TORONTO — Drake landed four nominations at the Grammy Awards on Friday, putting an end to his lengthy boycott of the awards ceremony and placing him neck-and-neck with roots singer Allison Russell as one of the top Canadian contenders.
It was a comeback for the Toronto rapper, born Aubrey Graham, whose on-again, off-again relationship with the Recording Academy led him to withdraw his name or just not submit at all in most recent years. Last year, he won a stray Grammy for his featured vocals on another rapper's song.
But his apparent change of heart put his 2022 album "Her Loss" up for consideration, landing it nominations that included best rap album.
Meanwhile, Montreal singer-songwriter Russell also picked up four nods, including best Americana album for "The Returner."
Several other musicians with Canadian ties found themselves competing for multiple awards.
Engineer and mixer Serban Ghenea landed seven nominations, including several in the marquee record and album of the year categories for work with Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo and Jon Batiste.
The Romania-born, Canada-raised pop wizard will compete against himself for record of the year, holding nominations for Swift's "Anti-Hero," Rodrigo's "Vampire" and Batiste's "Worship." He also scored album of the year nominations for Swift's "Midnights" and Rodrigo's "Guts."
Ghenea also had a fruitful year with DJ and producer David Guetta in the pop dance recording category. He shares separate nominations for two Guetta hits: "Baby Don't Hurt Me" and "One in a Million."
Drake's collaborations were also in the spotlight.
His work with 21 Savage on the song "Rich Flex" was among the year's picks for rap performance, while their track "Spin Bout U" got a nod for best melodic rap performance. He rounded out the four nominations with his songwriting effort on "Rich Flex" in the best rap song category.
Russell's four nominations also included recognition for the song "The Returner" in the best Americana performance as well as American roots song categories. The track "Eve Was Black" was among the nominees for best American roots performance.
The dance categories were populated with a number of other notable Canadians.
Joel Zimmerman, better known as Toronto DJ Deadmau5, shared a nomination with U.S. producer Kaskade for their collaborative self-titled project "Kx5," which is up for best dance or electronic album
Henry Walter, known as producer Cirkut, picked up a nod for the song "Higher Than Ever Before" by Disclosure, which competes for best dance/electronic recording.
The best folk album race will see Rufus Wainwright's "Folkocracy" compete against Joni Mitchell's "Joni Mitchell at Newport," a live recording of her surprise 2022 comeback concert.
"Belinda Says" landed Alvvays their first Grammy nomination. The Prince Edward Island dream pop band's song is named in the alternative music performance category.
Toronto hip-hop and jazz outfit Badbadnotgood look to extend their two Grammy wins this year with a nomination in the remixed recording category for their version of "Alien Love Call" by hardcore band Turnstile.
Three-time Grammy-winning conductor and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin extended his good fortunes at the show by pocketing two more nominations.
The Montreal-born musician will contend for his conducting work on Florence Price’s Symphony No. 4 and William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony, which is in the running for best orchestral performance, while his work with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and The Metropolitan Opera Chorus for Terence Blanchard’s "Champion" competes for best opera recording.
Other notable Canadian nominees include Victoria-based metal band Spiritbox, whose "Jaded" contends for best metal performance, and Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, led by the Vancouver-born artist, who are up for best large jazz ensemble album for "Dynamic Maximum Tension."
Vancouver native Ben Wendel stands among the contemporary instrumental album nominees, while Cuban-Canadian jazz artist Hilario Duran holds a nod in the best arrangement, instrumental or a cappella category.
"Star Trek" actor William Shatner competes with an array of U.S. celebrities in the best audio book category. Readings by Meryl Streep, record producer Rick Rubin, U.S. senator Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama will vie against the Montreal native's "Boldly Go: Reflections On A Life Of Awe And Wonder."
Alongside Russell in the American roots song category is Aaron Allen, a former tattoo artist from London, Ont., whose work co-writing on Billy Strings and Willie Nelson's "California Sober" earned him his first nomination.
Ryan Gosling, although not a nominee himself, got some love. The songwriters behind "I'm Just Ken," performed by the London, Ont.-raised actor in the blockbuster "Barbie," are in the running for best song written for visual media.
The 66th Grammy Awards will broadcast Feb. 4 on Citytv and CBS.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2023.
David Friend, The Canadian Press