meta-script2024 GRAMMYs: Meet The Nominees For Songwriter Of The Year |
2024 GRAMMYs: Meet The Nominees For Songwriter Of The Year
(From left) Edgar Barrera, Shane McAnally, Jessie Jo Dillon, Justin Tranter, Theron Thomas

Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images, Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for T.J. Martell Foundation, ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images, Natasha Campos/Getty Images for Songwriters of North America; Amy Sussman/Getty Images


2024 GRAMMYs: Meet The Nominees For Songwriter Of The Year

The 2024 GRAMMY nominees for Songwriter Of The Year have arrived: Edgar Barrera, Jessie Jo Dillon, Shane McAnally, Theron Thomas, and Justin Tranter.

GRAMMYs/Nov 10, 2023 - 04:25 pm

It's GRAMMY nominations time! Among the all-genre categories for the 2024 GRAMMYs, songwriters Edgar Barrera, Jessie Jo Dillon, Shane McAnally, Theron Thomas and Justin Tranter round out the second-ever pack of nominees for Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical.

After being introduced for the first time in 2023, the Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical category was moved to the General Field this year along with Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical. It's a monumental change for the Recording Academy's Awards process, and as Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said, an effort to "stay aligned with the ever-evolving musical landscape."

Tobias Jesso Jr. won last year's inaugural gramophone for Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical, and this year's batch of nominees represent excellence in songcraft across all types of genres — from pop and hip-hop to country, K-pop, Broadway and multiple flavors of Latin music. They've worked hand in hand with global superstars like Miley Cyrus, Bad Bunny, Niall Horan, and Jungkook, and also written earworms to help up-and-coming artists like Reneé Rapp, Rels B, Tyla and Megan Moroney introduce themselves to new fans.

Before finding out who will join Tesso Jr. as the category's second-ever winner, get to know more about all five of this year's nominees below.

Edgar Barrera

Edgar Barrera, also known by his moniker Edge, has been a longtime force in Latin music, with a total of 20 Latin GRAMMYs to his name. (Last year, the Miami-based producer even led the pack with the most nominations of the night at 13.) His success has also crossed over to the GRAMMYs, where he's been nominated 17 times since breaking out in 2013; he took home the golden gramophone for Best Tropical Latin Album in 2015 for his work as a producer and recording engineer on Carlos Vives' Más Corazón Profundo.

In the years since, Barrera has become a wildly in-demand songwriter and producer and helped bring subgenres of Latin music into the spotlight, from Karol G's Tejano-leaning "Mi Ex Tenía Razón" to the Spanish hip-hop of Rels B's "yo pr1mero." Of course, the grandest feather in his cap for the year might just be serving as a co-writer on "un x100to," Bad Bunny's foray into regional Mexican music with Grupo Frontera, which shot up the Billboard Hot 100 by landing at No. 5.

In an interview with Apple Music's Zane Lowe, Benito explained why the collab was so important to him. "It's very necessary because the world needed to know more about all culture, the Latin culture — another perspective [that] is not only reggaeton and perreo and urban music," he said. "There are also other very beautiful and very wild genres of Latin music."

Jessie Jo Dillon

One could say Jessie Jo Dillon's songwriting prowess might be hereditary. Her father Dean Dillon, after all, spent his career helping define the sound of '90s country by writing a plethora of songs for George Strait, Toby Keith and Kenny Chesney. The King of Country also gave Jessie Jo her first songwriting credit after she collaborated with her dad on 2009's "The Breath You Take," which was nominated for Best Country Song at the 2011 GRAMMYs.

Fast forward to more than a decade later and the younger Dillon has carried her family legacy into the 2020s, outlining the vast and varied sounds of today's country on songs like Jelly Roll's "Halfway to Hell," Old Dominion's "Memory Lane" and HARDY's "screen." A three-time nominee before the 2024 GRAMMYs (she also received Best Country Song nods for Cole Swindell's "Break Up in the End" in 2019 and Maren Morris' "Better Than We Found It" in 2022), Dillon's work with Brandy Clark helped her earn the Songwriter Of The Year nomination as well as her fourth Best Country Song nom, for Clark's "Buried."

