Pre-teens may be tiring of pop idols like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, but it seems the R&B community is waking up to Justin Timberlake.
The ‘N Sync singer on Monday picked up two Soul Train Music Award nominations, the only white performer to get a mention.
Rookie soul divas Ashanti and Amerie led the contenders with three nominations each, while Timberlake was among four acts to earn two apiece, the others being singers Musiq and Nelly, British soul duo Floetry and urban boy band B2K.
Winners will be announced during the 17th annual Soul Train Awards, which will air live on March 1 from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
Timberlake’s debut solo album, “Justified,” has sold nearly 2 million copies after 12 weeks in release. He will compete for the R&B/soul album (male) prize against Gerald Levert’s “The G Spot,” Jaheim’s “Still Ghetto” and Musiq’s “Juslisen.”
Timberlake and Musiq also will face off for the R&B/soul single (male) prize, with their respective tunes “Like I Love You” and “Dontchange” competing against Maxwell’s “This Woman’s Work” and Usher’s “U Don’t Have To Call.”
Timberlake’s chances of victory are not good though: the last time a white act won a Soul Train award was in 1998, when Boney James was honored in the since-discontinued jazz category. ‘N Sync received a nomination last year.
Ashanti won two prizes at the American Music Awards last month and has received five Grammy nominations. Her self-titled debut album has sold 3.2 million copies after 43 weeks. Amerie’s debut, “All I Have,” has sold about 500,000 copies in six months.