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Each year, one GRAMMY is awarded to recognize music's most promising new talent in the coveted Best New Artist category. Over the years, budding superstars such as Bette Midler, Natalie Cole, John Legend, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, and Maroon 5 have taken home the honor, with all since enjoying long, prolific careers.
Just as the other three major GRAMMY categories — Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Album Of The Year — recognize those involved in an outstanding recording, composition, and collection of recordings respectively, Best New Artist celebrates the outstanding work of a new artist during the eligibility year.
How do we know who qualifies as a "new artist"? The category has arguably the most complex set of rules out of all 84 GRAMMY categories, but essentially a new artist is defined as any performing artist or established performing group who releases, during the eligibility year, the recording that first establishes the public identity of that artist or established group as a performer.
While the nuance of eligibility for Best New Artist has caused some confusion in the past, the implication of the honor is clear: this artist has arrived.
The Best New Artist has been awarded since the 2nd Annual GRAMMY Awards when Bobby Darin won for 1959. Darin also took home Record Of The Year honors for "Mack The Knife," setting a high bar for the dozens of Best New Artist winners who have followed in his footsteps.
Since then, the Best New Artist recipients have spanned the likes of the Beatles, Carpenters, Rickie Lee Jones, Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, and Sam Smith, to name just a few. Last year's winner, Chance The Rapper, earned seven nominations for the 59th GRAMMY Awards, adding wins for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance to his Best New Artist trophy.
Photo credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images
The Recording Academy announced today that it has made major changes to several rules and guidelines that reflect its ongoing commitment to evolve with the musical landscape and to ensure that the GRAMMY Awards nominating process and rules are more transparent and fair.
Among the changes are updates to the Best New Artist category, Latin, R&B and Rap Fields, Nominations Review Committees and more. The new changes go into effect immediately for the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards. In addition, the GRAMMY Awards Rules & Guidelines are now, for the first time, available and can be found here.
"I’m excited to announce our latest changes, as we're constantly evaluating our Awards process and evolving it to ensure the GRAMMY Awards are inclusive and reflect the current state of the music industry," said Harvey Mason jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy. "The Academy accepts proposals for rule changes from members of the music community throughout the year that are carefully reviewed and, if accepted, ultimately ratified at our annual Board meeting, a process that we are proud to have continued in this challenging year."
"As a peer-driven and peer-voted award, members of the music community are directly involved in the growth and preservation of the GRAMMYs process,” said Bill Freimuth, Chief Awards Officer at the Recording Academy. "Each year we receive a number of rule change proposals from artists, producers and songwriters asking us to reevaluate our process to better reflect the current state of the music industry and how it's evolved over the past 12 months."
APPROVED RULE AMENDMENTS:
Best Urban Contemporary Album has been renamed Best Progressive R&B Album to appropriately categorize and describe this subgenre. This change includes a more accurate definition to describe the merit or characteristics of music compositions or performances themselves within the genre of R&B.
This category is intended to highlight albums that include the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music. It may also incorporate production elements found in pop, euro-pop, country, rock, folk and alternative.
Likewise, Best Rap/Sung Performance has been renamed Best Melodic Rap Performance to represent the inclusivity of the growing hybrid performance trends within the rap genre. The expanded category is defined as follows:
This category is intended to recognize solo and collaborative performances containing elements of rap and melody over modern production. This performance requires a strong and clear presence of melody combined with rap cadence, and is inclusive of dialects, lyrics or performance elements from non-rap genres including R&B, rock, country, electronic or more. The production may include traditional elements of rap or elements characteristic of the aforementioned non-rap genres.
In addition, Latin Pop Album has been renamed Best Latin Pop Or Urban Album, and Latin Rock, Urban Or Alternative Album has been renamed Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album to migrate the genres of Latin urban and represent the current state and prominent representation in the Latin urban genres.
The Best Latin Pop Or Urban Album category is intended to recognize excellence in Latin pop or urban music recordings that utilize a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content, and/or musical presentation to create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of Latin pop music style and culture. The category includes recordings from balladeers and commercial Latin music and is not limited to any one region.
The Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album category is intended to highlight Latin rock or alternative music recordings that utilize a stylistic intention, song structure, lyrical content and/or musical presentation to create a sensibility that reflects the broad spectrum of the Latin music style and culture.
