Which Local Pol Got a Grammy Nom?

Wed., Nov. 24: C'mon, that's not a hard question + a note of gratitude

» Durham Council Member Up for Grammy

Though he has no more meetings to attend, Pierce Freelon is technically still a member of the Durham City Council for another two weeks or so, which means that for the first time (CORRECTION: for the second time; see below), the Durham City Council technically has a Grammy nominee among its members.

  • Caveat: I didn’t research the “for the first time” thing, but I feel good about the limb I walked out on. (If I’m wrong, I can think of at least three readers who will have corrected me by 9 a.m.) I’d also bet that Freelon is the first person in North Carolina to get a Grammy nom while in office. I mean, that can’t possibly be a long list, can it?

  • GUESS WHAT: I WAS WRONG. As several readers pointed out by 9 a.m., the great gospel singer Shirley Ceasar accomplished this feat on multiple occasions between 1987 and 1991. I had no idea she’d served on the Durham City Council.

  • Historical footnote: Freelon was never elected. He was appointed in 2020 to fill Vernetta Alston’s seat when Alston was elected to the General Assembly and didn’t run this year.

Freelon, the scion of Durham royalty—Grammy-winning jazz singer Nneena Freelon and the late architect Phil Freelon—was nominated in the Best Children’s Music Category for his album Black to the Future.

Here’s the video for the song “Braid My Hair,” featuring his daughter Stella. It’s adorable.

From Billboard Magazine earlier this year:

On Friday (April 30), the North Carolina musician and Durham City Council member released his sophomore children/family music album Black to the Future. The record is the follow-up to last year’s D.a.D., which detailed his experience as a Black father. This time around, the dad of two incorporates elements of Afrofuturism, Black history and archival voices of four generations of his family to touch on imagination, arts, science and technology as they pertain to Blackness. Inspired by artists like Sun Ra and Janelle Monae, Freelon uses cosmic sounds, and snippets of old VHS tapes to blend past and present.

The Grammy winners will be announced on Jan. 31, 2022.

» UNRELATED: While scrolling through the list of nominees, I saw that Louis C.K. is up for Best Comedy Album. Weren’t we done with that guy?

» Thank You So Much

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and in that spirit, I wanted to quickly express my gratitude—first, to everyone who emailed, Facebook Messaged, texted, and called after I wrote about Belle’s death on Friday. I didn’t have time to respond to all of you, but every note meant so much. There are no words for how incredible the outpouring of support has been. We miss the hell out of her, but each day is a little easier than the last.

  • I plan to be back to a semi-regular PRIMER schedule next week, and there are a few stories that broke during my hiatus that we need to catch up on.

More generally, I want to thank each of you who subscribes to this newsletter—whether you contribute financially, whether you share it with friends, whether you read it once in a blue moon. My freelance (i.e., bill-paying) schedule has been packed the last few months, and I haven’t dedicated as much time to PRIMER as I’d like. I’m working on that. For now, thank you for being here.

Happy Thanksgiving.