(For a complete list of 52nd GRAMMY Award winners, please click here.)
When nominations for the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards were announced Dec. 2 by The Recording Academy, the list included a Sunshine State surprise: Francesca Battistelli. The singer/songwriter received a nomination in the Best Gospel Performance category for the track "Free To Be Me" off her debut album My Paper Heart.
The surprise? Just four years prior, Battistelli was among the six unsigned-act finalists who performed at The Recording Academy Florida Chapter's 2005 Florida GRAMMY Showcase, an event she describes as a turning point in her career.
"What a journey it has been from that performance four years ago to today," says Battistelli. "My hope is to encourage other young musicians to take part in events such as the GRAMMY Showcase to gain feedback and live performance opportunities in the industry. I am amazed and thankful for this incredible experience, and it is a privilege to be recognized by The Recording Academy in this way."
"Francesca's success is a testament to her hard work and also shows the career boost that artists can receive from entering GRAMMY Showcase events," says Chapter Senior Executive Director Neil Crilly. "It's really great to see her talent recognized again at another level through our GRAMMY Awards process."
Battistelli was chosen as a Florida GRAMMY Showcase finalist by top music industry professionals from more than 230 entries submitted by Florida- and Puerto Rico-based artists. At the 2005 event the Florida Chapter donated 50 percent of the net proceeds to the MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund, which provided direct assistance to those in the music community affected by that season's devastating hurricanes.
As a Florida native, Battistelli began her career at age 13 when she co-starred in the musical "The Bengal Tiger's Ball" and recorded the original cast album with GRAMMY-nominated artist Maureen McGovern. At age 15 she was the featured performer in the pop/R&B trio Bella, with which she appeared on programs such as "Ed McMahon's Next Big Star" and the "Miss Teen USA" pageant.
Inspired by artists from the jazz legends she was introduced to as a child to contemporaries such as Sara Bareilles, John Mayer and fellow contemporary Christian artist Nichole Nordeman, Battistelli set out to write personal reflections on life and faith for the tracks on My Paper Heart, which reached No. 4 on Billboard's Christian Albums chart. Prior to the release of My Paper Heart, Battistelli released an independent album in 2004, Just A Breath, and an EP in early 2008, I'm Letting Go. The singer/songwriter recently concluded a tour with Christian songwriter/guitarist Brandon Heath and GRAMMY-nominated Christian alternative group Leeland and is scheduled to continue touring in March.
The sixth edition of the Florida GRAMMY Showcase will take place on April 13 in Orlando, Fla., and six finalists will again be awarded the opportunity to perform live on opening night of the Florida Music Festival & Conference 2010 in Orlando. For more information, click here.
The 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards will take place live on Sunday, Jan. 31 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast in HDTV and 5.1 Surround Sound at 8 p.m. (ET/PT) on CBS.