Sturgill Simpson on 2017 Grammy Awards Nods: ‘This Is Much Bigger Than Me’
On Tuesday morning (Dec. 6), Sturgill Simpson was woken up by his publicist, at 7:30AM, delivering some very good news: He received two nominations for the 2017 Grammy Awards -- one for Best Country Album, and the other for the all-genre Album of the Year. The news, Simpson says, came at a good -- albeit early -- time.
"My mother-in-law passed last week, so we kind of needed a ray of sunshine," the singer-songwriter tells the New York Times, adding that, after he got the news, he and his wife, "just kind of stayed in bed for a while."
"I was trying to wrap my head around what this even means and looking back on everything. It’s extremely humbling," Simpson admits. "I went downstairs and made pancakes and watched Sesame Street with my son. That was pretty much it."
Simpson's nominated album, A Sailor's Guide to Earth, was written for his son -- a record of advice, sort of. Simpson says that, when he realized that he had his son to thank for his two Grammy nods, "I got out of bed and went into his room and gave him a hug."
"I feel like he did this, not me," Simpson says.
Simpson made headlines in the fall when he chastised the Academy of Country Music for its newly created Merle Haggard Spirit Award, saying at the time that the ACM, as well as the Country Music Association and other Music Row organizations, "don’t walk it like they talk it." Now that he's nominated for Best Country Album at the Grammys, and the genre's de facto representation in the Album of the Year category, the artist -- who has never made a big to-do about defining his music as country, or even as Americana -- says that he's not thinking about his nominations in that way, or as a statement to the Nashville establishment.
"I’m not sure what I represent; I just want to make art. If [the ACMs or the CMAs] wanted to recognize me one day, that’s great, too. If they don’t, it doesn’t change how I’m approaching my career at all," Simpson muses, adding that his Grammy nods "[are] much bigger than me ... I certainly don’t want to use this opportunity to vent negativity in any way. It’s a really good day for me and my band, after a lot of hard work. Now the reward is we get to go do a lot more hard work, and that’s a beautiful thing."
Included in that hard work may be a performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards ceremony, though there's been no official invitation ("It's way too early for all that," Simpson says). However, the singer may have a conflict: "My wife and I have our second child on the way, due any time in the first two weeks of February. So this is all a little hairy ... I would love to be there, but I’m not going to miss a birth for it."
As for his competition in the Album of the Year category -- Adele's 25, Beyonce's Lemonade, Justin Bieber's Purpose and Drake's Views -- Simpson admits that he "loved Lemonade" and "thought it was genius," and that he "love[s] the Adele record" as well. He also says that there's another album he wishes had been nominated in the category.
"I really, really wish, honestly, and no [expletive] — I would’ve liked to see Frank Ocean’s name where mine is," Simpson shares. "But that’s not my place to say. I totally understand [his decision to not submit his albums Endless and Blonde for consideration]."
The 59th annual Grammy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on Feb. 12. The Late Late Show host James Corden will host the televised ceremony, which will begin at 8PM ET on CBS; the pre-telecast Premiere Ceremony will begin at 3:30PM ET and be available to stream online. Further details, including a list of performers, will be announced in the coming weeks.
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