Shane McAnally

Shane McAnally is both a titan and a trailblazer in the world of country music, as an eight-time GRAMMY nominee who is also openly gay. After starting out his career as a solo artist, the Texan transitioned to songwriting and producing full-time after writing "Last Call" by Lee Ann Womack in the summer of 2008 and later collaborating closely with Kacey Musgraves on her 2013 debut album, Same Trailer, Different Park. (His longtime partnership with Musgraves has won McAnally all three of his GRAMMYs, including Best Country Album for Same Trailer Different Park and Best Country Song for both "Merry Go 'Round" and "Space Cowboy.")

McAnally's talents gained wider recognition throughout 2019 and 2020 as audiences watched him mentor aspiring songwriters alongside Ryan Tedder and Ester Dean for two seasons on NBC's "Songland." His 2024 Songwriter Of The Year recognition both come from his continued work in the country world (Sam Hunt's "Walmart," Walker Hayes' "Good With Me") and the ways he's expanded the scope of his writing in pop (Niall Horan's "Never Grow Up"), contemporary Christian (Lauren Daigle's "He's Never Gunna Change") and musical theater (the music and lyrics for Broadway's "Shucked," including Alex Newell's barn-storming standout "Independently Owned").

Theron Thomas

A native of St. Thomas, Theron Thomas got his start writing songs and producing as one-half of R. City with his brother Timothy Thomas. The duo initially signed a deal in 2007 under Akon's KonLive Distribution after meeting the rapper in Atlanta and writing album cut "The Rain" for his 2006 sophomore LP Konvicted. By 2015, they'd landed a top 10 hit of their own, thanks to their single "Locked Away" featuring Adam Levine, and released their debut album, What Dreams Are Made Of. The whole time, Thomas and his brother were also writing for other artists, churning out bangers for the Pussycat Dolls ("When I Grow Up"), Rihanna ("Man Down"), Miley Cyrus ("We Can't Stop") and more.

In the past year, Thomas has brought his own hit-making pen to high-profile hip-hop collabs by Chlöe and Future ("Cheatback"), Ciara and Chris Brown ("How We Roll") and Lil Durk's and J. Cole ("All My Life"). He's also worked with rising stars like Ayla and Sekou and even segued into the world of K-pop by contributing to "Seven," Jungkook's Latto-assisted debut solo single.

"I always say I'm the Chick-fil-A of the music business," Thomas said in an interview with HOT 97 in February. "I'm here to serve and I'm here to bring something to the table."

Justin Tranter

Justin Tranter has been at the forefront of pop circles since the mid-2010s, when he pivoted from fronting NYC rock band Semi Precious Weapons to life as a full-time songwriter. By 2015, he'd been named one of Rolling Stone's "20 Biggest Breakouts" of the year and penned hits for the likes of Justin Bieber ("Sorry"), Selena Gomez ("Hands to Myself"), DNCE ("Cake By the Ocean"), Fifth Harmony ("Like Mariah"), and more.

In 2023 alone, his songwriting chops have helped establish Reneé Rapp as a rising voice to watch on pop-driven tracks like "Pretty Girls" and "Gemini Moon"; given Miley Cyrus a follow-up hit to her global (and now GRAMMY-nominated) smash "Flowers" in the form of the secretly raunchy "River"; and kept Måneskin's raucous party rolling with "Honey! (Are U Coming?)," the lead single off the reissue of their third studio album Rush!, retitled Rush! (Are U Coming?). Like McAnally, Tranter also expanded his resume into musicals by overseeing the original music for Paramount+'s Grease: Rise Of The Pink Ladies.

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Winners & Nominees List

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GRAMMYs/Nov 24, 2023 - 03:44 pm

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2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List

Watch: Camilo, IZA, Manuel Carrasco & Edgar Barrera Link For An International Celebration At The 2023 Latin GRAMMYs
(From left) Edgar Barrera, Camilo, IZA and Manuel Carrasco perform during the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Latin Recording Academy


Watch: Camilo, IZA, Manuel Carrasco & Edgar Barrera Link For An International Celebration At The 2023 Latin GRAMMYs

The collaborative performance featured talent from Colombia, Brazil, Spain and the U.S. Beginning with an acoustic duet and ending with Carnival vibes, Camilo, IZA, Manuel Carrasco, and Edgar Barrera showcased a breadth of musical expression.

