Tampa Grammy Nominee still holds significant distinction

DeLeon Sheffield still holds the record for youngest Grammy nominee ever at 9 years old.

Get ready for Sunday's Grammy Awards!

Think of all the songs you've ever heard. Millions of songs and only a few are ever nominated for a Grammy.

With the awards this weekend here on WTSP, 10News reporter Jenny Dean is introducing you to Tampa Bay area artists connected to the Grammys.

DeLeon Sheffield's husband is a hometown hero, baseball great Gary Sheffield. However, DeLeon has her own claim to fame. She's a one-time Grammy nominee, who still holds a pretty significant record.

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Related: 5 things to watch for at the Grammys

DeLeon Sheffield was raised in church surrounded by a family of ministers and pastors. It came easy for her to sing her praises to the Lord. At just 6 years old, she made her mark on the musical scene.

"There was a big gospel fest getting ready to happen at the Chicago stadium, and there was like 20,000 people there, and all the top gospel artists were on this program," DeLeon Sheffield said.

Little DeLeon, with her big voice, sang two songs that day making an impression on a top gospel recording label.

"And they said we're interested, we like what we saw," DeLeon Sheffield said. "Can we sign your daughter to a major recording deal?"

Her first album was how DeLeon Sheffield --known as DeLeon Richards when she was nominated in 1985 -- earned her Grammy nomination for best female gospel soul performance. She was 9 years old, becoming the youngest Grammy nominee ever.

"I knew it was a really big deal for me to be a part of that at that age," DeLeon Sheffield said. "I definitely understood what that was. So I appreciated it. I was in the moment."

DeLeon Sheffield traveled the world singing, eventually meeting and marrying Gary Sheffield. They now have three sons aged 14, 11 and 10. Tampa is now her home.

"I'm excited about what's to come {to} downtown Tampa," DeLeon Sheffield said. "You have the beaches not far away. It's just a beautiful place to live."

She recently partnered with her mother to sell real estate here in Tampa. The two have even started a reality show on A&E's FYI Network.

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However, music is still her passion.

"Music is my first passion," DeLeon Sheffield said. "It's my first love and it's something I will never ever ever leave or move away from."

Recently, she was talking to her son about her Grammy nomination, wondering if she was still the youngest nominee.

"He was like, 'Mommy, let's ask Siri. Let's ask if you're still the youngest Grammy nominee,' and he's like, 'Siri, who's the youngest Grammy nominee?' And sure enough, Siri pulled up me!"

DeLeon says she plans to really focus on her music this year and plans to have a new project out by the end of the year.

The Grammy Awards air at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on WTSP.

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