Chris Stapleton, Jon Batiste Win Early & Tired Country/Roots Grammys

Chris Stapleton / Jon Batiste

This story has been updated.

The Grammy Awards Premier Ceremony transpired Sunday afternoon, April 3rd, where many of the actual musicians in music are highlighted in the majority of the Grammy’s 86 total categories before the big pop acts take the stage for the evening’s televised presentation. This includes many of the country awards, as well as awards in the American Roots categories, which cover Americana, folk, bluegrass, and blues.

And though some worthy artists and valued projects walked away with deserved awards, it’s hard not to describe 2022’s Grammy haul in country and roots as anything but somewhat deflating, and for a host of reasons.

Chris Stapleton was the first winner, taking home the trophy for Best Country Solo Performance for “You Should Probably Leave,” and later Best Country Song for “Cold.” Though Stapleton continues to be country music’s “more healthy” choice compared to some of his mainstream contemporaries, handing him awards has now felt perfunctory and like a default action for a few years now.

No offense to either “You Should Probably Leave” or “Cold,” but do we really feel like these tracks truly highlight the best song and performance that country music had to offer in the last year? Granted, the competition was pretty weak this year (see nominations below), but many probably had their bet on Mickey Guyton’s “Remember Her Name” winning at least one of those awards.

Maybe in the end, Stapleton was still the best choice, but that feels like a commentary on the field, and how it is chosen. Think of all the great country songs and performances that touched you over the last year, and this is what we end up with represented at the Grammys.

Brothers Osborne also won for Best Country Duo or Group performance for their song “Younger Me.” T.J. Osborne got emotional accepting an Grammy award for the song, and specifically thanked the Academy and the music community for being so accepting of him after he came out as gay in 2021. “Younger Me” is specifically about T.J.’s experience.

Chris Stapleton and Brothers Osborne will duke it out with Sturgill Simpson, Mickey Guyton, as well as Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall, and Jack Ingram for their collaborative album The Marfa Tapes when the Best Country Album award is handed out during the Grammy’s main telecast Sunday night.

UPDATE: Chris Stapleton won the Grammy for Best Country Album with Starting Over.

In the American Roots categories, once again it felt a bit deflating when the first two awards went to Jon Batiste for Best American Roots Song, and Best American Roots Performance for his track “Cry.” It’s not that Jon Batiste and “Cry” couldn’t conceivably be considered in the “Americana” category due to the ever-widening tent covering that designation, but few if anyone would consider Jon Batiste as an artists native to the Americana or American Roots community.

Known mostly as a jazz and R&B performer, this is punctuated by the fact that he was nominated for an incredible eleven Grammy Awards in 2022, including two in R&B categories, two in jazz categories, one in classical, one in a soundtrack category, as well as the all-genre categories of Album of the Year, and Record of the Year. When Jon Batiste ended up on the American Roots ballot, his star power and name recognition prevailed, and it overshadowed artists native to American Roots who could have used that recognition.

Much emphasis has been put on the black women of American roots over the last few years, but with the wins by Jon Batiste, other nominated performers such as Allison Russell, who sang during the Premier Ceremony, as well as Valerie June, and also Yola, who has been on the brink of a Grammy win for years now, were locked out of the song categories. Jon Batiste would go on to win multiple other awards, including Best Music Video, and Best Score Soundtrack.

But from there, things began to improve. Best Americana Album went to Los Lobos for Native Sons, Best Folk Album went to Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi for They’re Calling Me Home, and in a crowded field, Béla Fleck won Best Bluegrass Album for My Bluegrass Heart, beating out titles from Billy Strings, Sturgill Simpson, Rhonda Vincent, and The Infamous Stringdusters.

It still feels like the Grammys are awarding names, not works, but it’s hard to argue with any of the later wins, even though it feels like rising names such as Billy Strings, Tyler Childers, and Allison Russell deserved something as well.

Jon Batiste did not come forward to accept his American Roots awards, though he did appear on the stage for subsequent awards. Béla Fleck, and Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi were not on site to accept their awards. Rhiannon and Francisco are performing in New Mexico this evening.

Also from the American Roots categories, Best Traditional Blues Album went to Cedric Burnside for I Be Trying, and Best Contemporary Blues Album went to Christone “Kingfish” Ingram for 662.

Later in the Premier Ceremony, Carrie Underwood also took home a win for the country world when her album My Savior won for Best Roots Gospel Album. The rootsy and twangy work is probably one of the most country projects Carrie Underwood has released.

Now the only unfinished business for Sunday evening will be who will win Best Country Album (Update: Chris Stapleton did), along with performances from Billy Strings, Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, and Brothers Osborne.

Best Country Solo Performance

Luke Combs – “Forever After All”
Mickey Guyton – “Remember Her Name”
Jason Isbell – “All I Do Is Drive”
Kacey Musgraves – “Camera Roll”
Chris Stapleton – “You Should Probably Leave” – WINNER

Best Country/Duo Performance

Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood – “If I Didn’t Love You”
Brothers Osborne – “Younger Me” – WINNER
Dan + Shay – “Glad You Exist”
Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris – “Chasing After You”
Miranda Lambert and Elle King – “Drunk ( and I Don’t Wannna Go Home)”

Best Country Album

Brothers Osborne – Skeletons
Mickey Guyton – Remember Her Name
Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall, Jack Ingram – The Marfa Tapes
Sturgill Simpson – The Ballad of Dood and Juanita
Chris Stapleton – Starting Over – WINNER

Best Country Song

(Goes to songwriters)

Maren Morris – “Better Than We Found It”
Kacey Musgraves – “Camera Roll”
Chris Stapleton – “Cold” – WINNER
Thomas Rhett – “Country Again”
Walker Hayes – “Fancy Like”
Mickey Guyton – “Remember Her Name”

Best Americana Album

Jackson Browne – Downhill From Everywhere
John Hiatt with the Jerry Douglas Band – Leftover Feelings
Los Lobos – Native Sons – WINNER
Allison Russell – Outside Child
Yola – Stand for Myself

Best American Roots Song

Rhiannon Giddens, Francesco Turrisi – “Avalon”
Valerie June Featuring Carla Thomas – “Call Me a Fool”
Jon Batiste – “Cry” – WINNER
Yola – “Diamond Studded Shoes”
Allison Russell – “Nightflyer”

Best American Roots Performance

Jon Batiste – “Cry” – WINNER
Billy Strings – “Love and Regret”
The Blind Boys of Alabama and Bela Fleck – “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free”
Brandy Clark Featuring Brandi Carlile – “Same Devil”
Allison Russell – “Nightflyer”

Best Bluegrass Album

Billy Strings – Renewal
Béla Fleck – My Bluegrass Heart – WINNER
The Infamous Stringdusters – A Tribute to Bill Monroe
Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 (Butcher Shoppe Sessions)
Rhonda Vincent – Music Is What I See

Best Folk Album

Mary Chapin Carpenter – One Night Lonely (Live)
Tyler Childers – Long Violent History
Madison Cunningham – Wednesday (Extended Edition)
Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi – They’re Calling Me Home – WINNER
Sarah Jarosz – Blue Heron Suite

Best Traditional Blues Album

Elvin Bishop and Charlie Musselwhite – 100 Years of Blues
Blues Traveler – Traveler’s Blues
Cedric Burnside – I Be Trying – WINNER
Guy Davis – Be Ready When I Call You
Kim Wilson – Take Me Back

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