Art & Culture, Lifestyle, Editorial & Opinion, Feature, International

VI Grammy Goes to… the Next Generation 

By Caleisha Simon 

(STT-November 30, 2022) Four Virgin Islands artists and creators have made history yet again by totaling 11 Grammy Award nominations in 2022.

Announced on Nov. 15, 2022, the Grammys blessed the Virgin Islands with nominations for several artists, including one half of the legendary Rock City—Theron Thomas, Verse Simmonds, Masai Harris, and Leslie Brathwaite.

The academy awards will air on CBS on Feb. 5, 2023, for all Virgin Islanders to cheer on.

Here are some award-winning U.S. Virgin Islands natives who have made an impact in the creative world. 


Janelle James


 Janelle James, Emmy nominated actress for Outstanding Supporting Actress in Abbott Elementary, is born and bred in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The talented, creative comedienne has a comedy podcast called You in Danger Gurl.  She hosts a series of conversations and invites other single female guests to read letters from her fans.

James laughs and jokes about the experiences in the letters and shares dating tips about ‘red flags.’

The podcast is billed as “Instant attraction, hot sex, passion…but something’s not right.” This podcast explores outlandish topics and includes an erotic thriller of the week.

James and guest urge the listeners to figure out what ‘signs’ were ignored and point out the obvious omission. It becomes clear in each situation that, “You in Danger Gurl.”

Listen to ‘You In Danger Gurl‘ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you access your podcasts.

Theron Thomas

Rapper, producer, and songwriter Theron Thomas has had his spirit in the works of over 575 songs, collaborating with artists such as Beyonce, Chloe Bailey, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Lizzo, T.I., Kevin James, Luke James, Akon and so many more. 

Katie Welle, Sony Music Publishing (SMP) Senior Vice President, called Thomas,  “one-of-one in talent, work ethic and spirit, inspiring every room he enters.”

The “Locked Away” sensation totaled seven nominations.


  Leslie Brathwaite


The “Mix with the Masters” Star collaborated and won a Grammy Award and seven nominations for the 61st Grammy Awards.

Categories include Best Rap Album, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year.

The talented engineer also has worked with artists such as Beyonce, Cardi B, Pharrell, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, and Jay-Z. Collaborations on Jack Harlow’s “Churchill Downs” and “Come Home the Kids Miss You” earned the musical engineer two 2023 Grammy nominations.

Verse Simmonds


Maurice “Verse” Simmonds is a rapper, singer, composer, record producer, and record executive who is of Virgin Island and Puerto Rican descent. In the 1990s, Simmonds founded the Jugganauts, a production team.

Verse Simmonds was nominated for a Grammy in 2011 and 2015. He has also worked on projects with R. Kelly and Chris Brown for Best R&B Song and Album.  


Masai Harris

Producer and engineer Masai Harris was born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

He has had the honor of producing songs for Giveon, Lil Baby, Kes, Summer Walker, and Skillibeng, winning him one nomination.


What these lovely VI artists have in common is the baton to pass to the next generation. Not only are the networking skills innumerable, but the knowledge they possess is something to look forward to for years to come.  

There must be greatness to slide down the grapevine, but who will catch it? 

Many young people in the community argue that there is nothing to do. The population in the territory has grown to nearly 104,000 residents.

How can so many people be bored, uninspired even, after being locked away for two years amidst so many restrictions?

There may not be 100 different excursions on the island to do, but the territory has lots of potential for local businesses and creative outlets.  

The territory has lots of potential for local businesses and creative outlets.

The territory has lots of potential for local businesses and creative outlets. A couple of alumni of the University of the Virgin Islands banded together after noticing the creative and cultural deprivation.

Khalarni Rivers and Nyaila Callwood decided to take the baton and ignite Fireburn hearts to initiate storytelling, music, performance arts, and professional development.

With VI Crawl setting the bar, more Virgin Islanders have the chance to create their own businesses and projects.

Artists like Theron Thomas and Verse Simmonds become the link between the older generation, Gen Z, and the generations to come. Fellow Virgin Islanders now have no excuse to say there are no opportunities, hobbies, or connections to gain.  


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