GRAMMYs/Nov 17, 2023 - 12:55 am

Some of the brightest talents in the Latin music world — from all around the world — met on stage at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs. 

The performance began with Camilo and Manuel Carrasco in a sweet acoustic duet on their recent single "Salitre," their voices and guitars blending together smoothly. The mood shifted quickly when rising Brazilian singer IZA made her entrance and joined the pair for Camilo’s "Pegao," with Texas-born producer and songwriter Edgar Barrera providing backup on keytar. A festive, Carnivalesque energy filled the room, bolstered by dancers twirling parasols.

"Pegao" is a single from Camilo’s 2022 album De Adentro Pa Afuera, which was nominated for Album Of The Year. The lively cumbia joyfully celebrates his love for his young daughter, Indigo. The mononymous Colombian singer/songwriter penned the song with Barrera and Andres Castro. 

Camilo and Barrera were among the most-nominated artists at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, and worked together on De Adentro Pa Afuera. Barrera, has 13 nominations — thanks to his work with the likes of Bad Bunny, Maluma and Marc Anthony, and Marshmello and Manuel Turizo — and took home the golden gramophone for Producer Of The Year.  He also now shares in the Latin GRAMMY for Best Regional Song as a songwriter on "un x100to," the chart-topping collaboration between Bad Bunny and Grupo Frontera. Camilo earned seven nominations this year. 

Their fellow performers were nominees, too. Spanish singer Manuel Carrasco was up for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his 2022 full-length Corazón y Flecha, and IZA was nominated for Best Portuguese Language Urban Performance for her 2022 single "Fé." 

2023 Latin GRAMMYs: See The Complete Nominations List

Meet The 2023 Latin GRAMMY Nominees For Songwriter Of The Year
Keityn, Elena Rose and Nabález are three of the six nominees for Songwriter Of The Year at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs.

Photos:Denise Truscello/Getty Images for The Latin Recording Academy; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; RONDA CHURCHILL/AFP via Getty Images


Meet The 2023 Latin GRAMMY Nominees For Songwriter Of The Year

In a roundtable discussion, nominees Felipe "Nabález" González Abad, Elena Rose and Kevyn "Keityn" Mauricio Cruz discuss creating hits for some of Latin music's biggest acts, their creative processes, and more.

GRAMMYs/Nov 15, 2023 - 02:17 pm

The people behind the lyrics of this year's biggest songs will be recognized at the 24th Latin GRAMMY Awards. For the first time, the Songwriter Of The Year category was created to put a spotlight on Latin music's composers.

The Latin Recording Academy is highlighting the wordsmiths of Latin music with the Songwriter Of The Year category. To be eligible for the new category, songwriters must have written or co-written six songs during the eligibility period without also being involved as an artist, producer, or engineer. 

The six nominees this year hail from the U.S., Latin America and Spain. Mexican American producer Edgar Barrera, who is the most-nominated person of the year with 13 nods, had a hand in writing hits like Manuel Turizo's "La Bachata" and Grupo Frontera and Bad Bunny's genre-bending collaboration "Un x100to." Colombian songwriter Kevyn "Keityn" Mauricio Cruz — who co-penned Karol G and Shakira's girl power anthem "TQG," as well as Bizarrap's global smash "Shakira: BZRP Music Sessions, Vol. 53" — follows with seven nominations. 

Venezuelan American singer Elena Rose and Colombian musician Felipe González Abad ( also known as Nabález) are two nominees who perform and compose music. Barrera, Spanish songwriter Manuel Lorente Freire (a.k.a. Spread LOF), and Mexican singer/songwriter Horacio Palencia declined to be part of this roundtable interview. In honor of the new category, caught up with Cruz, Rose, and Abad about the work of Latin songwriters and the importance of this recognition.

