It's an odd year to hold an awards ceremony. CD sales are in steep decline, digital downloads are flat and no one seems to know how to make money from the millions of people who still consume music legally and illegally.
Still, expect the industry to show its best during the 49th annual Grammy Awards. Despite its financial woes, the music scene is arguably better than ever, even if many of us need to relearn how to support it with our wallets, not just our enthusiasm.
Here's a look at the Atlanta-based artists up for awards:
Gnarls Barkley: Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse's platinum-certified project is one of the year's top nominees, with citations for Record of the Year ("Crazy"), Album of the Year (St. Elsewhere), Best Alternative Album and Best Urban/Alternative Performance. Cee-Lo's right-hand man, musician and engineer, Ben H. Allen, got two nominations for his work on those records.
Bryan-Michael Cox: The songwriter earned four nominations for producing and cowriting Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You" (including Record of the Year), and co-writing Mariah Carey's "Don't Forget About Us." Singer/songwriter Johnta Austin drew three nominations for his lyrical contributions to the same tracks.
T.I.: As the man with the biggest rap album of 2006 in King, Clifford Harris picked up four nominations for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Solo Performance ("What You Know"), Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (Justin Timberlake's "My Love").
Ludacris: Christopher Bridges secured four nominations for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group along with Field Mob ("Georgia"), Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("Unpredictable" with Jamie Foxx), Best Rap Song ("Money Maker" with Pharrell Williams) and Best Rap Album (Release Therapy).
Mastodon: A surprising nomination went to critical fave Mastodon for Best Metal Performance ("Colony of Birchmen").
India.Arie: The neo-soul songbird and Grammy favorite drew three nominations for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance ("I Am Not My Hair"), Best R&B Song and Best R&B Album (Testimony, Vol. 1: Life & Relationship).
OutKast: Big Boi and Andre 3000 drew mixed reviews and disappointing sales for their ambitious movie and album project Idlewild. At least the Grammys recognized their work with nominations for Best Urban/Alternative Performance ("Idlewild Blue (Don'tchu Worry 'Bout Me)") and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group ("Mighty 'O'").
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Choruses: It seems like Atlanta's finest classical organization earns a few Grammy nominations every year. In 2005, it got three. This time, it was recognized for Best Opera Recording (for its performance of Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar: Fountain of Tears). In addition, its performance of new works led to nominations for artists in three other categories.
Some of the artists who drew single nominations include Van Hunt, Akon, Jermaine Dupri, Big Gipp, Yung Joc, Jennifer Nettles, Third Day and its lead singer Mac Powell, former president Jimmy Carter, and Susan Archie & Henry Owings at Fonotone Records.
RANDOM NEWS: Speaking of the ASO, the venerable orchestra and the Woodruff Arts Center announced plans to build a 12,000-seat amphitheater in Alpharetta. The venue is projected to open in 2008. ... The Daily News, Donnie's follow-up to The Colored Section, is finally complete. According to a publicist at Backspin Promotions, SoulThought Records will release it in May, and a CD release party will likely be held. ... If anyone is looking for Johnta Austin's debut, Ocean Drive, don't bother. Originally scheduled for release last December, the hit songwriter's (Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige) debut album got pushed back indefinitely while Virgin Records completes its merger with Capitol Records. ... According to a story in the New York Post, Jermaine Dupri may become an executive at Island Def Jam. Last December, he stepped down as Virgin Records' president of urban music. ... According to Atlantic Records' website, DG Yola will release Gutta World April 24.
The 49th annual Grammy Awards air Sun., Feb. 11, on CBS. For more news, visit CL's Bad Habits blog at www.clbadhabits.com and click on the Music category.