A grammy is not just a golden statue; it is a career-booster, sales-bumper and most of all, a cultural indicator. The 61st annual Grammy Awards were held Sunday, and though there were some familiar faces announced as winners, the true winners were the fresh faces, many of whom were women and people of color. This year, unlike years past, diversity prevailed in the most colorful of ways, starting with the host, Alicia Keys.
Among the big winners were Childish Gambino, aka Donald Glover, who took home both Song of the Year, which recognizes songwriting, and Record of the Year for his vocal performance and song engineering in “This is America.” The song also won Best Rap/Sung Performance and Best Music Video. But for Album of the Year, it was underground country artist Kacey Musgraves who took home the award, for her genre-defying, ethereal album “Golden Hour.”
Both were significant in their own rights, with Childish Gambino– who decided to skip and declined to perform at the awards ceremony– being the first hip hop artist to win Song and Record of the Year. Musgraves marked a female victory in the Album of the Year category which, though not groundbreaking, alluded to the show’s women-centric narrative. In fact, every major album winner, from pop to R&B to rap, were females this year.
Such a narrative was necessary for this year’s Grammys, especially after the hashtag #GrammysSoMale trended last year following the Recording Academy President’s comment that women “need to step up” to win awards, as reported by Variety. Last year’s show didn’t even allow Lorde, who was up for the 2018 Album of the Year, to perform solo.
With such controversy, it is no surprise that such artists as Kacey Musgraves, Lady Gaga, who won three awards for her hit “Shallow,’ and Cardi B, who was the first solo woman to win Best Rap Album, were given televised performances and walked away winners. That is not to say they won because they are women, but giving them their earned screen time signified a shift in the Recording Academy’s focus.
The Grammy Awards are voted on by members of the Recording Academy, who are creative and technical professionals in the industry, so the awards are decided by the artists’ own peers. They first meet to decide category eligibility, and then nominate five to eight different nominees in each category. They then engage in final voting, where they vote in 15 categories plus the four in the general field to decide the winners.