How do you feel about being nominated for the first ever Songwriter Of The Year award?

Felipe "Nabález" González Abad: It is such an honor. Since I was a little kid, I’ve always had a lot of respect for songwriting and songwriters. Being a part of this first-ever category means the world because I want to keep doing this for the rest of my life. I’d love to still be a songwriter when I’m 70 years old! . It feels kind of surreal that I get to be nominated with songwriters that I follow and always have as a reference when I write songs. 

Kevyn "Keityn" Mauricio Cruz: I'm grateful and happy to be nominated seven times at the 2023 Latin GRAMMY Awards, and in this special occasion for Songwriter Of The Year, which is the first time this category exists. I feel blessed. I already feel like a winner with this nomination. To be nominated with Edgar, Manuel, and a lot of people who are friends of mine, I love it!

Elena Rose: It's a profound honor to be nominated alongside such talented individuals whom I deeply admire and respect. I'm so grateful to the Latin Recording Academy for recognizing and creating a space for those of us behind the songs. To be acknowledged in this manner, especially as a Latina woman, reinforces the belief that dreams are within reach.

Why is it important to you that this category now exists?

González Abad: Music isn’t meant to be made by a single person. You can have the ability to produce, to write, sing, even do your own marketing strategy but sooner or later you have to have a team. We songwriters are at the beginning of that "creativity chain" and we’re the first players of that musical team where the music game begins. 

A beautiful studio production without a great song won’t transcend as much. Without good songs, there’s simply no music industry. Having a songwriter category is one of the best ways to deliver this message and to have a space where songwriters are heard and awarded.

Mauricio Cruz: Because I feel like we're equally as important as the singer and the producer. All three of those components make a song. The lyrics are like the soul of the song. Before our work wasn't seen as that important. Now it's time to put importance on the recognition that a songwriter deserves.

Rose: This award sheds light on the multifaceted roles within the industry that often go unnoticed. It's a misconception that one can only be at the forefront as an artist. Each of us can carve our niche, and my aspiration is to inspire young girls to venture beyond the conventional. This recognition is not just for me, but a testament to the resilient women before me who paved the way. It's a tribute to those who ensured that doors would be open for the next generation.

How would you describe the experience of hearing the words you write come to life as songs?

González Abad: It’s a feeling of great responsibility. You have to be careful about what you mean and actually convey in your lyrics because not only might an artist you grew up listening to sing it, but also probably 30,000 people in a large venue! It also feels amazing, powerful, and it really feels like you’re putting your part in the history of music. Whenever I see a crowd singing something I wrote, I always think back to being in the studio when I was writing that part, and it is very inspiring.

Mauricio Cruz: Karol G is someone who has believed in me since day one. The day I arrived in Medellín with [my manager] Juan Camilo Vargas, who is a friend of Karol's, he showed her my work and she loved it. Every time we get together, the magic between me, her, and [her producer] Ovy on the Drums, leads to something great. They're like family. With Shakira as well, it's been amazing. I've learned a lot from her. She's on another level and has a different way of writing lyrics. She's another person with whom I share a beautiful friendship with. 

Rose: Every time I get on an Uber in a different country that's not my homeland, or when I'm somewhere else and hear one of those songs, they often feel like messages from God, signaling that everything is OK. Even if it's a tune written by a friend of mine, it feels like a sign that I'm on the right track, fulfilling my purpose. It reminds me to remain grateful and that our hard work has a deeper purpose.

How would you describe your songwriting process when you're working with an artist?

Mauricio Cruz: I always try to work off of the vibe. I always try to find a way for there to be a good environment for us to work in, so beautiful things can come out of it. So that it doesn't feel forced. Because of that, me and the artists have a good connection. I always try to be a good person, not only a good songwriter, and that leads to great things. 

González Abad: Empathy! It starts with being kind, having respect for one another, connecting on a social level before seeking inspiration. Literally, good vibes. You can later on write the saddest song in the world, but if there’s no connection before, I doubt a good song will come out. 

