Winners

2nd Annual GRAMMY Awards (1959)

The first thing you should know about the 2nd Annual GRAMMY Awards is that they weren’t actually “annual” at all. In fact, this awards presentation marked the only time in GRAMMY history that two awards presentations were ever made in one year, with both the 1st and 2nd GRAMMYs falling in 1959. Call it a slightly embarrassing case of premature validation.

The 2nd GRAMMYs did, however, mark another first: the first GRAMMYs to be presented on television as a taped “NBC Sunday Showcase,” which aired on November 29, 1959. Hosted by Meredith Willson—who wrote the Broadway show “The Music Man”—the television program offered performances by classical pianist Van Cliburn, comedian Shelley Berman, Nat “King” Cole, Bobby Darin, folk singer Jimmy Driftwood, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, trumpeter Jonah Jones, the Kingston Trio and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Say this for the GRAMMYs—it always had range.

The award winners themselves were announced at private dinner ceremonies held in Los Angeles and New York. Following the awards presentations, the audience watched the broadcast of the first GRAMMY special. With the ’60s about to get underway and the times about to start a-changing, Darin and Frank Sinatra emerged as the big winners. Darin was named Best New Artist of 1959—the first winner in that category—and he also won Record of the Year with his timeless version of “Mack the Knife.” Sinatra took Album of the Year for Come Dance with Me and Best Vocal Performance, Male, for its title track (which also won Billy May a GRAMMY for Best Arrangement).

Other winners included Jonah Jones’ Best Jazz Performance, Group, award for his very ’50s album I Dig Chicks, poet Carl Sandburg for narrating A Lincoln Portrait, and the iconic Ethel Merman for Best Broadway Show Album for Gypsy, which tied with Gwen Verdon for Redhead.

For all that, even in its earliest TV incarnation, there was never a shortage of critics both willing and able to take their shots at the young if not innocent GRAMMY show. Writing in the New York World Telegram, Harriet Von Horne noted, “But…the pandering to the primitive, uninformed taste that mars so much of TV fare, was on view here…Here was a costly show, brilliantly produced…and it had the whole range of music to choose from. So we had a reading by Shelley Berman instead of Carl Sandburg. We had the clanging, twanging Kingston Trio when we might have had Ethel Merman…”

Others were more understanding, even supportive. Variety said, “GRAMMY Makes Good In TV Bow” in a front page banner headline, and The Hollywood Reporter announced “GRAMMY Telecast Cut Above Average Award Programs.”

Through the good, the bad and the ugly, there would be many more cuts and many more kudos in the years to come.

Record Of The Year
 
winner
Mack The Knife

Bobby Darin, artist.

Album Of The Year
 
winner
Come Dance With Me

Frank Sinatra, artist.

Song Of The Year
 
winner
The Battle Of New Orleans

Jimmy Driftwood, songwriter.

Best Vocal Performance, Female
 
winner
Ella Fitzgerald, GRAMMY winner
But Not For Me

Ella Fitzgerald, artist.

Best Vocal Performance, Male
 
winner
Come Dance With Me

Frank Sinatra, artist.

Best Performance By A Dance Band
 
winner
Duke Ellington, GRAMMY winner
Anatomy Of A Murder

Duke Ellington, artist.

Best Performance By An Orchestra
 
winner
André Previn, GRAMMY winner
Like Young

André Previn & Dave (David) Rose, artists.

Best Performance By A Vocal Group Or Chorus
 
winner
Battle Hymn Of The Republic

Richard Condie, choir director.

Best Jazz Performance - Soloist
 
winner
Ella Fitzgerald, GRAMMY winner
Ella Swings Lightly

Ella Fitzgerald, soloist.

Best Jazz Performance - Group
 
winner
I Dig Chicks

Jonah Jones, artist.

Best Classical Performance - Orchestra
 
winner
Debussy: Images For Orchestra

Charles Munch, artist.

Best Classical Performance - Concerto Or Instrumental Soloist (With Full Orchestral Accompaniment)
 
winner
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3

Van Cliburn, artist.

Best Classical Performance - Opera Cast Or Choral
 
winner
Mozart: The Marriage Of Figaro

Erich Leinsdorf, artist.

Best Classical Performance - Vocal Soloist (With Or Without Orchestra)
 
winner
Bjoerling In Opera

Jussi Bjoerling, artist.

Best Classical Performance - Chamber Music (Including Chamber Orchestra)
 
winner
Beethoven: Sonatas No. 21 In C (Waldstein) And No. 18 In E Flat

Artur Rubinstein, artist.

Best Classical Performance - Concerto Or Instrumental Soloist (Other Than Full Orchestral Accompaniment)
 
winner
Beethoven: Sonatas No. 21 In C (Waldstein) And No. 18 In E Flat

Artur Rubinstein, artist.

Best Musical Composition First Recorded And Released In 1959 (More Than 5 Minutes Duration)
 
winner
Duke Ellington, GRAMMY winner
Anatomy Of A Murder

Duke Ellington, composer.

Best Sound Track Album - Background Score From A Motion Picture Or Television
 
winner
Duke Ellington, GRAMMY winner
Anatomy Of A Murder

Duke Ellington, composer.

Best Sound Track Album, Original Cast - Motion Picture Or Television
 
winner
André Previn, GRAMMY winner
Porgy And Bess

André Previn & Ken Darby, artists.

Best Broadway Show Album
 
winner
Gypsy

Ethel Merman, artist. (TIE)

winner
Redhead

Gwen Verdon, artist. (TIE)

Best Comedy Performance - Spoken Word
 
winner
Inside Shelley Berman

Shelley Berman, artist.

Best Comedy Performance - Musical
 
winner
The Battle Of Kookamonga

Homer And Jethro (Kenneth Burns, Henry Haynes), artist.

Best Performance - Documentary Or Spoken Word (Other Than Comedy)
 
winner
A Lincoln Portrait

Carl Sandburg, narrator.

Best Performance By A "Top 40" Artist
 
winner
Midnight Flyer

Nat "King" Cole, artist.

Best Country & Western Performance
 
winner
The Battle Of New Orleans

Johnny Horton, artist.

Best Rhythm & Blues Performance
 
winner
What A Diff'rence A Day Makes

Dinah Washington, artist.

Best Performance - Folk
 
winner
The Kingston Trio At Large

Kingston Trio (David Guard, Nick Reynolds, Bob Shane), artist.

Best Recording For Children
 
winner
Peter And The Wolf

Peter Ustinov, artist.

Best Arrangement
 
winner
Come Dance With Me

Billy May, arranger.

Best Engineering Contribution - Classical Recording
 
winner
Victory At Sea, Vol. I

Lewis W. Layton, engineer.

Best Engineering Contribution - Novelty Recording
 
winner
Alvin's Harmonica

Ted (Theodore) Keep, engineer.

Best Engineering Contribution - Other Than Classical Or Novelty
 
winner
Belafonte At Carnegie Hall

Robert Simpson, engineer.

Best Album Cover
 
winner
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5

Robert M. Jones, art director.

Best New Artist Of 1959
 
winner
Bobby Darin