James Fauntleroy says he learned of his and Terrace Martin’s nomination for their first joint collaboration, Nova, when he awoke to 38 text messages on Friday (Nov. 10).
“I was worried at first, you know, that it was something bad,” says Fauntleroy about seeing the flurry of messages about the project landing a berth in the best progressive R&B album category. “Then I started reading them and got super excited. Because even though I’ve been nominated several times as a songwriter and won, this is my first Grammy nomination as an artist.”
In fact, Fauntleroy’s Grammy stats include four wins and six nominations. Comprising the wins tally: song of the year and best R&B song for the Bruno Mars smash “That’s What I Like” plus album of the year for Mars’ 24K Magic at the 60th Grammy Awards and best R&B song for Justin Timberlake’s “Pusher Love Girl” at the 56th ceremony. Fauntleroy’s estimable list of writing credits includes collaborations with Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar and Stevie Wonder, among others. Fauntleroy is also a member of the songwriter/producer/musician collective 1500 or Nothin’ and a co-founder of the 1500 Sound Academy for aspiring young talent .
Musician/producer and BMG artist Martin is a five-time Grammy nominee who coincidentally was nominated in the best progressive R&B album category for the 65th and 64th ceremonies for his solo album Drones and Dinner Party: Dessert, respectively. Dinner Party is the name of the supergroup featuring Martin and fellow musicians Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper and 9th Wonder. Martin’s other Grammy nods: best R&B album for his Velvet Portraits and consecutive album of the year nods for his contributions to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and good kid, m.A.A.d city.
Released in August 2023, Nova is Martin and Fauntleroy’s hybrid take on the Brazilian music style known as bossa nova. The six-track project is the third in a six-album series being helmed by Martin. And for Fauntleroy — whose friendship and creative relationship with Martin dates back years (“Terrace and I have known each other my whole adult life; he’s literally one of the first people I ever worked with”) — it was definitely a labor of love.
“Terrace and I had been talking forever about what we were going to do together,” says Fauntleroy. “Everybody that knows me knows I just love bossa nova, and I think he knew that that was a smooth way to get me to really do this. And he was absolutely right. I loved having the opportunity to put my spin on bossa nova because I listen to hardcore Brazilian jazz all the time. So I’m really familiar with the melodies they [artists] like to use and the different dynamics of their phrasing. But it was super fun to do it in my way. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.”