Grammy nomination a ‘First’ for soul singer Roberson

LOS ANGELES - Slow and steady can still win the race. Just ask Eric Roberson.

By (Reuters)

Published: Sat 23 Jan 2010, 1:29 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 3:20 AM

After nine years as an independent artist, the singer-songwriter is enjoying the fruits of that labor: his first Grammy Award nomination. He’s up for best urban/alternative performance for the song “A Tale of Two” featuring Ben O’Neill & Michelle Thompson. The song is from Roberson’s seventh album, “Music Fan First” (Blue Erro Soul).

Recognized as a role model for the independent soul movement, Roberson says it’s too soon to quantify the nomination’s full effect. He does, however, call the nod an honour and an affirmation of his and other artists’ independent pursuits. “It’s a tap on the shoulders to let you know you’re doing the right thing and maintains the hunger to keep going,” Roberson says.

Released in August, “Music Fan First” marked Roberson’s return to the Billboard charts after a 16-year gap. The album bowed at No. 84 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Another album track, “Borrow You,” debuted at No. 91 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and peaked at No. 77. He’d last appeared on that chart in 1994 as a Warner Bros. artist with the single “The Moon.” It debuted at No. 72 and peaked at No. 53.

In the meantime, the video for another album selection, “Dealing” featuring Lalah Hathaway, has been voted into the top 20 on BET’s Centric network. And the album itself is now available at Best Buy, following in the recent footsteps of retailer f.y.e.

“Four years ago,” Roberson says, “we couldn’t get in those stores.”

A tireless performer, Roberson will play several dates before the Jan. 31 Grammy Awards ceremony. Those include the Toronto Urban Music Festival (Jan. 25) and the Kiss ‘N Grind — Grammy Edition (Jan. 29) in Los Angeles. The latter event will feature fellow urban/alternative Grammy nominees Foreign Exchange and Robert Glasper & Bilal. Then it’s on to San Francisco (Feb. 6), Dallas (Feb. 11), Akron, Ohio (Feb. 13), and Atlanta (Feb. 14).

Whether or not he wins, Roberson says no one can take away the term “Grammy-nominated.” “I’ll use it at the car wash,” he adds with a laugh. “Whatever helps to spread awareness of this music and the indie music scene.”

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