After that’s done, there’s always somebody that has an idea, a potential title, a life-changing experience, a heartbreak, a romantic feeling, a hook, a melody, the beginning of a verse, or probably just has the idea of doing something similar they heard on a song they or I liked. Then, it’s just a matter of getting some melodies in, connecting with the lyrics and putting the song together.

Rose: My songwriting process is deeply spiritual and authentic. Before diving into the songwriting, I prioritize establishing a genuine connection. I always begin by speaking with the artist, trying to understand where they are emotionally and mentally. It's important for me to remind them of their unique greatness and to assure them that our collaboration is purposeful. 

For me, the session serves as a sacred space for venting, healing, and infusing intention into our shared narrative. My role, as I see it, is to be there for them, offering reassurance, comfort, and a haven during our time together. My primary goal is to translate their emotions into words and music, serving their needs in the duration of our session.

What is your advice for people that want to get into songwriting?

González Abad: Be honest. Music is for the fans but you as a creator, you are the first fan your song has to have! So be a fan of your work. Always ask yourself, If I don’t like this or if I’m not really feeling this or the path, how can I expect somebody else to vibe with this? This does not mean you can never be in uncomfortable sessions or positions as a songwriter in the studio — discomfort throughout the process is great! But the result has to always sit well at the end for you as a creator. 

Also, understand that delivering your ideas to your co-writers in the studio is just as important as listening to their ideas, melodies, hooks or lyrics. Don’t be that person that never listens. Silence is always key! Be comfortable around silence, awkward and quiet moments. Read the room.

Mauricio Cruz: Don't try to be like anyone else. It's fine to be inspired by other people, but be yourself. Progress doesn't happen in a straight line. Try to embrace what makes you standout. 

Rose: My advice to everyone is to always be mindful of the people you keep around you. Never be in a room where you feel you're the most accomplished. If you find you're the best in that room, you're in the wrong one. Remember, silence can also be music, so listen more and observe. What you have to offer is special and given to you by God. Stay confident and believe you've got this.

What can we expect from next that you can tell us?

González Abad: I am currently exploring a lot. Playing with regional music, electronic music, cumbia, and ballads. Latin music is at a very high peak but there is still so much we can do as songwriters and producers. So, expect a lot of new cumbia songs, even new styles of '90s pop ballads, and even electronic dance music with Latin artists.

Mauricio Cruz: There's more songs coming. Next year, I'll be coming back even stronger. I'm working on a project with Edgar that I can't talk too much about yet. There's big things coming with him. What we've worked on together before is incredible, but what's on the way is even bigger. 

Rose: I'm currently pouring my heart and soul into my debut album, with a strong emphasis on my journey as an artist. The beauty of having been a songwriter for other artists is that they've become my guides and mentors. Their experiences and guidance have not only shown me the essence of being a contemporary artist but also made me realize that I have my own unique voice that needs to be heard.

What do you see for the future of songwriters in Latin music?

González Abad: Practicality. I love when songwriting is taken to a very human level where everybody can understand the lyrics to a song, no matter the genre. If you look at a beautiful bolero, the lyrics are very poetic to us in 2023, but nowadays lyrics are very practical. There could be a chorus with something I can text my girlfriend on a Friday night. Straight to the point. I love that. Also, AI is a big topic nowadays but I’m not afraid of AI replacing songwriters. I don’t think it’ll happen.

Mauricio Cruz: I believe we're going to get to a point where we're more respected. The songwriters of today are working hard so that tomorrow our very important craft is more respected. There's nothing more beautiful than leaving a legacy that marks a before and after in this way to make it easier for the next songwriters coming up.

Rose: Looking ahead with love, as I often do, I see many beautiful things unfolding both for the creatives and within the industry. I sense a growing respect for songwriting, recognizing it as a potent medium for dream fulfillment. I hope it continues to serve as a platform for powerful messages that can transform lives. Every word we pen as songwriters holds immense power, and the world is in dire need of positive and impactful messages. I'm optimistic about the direction we're headed.

2023 Latin GRAMMYs: See The Complete Nominations List

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All images courtesy of the Recording Academy


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GRAMMYs/Nov 14, 2023 - 08:15 pm

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Read More: 2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Nominees List

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