Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba and Haiti all influenced the 58th Grammy Awards Ceremony.
The annual show, held at Staples California last Monday, saw Scarborough’s The Weeknd emerge a two-time winner as well.
Jamaica’s royal family of reggae, Morgan Heritage, a fixture on the Toronto scene, was represented by Gramps, Lukes and Peetah Morgan who took home the honours for Best Reggae Album. The five-member sibling group (missing Una and Mr. Mojo Morgan), all children of reggae icon Denroy Morgan, was formed in 1994. Their critically acclaimed album Strictly Roots is available now on iTunes.
As well, Jamaican dancehall artist Assassin aka Agent Sasco was featured on Kendrick Lamar’s Best Rap Album To Pimp a Butterfly. Assassin’s voice was also heard during Lamar’s live Grammy performance of their collaborative effort, The Blacker The Berry.
Trinidad and Tobago’s multi-award-winning Soca King Bunji Garlin and fellow Trini artist MX Prime (formerly Maximus Dan) were acknowledged for their vocal and artistic contributions to Diplo and Skrillex’s Best Dance / Electronic album Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack U.
The EDM deejays turned music producers were pivotal in helping to bring international attention to Bunji’s hit Differentology. In return, he jammed on their single Jungle Bae. They gave Bunji an Instagram shout out: “Congrats to my Diplo and @ Skrillex on their Grammy. Thanks so much for having me on the album with the other greats! #Grammy#2016#Jacku.”
Rapper Trinidad James, a T&T national whose real name is Nicholas Williams, was listed as one of 11 writers of the song that won the Grammy for Record of the Year, Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. Trinidad James receives 8% of the royalties for Uptown Funk.
Megan Trainor, of Trinidad and Tobago heritage, whose award as Best New Artist for her song All About the Bass, insisted that her song, which has topped the U.S. Billboard Charts, is a soca tune.
Trainor who lives in the U.S. and has relatives in Canada, said she was inspired and encouraged by her uncle, Tobago-born soca artist Burton Toney.
“His own passion for soca music served as inspiration for me as I experimented with blending pop and other styles with soca to come up with this hybrid,” Trainor said.
Arturo O’Farrill, known for his Afro-Cuban jazz, won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition for The Afro Latin Jazz Suite. O’ Farrill is Mexican of Cuban heritage.
Latin vocal legend Celia Cruz, posthumously received the Grammys Lifetime Achievement Award. The Cuban-born Queen of Salsa was a well-known and influential female figure in the history of Cuban and Latin music, with a career that spanned half a century. This was her eighth Grammy award.
American-born to Cuban expatriates, Mr. Worldwide, better known as Pitbull, took home the Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album for his Spanish-language album Dale.
Pitbull closed off the three and a half hour festivities with his performance of his new single Bad Man. Pitbull did a wicked soca remix to El Taxi with Trinidad and Tobago’ sensation Machel Montano.
In another notable performance, Lady Gaga paid a musical tribute to the late David Bowie.
Cecile McLorin Salvant of Haitian heritage won top honours for Best Jazz Vocal award for her album For One to Love. The 26- year-old was nominated in the same category in 2014. This is her first win.
Closer to home, Abel Tesfaye of Ethiopian heritage, better known as The Weeknd, won Best R& B performance and Best Urban Contemporary Album. The double win signified a great start for the Weeknd, who was up for seven nominations, including coveted awards Album of the Year and Record of the Year.