Grammy for Best R&B Album: Can D’Angelo hold off veteran Charlie Wilson & newcomer Leon Bridges?

d'angelo leon bridges charlie wilson grammy best r&b album

Will the Grammy for Best R&B Album go to a newcomer or a veteran? Only two of this year’s nominees have contended for this award before, and only one has ever won it: D’Angelo. Is he unbeatable for this prize this year?

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D’Angelo has been nominated 13 times over the last 20 years, winning twice in 2000: Best R&B Album for “Voodoo” and Best Male R&B Vocal for “Untitled (How Does it Feel).” He was also nominated in this category for his debut album “Brown Sugar” in 1995. But though his career breakthrough was two decades ago, “Black Messiah” is actually only D’Angelo’s third album.

He has three nominations this year, including Record of the Year for “Really Love,” which makes him the only nominee in this category who also contends in the general field, which suggests strong support, but he missed out on an Album of the Year bid that many of our predictors were expecting him to get.

D’Angelo may face a tough challenge from Charlie Wilson, who has never won a Grammy in any category despite nine previous nominations (11 total counting his bids this year), including one in this category for “Uncle Charlie” (2009). He’s nominated this year for “Forever Charlie,” his seventh solo album, though he released another 15 studio albums as the lead singer of The Gap Band between 1974 and 1999. Grammy voters often like to award veterans, and Wilson is overdue, so watch out.

The remaining three nominees are relative newcomers. Jazmine Sullivan is nominated for the first time in this race, for her third album “Reality Show.” This year she has two other nominations, Traditional R&B Performance and R&B Song for “Let It Burn,” which brings her career total to 11 noms without any previous wins, just like Wilson, though Sullivan is just 28-years-old.

There are two newcomers in this race, both competing for their debut albums. 26-year-old singer Leon Bridges competes for his debut album, “Coming Home,” though he was snubbed for Best New Artist and this is his only nomination this year, which may indicate limited overall support.

Andra Day is also nominated for her first studio album, “Cheers to the Fall,” and she has one other nomination this year, Best R&B Performance for “Rise Up.”

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Photo credits: D’Angelo by Stephanie Paschal/REX; Charlie Wilson by MediaPunch/REX; Leon Bridges by REX

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