No one I know released a CD in 2004, so I am cheering for Ray Charles!

Soul and Country Artists Vie for Grammys
NEW YORK – With the year’s top album and single, Usher doesn’t have to worry about getting left out when Grammy nominees are announced Tuesday. The question simply is how many nominations the R&B crooner will get.
His megahit “Yeah!” is likely to receive record and song of the year nominations, and “Confessions,” which has sold more than 7 million copies and spawned four hit singles, seems a lock for album of the year.
But he’s also likely to be nominated in the pop and R&B categories for his performances on songs such as “Confessions” and “Burn,” and could get other nominations for his collaborations with Alicia Keys on “My Boo,” his current big hit, and Ludacris and Lil Jon on “Yeah!”
“His music was everywhere this year, and he’s having his fourth big record from the album this year,” Rick Krim, executive vice president of talent and programming on VH1, said Monday. “He’s the biggest artist of the year.”
But it won’t be a one-man show when the nominations are announced by The Recording Academy in Los Angeles.
Among others expected to get multiple nods: 2002’s Grammy darling, Alicia Keys; rap innovator and newcomer Kanye West; country’s self-proclaimed “redneck woman,” Gretchen Wilson; and Ray Charles, who died in June.
His posthumous album, “Genius Loves Company,” has become the biggest-selling record of his decades-long career, and he’s the subject of the critically acclaimed movie “Ray.”
“There’s always the sentimental factor with the Grammys, and my guess this year is it will be Ray Charles,” said Krim.
Keys’ multiplatinum debut album, “Songs in A Minor,” netted her five Grammys, including song of the year for “Fallin’.” Keys has two songs from her follow-up, “The Diary of Alicia Keys,” that could qualify for that honor this year: “You Don’t Know My Name” and “If I Ain’t Got You,” both retro-soul ballads that were top 10 hits. The album might also make it for album of the year.
“When you have a history of having a successful Grammy run, it certainly helps your case. The same could probably be said for Norah Jones,” said Krim.
Jones is a possibility for album of the year. Her debut disc, the phenomenally successful “Come Away With Me,” won eight Grammys in 2003, and “Feels Like Home,” released in February, has enjoyed commercial and critical success.
Another likely contender for album of the year is West’s innovative debut, “The College Dropout.” West became an unlikely rap superstar by eschewing typical rapspeak about sex, money and gangsta life and offering prose about atypical subjects (“Jesus Walks”).
Other album of the year nominees could include Prince’s “Musicology.” If Prince is nominated, it would be fitting, since he kicked off his comeback year with an electrifying appearance on the Grammy telecast last February; after that, he embarked on a top-selling arena tour, his first in years, and released “Musicology,” which went on to be his most successful album after years out of the spotlight.
Other artists who could hear their name called Tuesday include country legend Loretta Lynn for “Van Lear Rose,” produced by the White Stripes’ Jack White; Hoobastank for “The Reason,” which became a huge rock anthem; Jay-Z, whose “Black Album” is supposedly his last; Brian Wilson for “Smile,” his finally finished album from the 1960s; omnipresent rapper-producer Lil Jon, responsible for Usher’s “Yeah!”; and the pop band Maroon 5.
One of the biggest questions will be whether Ashlee Simpson gets a nod; although her debut album, “Autobiography,” was among the year’s biggest hits, her lip-synching on “Saturday Night Live” may have left some Grammy voters wary.
The Grammys will be doled out Feb. 13 in Los Angeles, and telecast on CBS.