CM – Will Jazmine Sullivan and Silk Sonic win Grammys after their Soul Train Music Awards wins?


The Soul Train Music Awards 2021 aired on November 28th and honors the best in R&B of the past year. Two big winners were especially Jazmine Sullivan, who took home the album of the year for her celebrated “Heaux Tales”, and Silk Sonic, who impressed with her hit “Leave the Door Open”. What can this mean for the Grammys who recently announced their nominees? « Heaux Tales » has been acclaimed and recognized for a while, but this particular win could be especially important to Sullivan’s hype going forward. Since 2009, most of the Soul Train Music Awards album of the year winners have won the Grammys, especially when they were nominated in the R&B field. For example, H.E.R.’s self-titled debut mixtape, Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You” and Bruno Mars’ “24k Magic” are some of the recent Soul Train winners, and they have also won their respective album categories at the Grammys. In addition, the Soul Train Award could generate a lot of hype among R&B fans, who are already defending Sullivan’s album as the best R&B album of the year.

There were a few exceptions, however. Beyoncé’s « Beyoncé » won two Grammys for « Drunk In Love » but lost the best progressive R&B album to Pharrell Williams ’ » GIRL « , despite Beyonce defeating Pharrell on the Soul Trains. Similarly, Kendrick Lamar’s « Good Kid, M.A.A.D City » won Soul Train but lost the Grammys; In fairness, however, the Soul Trains correlate more with the R&B field of the Grammys than with the rap field. Finally, there’s Summer Walker, who, despite winning the Soul Train for Album of the Year for « Over It », didn’t get a single Grammy nomination last year; instead, their Soul Train colleagues Jhené Aiko and Chloe x Halle received the nominations.

Sullivan has strong competition at the Grammys. “Heaux Tales” competes against two nominees for the album of the year: “We Are” by Jon Batiste and “Back of My Mind” by H.E.R. However, there have been divisions between the general field and the genre field before. Additionally, Sullivan’s lack of a generic field title might be more due to her being less familiar to general non-R&B industry insiders than HER, who is a past general field winner and youngest Oscar winner, and Batiste, who has garnered fields on several 11 nominations and is a well-known figure in myriad genres. Also, there could be more hype about Sullivan in the final round of voting than in the first round, which often favors name checks over passion picks.

For Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak, collectively known as Silk Sonic, the Soul Train was Victory for « Leave the Door Open » is inevitable. The song is a huge hit and arguably the biggest hit in both of its R&B Grammy categories. Nonetheless, his win at Soul Train could be important because of his punch, and especially his win for the Ashford and Simpson Songwriter’s Award. This award is not necessarily a precursor to Grammy success, but previous winners such as Solange (« Cranes in the Sky »), Ella Mai (« Boo’d Up ») and H.E.R. (« I Can’t Breathe ») also prevailed at the Grammys. Not a bad track record for Silk Sonic.

We’ll have to wait until the end of January to see how Sullivan and Silk Sonic do at the Grammys. Remember, this is the first year in decades that the Grammys did not have a nomination committee, so the voting was more transparent and therefore there is no suspicion that anyone was strategically prepared to win. If “Heaux Tales” and “Leave the Door Open” can prevail, we will know how strong the Soul Train Music Awards are as a real precursor to the Grammys – and one of the few at that.

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