The GRAMMYs' Trailblazing Women, Part Two
By Paul Grein
Judy Garland made history at the 4th GRAMMY Awards, becoming the first woman to win in one of the "big four" categories. She achieved the feat when her classic album Judy At Carnegie Hall won Album Of The Year for 1961.
In 1990 Garland's daughter, Liza Minnelli, became the first woman to receive a GRAMMY Legend Award.
In honor of Women's History Month, we're taking a look at the women who were the first to win in the current GRAMMY categories.
In part one, we looked at 26 categories, including Best Comedy Album, Best Music Video and Producer Of The Year, Classical. Today, we're going to look at the other 30 categories, including the "big four" awards, as well as The Recording Academy's Special Merit Awards.
Astrud Gilberto was the first woman to win Record Of The Year. She shared the 1964 award with Stan Getz for "The Girl From Ipanema." Carole King was the first woman to win in that category on her own. She took the 1971 award for "It's Too Late." King was also the first woman to win for Song Of The Year. She won that same year for writing "You've Got A Friend."
Bobbie Gentry was the first woman to win Best New Artist. She took the award for 1967, the year of her classic, "Ode To Billie Joe."
In 1967 Ella Fitzgerald became the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Another jazz legend, Billie Holiday, was the first woman to have a recording inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. In 1976 voters saluted her 1941 classic "God Bless The Child."
In 1992 Christine M. Farnon, who was The Recording Academy's first full-time employee, became the first woman to receive a Trustees Award.
Let's conclude our look at the first women to win in every current category that has been in place for at least five years.
The fine print: The category names are as they appeared this year. In many cases, the wording has changed over the years. Except in categories that exclusively recognize behind-the-scenes contributions, the focus here is on the first female artists to win. Where the first woman to win shared the prize with a man, we also show the first woman to win on her own.
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
Keely Smith shared the 1958 award (the first year the GRAMMYs were presented) with her husband Louis Prima for "That Old Black Magic." The Pointer Sisters were the first all-female group or duo to win. They took the 1984 award for "Jump (For My Love)."
Best Pop Vocal Album
Bonnie Raitt won the 1994 award (the first year it was presented) for Longing In Their Hearts.
Best Dance Recording
Donna Summer shared the 1997 award (the first year it was presented) for "Carry On," a collaboration with Giorgio Moroder. The following year, Madonna became the first woman to win her own for "Ray Of Light." (Note: Gloria Gaynor won the 1979 award for Best Disco Recording for "I Will Survive.")
Best Dance/Electronica Album
Madonna won the 2006 award for Confessions On A Dance Floor.
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Natalie Cole took the 1991 award (the first year it was presented) for "Unforgettable." The single (the category was open to singles that year) featured her late father, Nat "King" Cole.
Best Rock Song
Alanis Morissette shared the 1995 award with Glen Ballard for "You Oughta Know." The following year, Tracy Chapman became the first woman to win on her own, for "Give Me One Reason."
Best Rock Album
Alanis Morissette won the 1995 award for Jagged Little Pill.
Best Alternative Music Album
Sinéad O'Connor won the 1990 award (the first year it was presented) for I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got.
Best Traditional R&B Performance
Patti LaBelle won the 1998 award (the first year it was presented) for Live! — One Night Only.
Best R&B Song
Betty Wright shared the 1975 award for co-writing her R&B hit "Where Is The Love" with Harry Wayne Casey, Willie Clarke and Richard Finch. Lauryn Hill was the first woman to win on her own. She took the 1998 award for writing her smash "Doo Wop (That Thing)."
Best R&B Album
The female trio TLC won the 1995 award for CrazySexyCool.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
"Let Me Blow Ya Mind" by Eve featuring Gwen Stefani won the 2001 award (the first year it was presented).
Best Rap Song
Miri Ben Ari shared the 2004 award for co-writing Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" with West and Che Smith.
Best Rap Album
Lauryn Hill shared the 1996 award as a member of Fugees for their album The Score.
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
Verna Kimberly and Vera Kimberly of the Kimberlys shared the 1969 award (the first year it was presented) for "MacArthur Park," a collaboration with Waylon Jennings. Five years later, the Pointer Sisters became the first all-female group or duo to win for "Fairytale." (They were also the first all-female group or duo to win the equivalent pop award. What are the odds?)
Best Country Song
Debbie Hupp shared the 1979 award with Bob Morrison for co-writing Kenny Rogers' hit "You Decorated My Life." Two years later, Dolly Parton became the first woman to win on her own for "9 To 5."
Best Country Album
Mary Chapin Carpenter won the 1994 award for Stones In The Road.
Best New Age Album
Enya won the 1992 award for Shepherd Moons.
Best Jazz Vocal Album
Ella Fitzgerald won the 1976 award (the first year it was presented) for Fitzgerald And Pass…Again, on which she was accompanied by jazz guitarist Joe Pass.
Best Jazz Instrumental Album
This award has been presented every year since the inception of the GRAMMYs in 1958, but until this year, no female had won it. Terri Lyne Carrington broke the barrier in January with Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue.
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
Maria Schneider Orchestra took the 2004 award for Concert In The Garden.
Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance
Gladys Knight shared the 2004 award (the first year it was presented) with Ray Charles. They won for "Heaven Help Us All," a track from his album, Genius Loves Company. The following year, CeCe Winans became the first woman to win on her own for "Pray."
Best Gospel Song
Yolanda Adams shared the 2005 award (the first year it was presented) for "Be Blessed," which she co-wrote with Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and James Q. "Big Jim" Wright. Two years later, Karen Clark-Sheard of the Clark Sisters became the first woman to win on her own for "Blessed & Highly Favored."
Best Latin Pop Album
Lani Hall won the 1985 award for Es Facil Amar.
Best Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative Album
Shakira won the 2005 award for Fijación Oral Vol. 1.
Best Tropical Latin Album
Celia Cruz shared the 1989 award with Ray Barretto for Ritmo En El Corazon. Three years later, Linda Ronstadt became the first woman to win on her own for Frenesi.
(Paul Grein, a veteran music journalist and historian, writes regularly for Yahoo Music.)