7 December 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough took on added meaning when nominations were announced Thursday for the 49th annual Grammy Awards. The R&B singer leads the pack with eight noms.

Other key multiple Grammy nominees include Red Hot Chili Peppers (six nominations) and James Blunt, Dixie Chicks, John Mayer, Danger Mouse, Prince, Rick Rubin, Will.i.am and composer John Williams (five each).

Not surprisingly, Blige dominates the R&B categories, where five of her noms originate. But it is the nominations in two marquee categories -- song of the year and record of the year for "Be Without You" -- that signal the crossover commercial and critical appeal Blige achieved with her Geffen album.

"I turned tragedy into triumph, going from victim to victor," an obviously thrilled Blige said in an interview after the morning news conference amid free-for-all mass-media chaos at Hollywood's Music Box@Fonda theater. "And my fans have always been there for me. I'm still human, and this is not making me untouchable. This is making me even more touchable because now I know they're listening to me, and now I'm going to really start talking to them."

For all the accolades Breakthrough accumulated, however, it was shut out of the album of the year category.

That aside, as Recording Academy president Neil Portnow noted: "When you have (Blige's) kind of talent and you keep going year after year, your music gets better and better. Then your fan base gets bigger and bigger. It's a wonderful culmination of that this year for her."

Overall, this year's nominations display genre diversity in the major categories and a willingness to embrace new artists. Click here for a complete list of nominees


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