and female artists nominated in various categories. I have been checking hard for Janelle Monae, Maiysha, Anthony David, and Sam Sparro. I’m glad to see they got some recognition. View the complete list of nominations here and watch for those categories on Sunday. Whether they win or not, you will certainly be hearing more about them here.

I appreciate the support you’ve shown the music thus far so I wanted to share a treat. Some of my favorite podcasters were asked to put together mixes featuring Grammy nominated artists in various genres. Visit each of their sites and download the free mixes. While you’re there, check out some of their previous mixes which you can also download for free. It’s one of the primary ways I discover new artists.

Friday Favecast: Soul Grammy Podcast

Macedonia’s Radio BSOTS: Grammys on Shuffle (electronic world mixes)

Flowink: Hip Hop Grammy Podcast

Fresh’s Sunday Soundtrack: Jazz Grammy Nominees

Be sure to tune into the Grammy Awards Sunday at 8pm EST/PST on CBS.

Danielle “Vivrant Thang” Hatchett is a freelance writer and blogger living life like it’s golden in the DC Metro area. She is the creator of Songs in the Key of Life, a music blog (with the occasional personal element) that spotlights underrated soul artists who “don’t be gettin no airplay.” She also maintains a companion You Tube channel where you can view footage of all of her concert adventures. Vivrant Thang has a regular spot here on Urban Thought Collective, and can be contacted at vivrantthang8@gmail.com.

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February 5th, 2009 at 6:15 am FaVORED says:

Good topic! This is a way overlooked category. Is it televised?

February 5th, 2009 at 10:17 am thelma says:

these are some great artists I really love wayna too she has a nice smooth sound
I haven’t watched the grammys in years but i may tune in this time

February 5th, 2009 at 11:21 am Ashley says:

Go head DC!! Love your spotlight because a few of these artist I didn’t know.

February 5th, 2009 at 1:21 pm Travis Utley says:

that’s pretty bold to do a remake of ‘loving you’ — she must have some real chops

February 5th, 2009 at 3:34 pm Ingrid says:

I love Raheem! He has the soul love thing down pat

February 5th, 2009 at 5:09 pm Tina says:

Sam Sparro is one of my new favorites!

February 5th, 2009 at 10:03 pm RedRazor says:

I like your tastes Queen

February 5th, 2009 at 11:16 pm chica22 says:

I’ve never heard of any of these people except KIND OF Raheem DeVaughn but I cant tell you a song he sings. I think I need to get with it.

February 6th, 2009 at 12:58 am Elsa Harkins says:

I never heard of Wayna but she’s good. thanks for the intro. I’m checking for her now.

February 6th, 2009 at 10:22 am Krista Wills says:

I’ll be tuning in there is always some crazy performance or speech at these things

February 6th, 2009 at 10:26 am culturepop says:

you been teaching this old dog some new tricks LOL! I really like your taste

February 6th, 2009 at 11:52 am Yollee says:

I tried to get into janelle monae. I got the album and I’m usually able to get into alternative stuff, but this one just escapes me

February 6th, 2009 at 11:54 am Robert Franklin says:

so many artists out there laying it down with no shine! thanks for sharing the underground

February 6th, 2009 at 2:57 pm heatmizer says:

my itunes account is about to be maxed out LOL!
This is some good stuff for the collection for real

February 6th, 2009 at 10:54 pm SweetSis says:

Nice picks!

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