Five rising solo performers -- three of whom play guitar -- including an Aussie indie-rocker, a doo-wop-pop singer and a country jock
One of the few independent singer-songwriters ever to be nominated in this category, Barnett -- a dry-witted DIY rocker -- closes a breakout year with her first Grammy nod. Following a string of EPs, the Sydney native released her brazen full-length debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, in March -- on Mom & Pop and her own Milk Records, which she runs with her girlfriend, musician Jen Cloher. Arriving on the heels of buzz-building performances at the CMJ and South by Southwest festivals, the LP crowned the Top Rock Albums and Independent Albums charts and set off a nonstop tour that yielded slots at Pitchfork, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. The deadpan 28-year-old also appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where she performed the critically lauded single "Pedestrian at Best" (which hit No. 8 on the Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart) and won four trophies at Australia's Independent Music Awards, including best album.
The British singer-songwriter may not be as recognizable in the States as he is at home in England, but with three Grammy nominations, that very well may change. The falsetto crooner, who was also nominated for best rock song ("Hold Back the River") and best rock album (Chaos and the Calm), has been steadily gaining momentum since signing to Republic Records in 2012, after an A&R rep saw YouTube footage of him performing at an open mic. The next year, the 25-year-old released debut EP The Dark of the Morning, followed by an additional trio of EPs that built up to Chaos, a 12-track LP that arrived in March 2015. Though the full-length peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard 200, the album bowed at No. 1 on the Official U.K. Albums Chart. Bay recently won the Critics' Choice honor at the Brit Awards and landed a pair of top 10 hits ("River" peaked at No. 2).