Finally, there is no longer a specified maximum number of releases prohibiting artists from entering the Best New Artist category. As such, the screening committees will be charged with determining whether the artist had attained a breakthrough or prominence prior to the eligibility year. Such a determination would result in disqualification.
Nominations Review Committees & Addressing Potential Conflicts of Interest
At the time of invitation to participate on a Nominations Review Committee, a conflict of interest disclosure form will be provided. Each person invited to be a member of such a committee must disclose to the best of their knowledge whether, in connection with any recording that may be entered in the current year’s GRAMMY Awards process, (a) the person would be in line to receive a GRAMMY nomination or win for any recordings being considered in a particular category, (b) the person would have any direct or indirect financial ties to the recordings or creators under consideration, (c) the person has immediate familial ties to any of the artists in the top voter selections, and/or (d) any other conflict of interest, actual or perceived. If a recording listed by the invitee presents a conflict of interest, the Academy will notify the committee member that they cannot participate on the committee that year. If, in the unlikely event that, despite these proactive efforts, a conflict is discovered during the committee meeting, that person will be notified and recused from the meeting. Failure to voluntarily disclose any conflict of interest will result in the person being barred from future Nominations Review Committee participation.
For the full list of rule amendments for the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, which were voted on and passed at the Recording Academy's most recent semiannual Board of Trustees meeting held in May 2020, click here. For information on the Awards process, visit www.grammy101.com. For key dates and eligibility period for the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, click here.
(L-R): DJ Khaled, Quavo and Chance The Rapper perform at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Chance, a native of Chicago, where this year's NBA All-Star Game is being hosted, kicked off the halftime show with an energetic performance of "No Problem," a featured track off his 2016 GRAMMY-winning mixtape, Coloring Book. He brought out special guest and collaborator on the original track Lil Wayne, who dedicated a few lyrics to late NBA icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna who, along with seven others, died in a tragic accident last month (Jan. 26).
DJ Khaled and Quavo then partied onstage next to Chance, performing their collaborative track "I'm The One," featured on Khaled's 2017 album, Grateful.
The show marks another major televised performance from DJ Khaled this year. Last month at the 62nd GRAMMY Awards, the DJ/producer joined an all-star lineup, featuring John Legend, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG, to remember late rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally shot last March.
Chance closed out the jam-packed halftime show with a moving tribute to Bryant. Emotionally distraught, he performed "I Was A Rock," a tribute song he originally performed in memory of late boxing legend Muhammad Ali at the 2016 ESPY Awards show, as images and videos of Bryant played on a screen behind the rapper.
The halftime show closed out the stacked musical lineup at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game and Weekend, which included performances from: Jennifer Hudson, who paid tribute to Bryant; Chaka Khan, who sang the national anthem to officially open the game; and Queen Latifah, who covered Stevie Wonder.
Queen Latifah performs during the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend
Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Last night (Feb. 15), GRAMMY winner Queen Latifah performed as part of the 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend.
In the lead-up to the NBA All-Star Game tonight (Feb. 16), the rapper-singer performed a soulful cover of Stevie Wonder's inspiring ballad "Love's In Need Of Love Today," a featured track off the latter's 1976 classic album, Songs In The Key Of Life.
In the middle of her performance, Queen Latifah added her own flavor when she rapped a few original bars during the song's breakdown.
"I smile at the thought of love/Unconditional, it taught me never how to judge/How I feel about myself/See the world, empathize/Realize we can never, never have enough," she rapped.
In a nod to Kobe Bryant, who died, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others, in a tragic accident last month (Jan. 26), Queen Latifah dedicated a few lyrics to the basketball legend during her performance.
"Home is where the heart is/Don't gotta pay a mortgage/It's free, not a fee you ever owe me/Give love a shot/When you do, say, 'Kobe'/24 hours, 8 days a week—trophies," she rapped, referencing Bryant's jersey numbers—No. 24 and No. 8—during his 20-season run with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The tributes to Bryant and the other accident victims will continue at the NBA All-Star Game tonight. GRAMMY-winning singer Jennifer Hudson is set to open the 69th annual game with a tribute to the late NBA icon.