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5 Dream-Team Grammy Collaborations We'd Love To See Sunday Night

We would love to see Yusuf/Cat Stevens and Laura Marling, both nominees for Best Folk Album, team up for a live performance.
Danny Clinch
Courtesy of the artists

The 60th annual Grammy Awards takes place Sunday night. Billed as "music's biggest night," the evening recognizes achievement, yet always promises incredible live performances to draw in the viewers (and boost the ratings).

This year, CBS and The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences are counting on big numbers from big names: Kendrick Lamar, Sam Smith, U2, Pink, Rihanna, and Bruno Mars and Cardi B. (See the whole list of scheduled performers here.) While we're excited to see them, we took a moment to ask ourselves what the dream evening would look like if we could program the Grammy on-air performances.

Drawing from every one of the nominees, here are the blue-sky collaborations we'd love to see Sunday night.

Migos, Lil Uzi Vert and the Christian McBride Big Band, 'Bad and Boujee'

This musical mashup is near and dear to our hearts, especially given the Philadelphia connection (where we produce World Cafe everyday). Philly native jazz bassist Christian McBride is nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for Bringin' It(which it does), and Lil Uzi is nominated for Best New Artist. The two could combine to support Migos (up for Best Rap Performance) for a big band arrangement of "Bad and Boujee." Can we make this happen, please?

Childish Gambino and Sylvan Esso

One of the things I always look forward to during the Grammys telecast is the "In Memoriam" segment. For this year's ceremony, I'd pair the electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso (nominated for Best Electronic/Dance Album) with the ever-morphing polymath Childish Gambino (nominated for five awards, including Record of the Year and Album of the Year). While Gambino is listed to perform, adding Sylvan Esso to the mix takes this to next-level potential. Rather than have them cover a musician who passed away in 2017, I'd have them re-imagine Talking Heads' "Slippery People" in tribute to Stop Making Sense director Jonathan Demme, whose adventurous spirit crossed boundaries in film and music. Donald Glover and Sylvan Esso both carry a similar torch. Here are the Talking Heads to remind you how uplifting that song was in the documentary. (Eric Schuman / WXPN)

Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm, Robert Randolph and The Lost Bayou Ramblers

This has roots music throw-down written all over it. Guitarist Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm as well as Robert Randolph are nominated for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Louisiana's Lost Bayou Ramblers, who draw on classic Cajun with punk rock energy, are nominated for Best Regional Roots Music Album, for Kalenda.

Imagine Cray, one of the greatest living blues guitarists, trading trading riffs and solos with pedal steel guitar player Robert Randolph. It would have the potential to be a spiritually uplifting performance. Add the Lost Bayou Ramblers into the mix and you might as well call it church. Watch Cray & Hi Rhythm perform "I'm With You" during a visit to World Cafe below.

Yusuf/Cat Stevens and Laura Marling

Legendary singer-songwriter Yusuf/Cat Stevens and British singer-songwriter Laura Marling are two of the five nominees for Best Folk Album. We imagine Yusuf/Cat Stevens dueting with Marling on one of his classics like "Moonshadow," or "Wild World." Marling would then cut to "Wildfire" from her nominated album, Semper Femina,tying together six decades of singer-songwriter tradition. Marling visited World Cafe last year. Listen to the session below.

LCD Soundsystem and Bomba Estéreo

Imagine what the James Murphy's electro-funk jams would sound like if they were seamlessly blended with the cumbia of Colombia's Bomba Estéreo. LCD Soundsystem is nominated for Best Dance Recording for "tonite" from its recent album, American Dream. Bomba Estéreo is nominated for Best Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative Album for Ayo. How about they collaborate on David Bowie's "Fame"? Or Harry Nilsson's "Jump Into The Fire" (once covered by LCD)? Now that would be a happening performance.

Copyright 2021 XPN. To see more, visit XPN.

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.
Bruce Warren is assistant general manager for programming of WXPN in Philadelphia. Besides serving as executive producer of World Café, Warren also contributes to Paste magazine and writes for two blogs: Some Velvet Blog and WXPN's All About The Music Blog.