TORONTO — Drake’s tempestuous relationship with the Grammy Awards will be tested once again on Sunday as he heads into music’s biggest night with seven nominations.
The Toronto rapper is this year’s most-nominated Canadian artist by far, and he’s a single accolade short of leading contender Kendrick Lamar.
Still, it remains uncertain if Drake will show up to collect his potential wins, especially since he didn’t agree to perform on the broadcast, which airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on Citytv and CBS.
Drake has demonstrated little interest in appealing to Grammy voters since becoming a powerhouse on the music charts. Over his decade-long career he’s won only three of the golden statuettes despite a staggering 35 nominations — not counting the ones he’ll compete for this year.
He boycotted the Grammys last year by choosing not to submit his previous album “More Life,” although his 2018 double-album “Scorpion” was entered for consideration.
In two categories, Drake competes with himself this year. The song “God’s Plan” is vying for best rap performance against Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode,” a track where Drake appears as a guest. He’s also nominated twice in the rap song category, where “God’s Plan” and “Sicko Mode” are among the contenders.
Other Canadian musicians could grab some attention too, including best new artist winner Alessia Cara who’s slated to appear as a presenter.
Shawn Mendes is booked as a performer and will compete for the first Grammys of his career. He’s up for song of the year with “In My Blood” and best pop vocal album. Songwriter Geoffrey Warburton, who hails from Mendes’ hometown of Pickering, Ont., shares the “In My Blood” nomination.
Most of the awards will be handed out at the Grammys “premiere ceremony,” streamed online Sunday afternoon before the telecast.
Here are some other Canadians who could grab attention:
STUDIO WUNDERKIND: He’s racked up 14 Grammy nods over the past decade, but Toronto-raised producer Matthew Samuels — better known as Boi-1da — is still waiting for his first win. Already his resume screams with smash hits including Rihanna’s “Work” and Drake’s “Best I Ever Had.” He could find himself clutching some hardware on Sunday as he heads to the Grammys with six nods, three of them in the best rap song category for Drake’s “God’s Plan,” Eminem’s “Lucky You” and Jay Rock’s “Win.” He’s also up for record of the year and non-classical producer of the year, where he’s competing against Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Linda Perry and Larry Klein.
SPIRITED DEBUT: Ten members of Alberta-founded collective Young Spirit are showing up in hopes of pocketing their first Grammy. The Cree singing group is comprised of 16 people based across North America who tour pow wows and other Indigenous events. They’re nominated for the album “Mewasinsational – Cree Round Dance Songs” in the best regional roots category.
REDISCOVERED VOICE: Soul singer Jackie Shane rose to prominence in the music scenes of 1960s Montreal and Toronto, but she vanished for years to live a reclusive life. York University professor Rob Bowman dug into her past for “Any Other Way,” a retrospective of Shane’s career that’s nominated for historical album. Bowman’s extensive research chronicles Shane’s colourful history as an apprentice to Little Richard and her influence as a black transgender person.
KRALL SPACE: Jazz pianist Diana Krall shares two nominations with legendary 92-year-old crooner Tony Bennett for their project “Love is Here to Stay.” One of its songs, a cover of George Gershwin’s “‘S Wonderful,” is competing for best pop duo or group performance, while it’s also being considered for traditional pop vocal album.
SYMPHONY OF CONTENDERS: Many of this year’s Canadian nominees are tucked in the classical categories with their international collaborators. Montreal-raised pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin is among them, nominated alongside Leif Ove Andsnes for best chamber music or small ensemble performance. Toronto-born conductor Peter Oundjian is up for his seventh Grammy nomination in the classical compendium category for the orchestral works of Vaughan Williams. Violinist Christina Day Martinson, from Saskatoon, Sask., and James Ehnes, who was raised in Brandon, Man., are nominated in the classical instrumental solo category.
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David Friend, The Canadian Press