Grammy nomination coverage has been dominated by frontrunners Norah Jones, Bruce Springsteen, Eminem and Avril Lavigne, who each have five nods. But when the awards are handed out February 23rd, a duo from London could conceivably end up with a handful of brass.

Floetry is vying for three little gramophones – best urban/alternative performance, best R&B song for “Floetic” and best contemporary R&B album for Floetic. They’re up against some tough competition with Ashanti and Erykah Badu, among others.

“I haven’t gotten my voice back from screaming so high when I found out about the Grammys,” the duo’s Marsha Ambrosius told POLLSTAR. Her accent was a curious combination of Britain and Philadelphia, the latter being Floetry’s home for approximately three years.

Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart made a name for themselves by writing “Butterflies,” arguably the only hit on Michael Jackson’s last album, Invincible. They’ve also written for Glenn Lewis, Jill Scott and the “Rush Hour 2” soundtrack, and Faith Evans and Brandy have requested their services.

But Floetry saved the ultimate groove for their own album: the happy-go-lucky “Floetic,” which features singing and rapping to an “interpolation” of Mel Torme’s “Born To Be Blue.”

In a genre that can sound regimented, Floetry is known for using a blend of influences that sounds fresh, particularly through their rapid-fire and – impressively – harmonized rapping on opening track “Big Ben” and Ambrosius’ soulful voice. The singer swears it took her only 10 minutes to write the song.

“Floetry is really backward in its way of getting itself into the industry,” she said. “We were a live performance band anyway, so whilst it only took two weeks for the entire album, in the interim, we were performing. … We were just back in Philly for a break and we ended up onstage. It’s crazy, but that’s our passion. That’s our love.”

Ambrosius said she was unaware of the trade photo tradition where artists get sports jerseys with their names on the back. Although it’s true many artists have their own favorite sports heroes but will take the threads of a competitor, Floetry is indelibly tied to the Philadelphia ’76ers to the point where holding up a Sacramento Kings jersey at ARCO Arena may make for some awkwardness.

“I’m terrible because I’m such an avid fan of Allen Iverson and my ’76ers,” she said.

“Destiny’s Child got booed at the (NBA) Finals for wearing the wrong team, so it’s dead serious.

We don’t play when it comes to basketball. Me and Nat played ball; we met playing ball. I’m unsure how I would be able to give away my team.”


Add to that their manager, Julius Erving III, son of NBA legend Dr. J and co-manager of Eve with his new partner, Troy Carter. Erving was introduced to Floetry in 2000 while he was running out of his office to get to the ’76ers’ playoff game in time for tipoff.

He asked the duo to sing a song. Then he asked them to sing another one. He missed the first half of the game.

“The girls are like sisters to me,” Erving told POLLSTAR. “Like little sisters. It’s a personal project also.”

Currently, Erving’s office is handling booking as well as management, although he said an arrangement with Cara Lewis at William Morris Agency is in the works.

Floetry is currently on tour with Common and Talib Kweli (their heroes). Erving said the duo will be going to Europe in March with India.Arie and they want to set up some dates with Erykah Badu. Otherwise, they will do a club run.

Ambrosius’ and Stewart’s history together not only includes competing at London’s basketball tournaments, but also attending Brits Performing Arts School where Ambrosius majored in business and finance and Stewart was a drama student. Their decision to make Floetry a priority came from 15 seconds of silence.

“A literal 15 seconds. I’m not exaggerating,” Ambrosius said. “That’s still eerie, to this day. … When we first got on that stage (at a London club) and decided to put together our poetry, spoken word and music, it was just our voices, no music.”

They sang the first song they wrote together, “Fantasize.” When they were finished, all they got was silence.

“There wasn’t one sound for at least 15 seconds and we thought, ‘Were we wack?’ And, when you’re onstage, you can only see so much. We didn’t realize we had people in tears, and it kind of erupted into this huge applause and standing ovations.

“It was overwhelming and we kind of figured maybe we had something.”