Roughly four years ago, Khalid Robinson was a fifteen-year-old Army brat who’d spent his childhood bouncing around between Fort Campbell, Fort Drum, and the U.S. military base in Heidelberg, Germany. On the night of the Grammys broadcast in January 2014, he tweeted that, someday, he wanted to attend the awards show.
I want to go to the Grammys one day.
— Khalid (@thegreatkhalid) January 27, 2014
Today, Robinson learned just how quickly some dreams can come true. After the success of his debut album, American Teen, the artist, who records under his first name, leads all Texans in Grammy nominations with five, including high-profile nominations for Song of the Year (along with Logic and Alessia Cara for the suicide awareness anthem “1-800-273-8255,” which was also nominated for Best Music Video) and Best New Artist. He’s also up for Best Urban Contemporary Album for American Teen and Best R&B Song for his breakthrough single “Location.”
That’s a fine cap to an auspicious debut year for the “Young, Dumb, and Broke” singer, who moved to El Paso during his senior year of high school and quickly claimed it as his own. (In the chorus to the title track of American Teen, Khalid sings, “From the city of the 915/Where all the girls are pretty and they’re down for the hype.”) But West Texas isn’t the only part of the state represented at this year’s Grammys.
East Texas native Miranda Lambert scored two nominations—for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for “Tin Man,” the latter of which she shares with co-songwriters and fellow Texans Jack Ingram and Jon Randall. Kelly Clarkson, representing Fort Worth, earned a nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance for “Love So Soft,” while her fellow DFW native Maren Morris will compete against Lambert in Best Country Solo Performance with her “I Could Use a Love Song.” Beyoncé, who did not release any music of her own this year, nonetheless received a nomination for Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Family Feud,” her collaboration with her husband Jay-Z (who led all nominees with eight nominations).
Austin musicians didn’t receive much recognition this year, but Kaleo, Icelandic transplants who call the capital home, earned a nod for Best Rock Performance for “No Good,” which they’ll likely lose to sentimental favorites Leonard Cohen or Chris Cornell, both of whom are nominated posthumously. Dallas native Jazzmeia Horn, meanwhile, earned a Best Jazz Vocal Album nomination for her debut, A Social Call. Additionally, further down on the awards list, Austin music writer Michael Corcoran scored two nominations for the compilation album he contributed to, Washington Phillips And His Manzarene Dreams, which was nominated for Best Historical Album and Best Album Notes.
In all, it’s a relatively quiet year for Texas music at the Grammys—in part, perhaps, because a number of the state’s heavier hitters had quiet years. Gary Clark Jr. only released a live album, and the only single he put out was a cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together,” which isn’t exactly awards bait. Leon Bridges has yet to put out a follow-up to his Grammy-nominated debut in 2015. Beyoncé only appeared on the one Jay-Z song (and earned a nomination for it, naturally), and while Willie Nelson’s God’s Problem Child was widely-acclaimed, the Grammys have honored the prolific musician plenty. (Spoon and the Black Angels, both of whom put out critically-acclaimed albums this year, may have a stronger case.)
Nonetheless, as our recent music issue makes clear, the future of Texas music is bright—and Khalid and his five Grammy nominations are only part of the reason why.