Photo: Jathan Campbell
Behind The GRAMMY: Why The New Best Spoken Word Poetry Album GRAMMY Category Is A Global Victory For Lovers Of Language
In this roundtable with Recording Academy leaders and poetry and spoken word creatives, learn how the Best Spoken Word Poetry Album GRAMMY category was created - and where it's going next.
It's fair to say that the Recording Academy has honored the spoken word community for some time. At the 2022 GRAMMYs, Don Cheadle won the GRAMMY for Best Spoken Word Album for Carry On: Reflections For A New Generation From John Lewis. (Cheadle won out over greats like LeVar Burton, J. Ivy and Dave Chappelle — and even former U.S. President Barack Obama.)
Still, the wider Spoken Word GRAMMY Field — which houses the Best Audio Book, Narration & Storytelling Recording category, formerly known as the Best Spoken Word Album — continues to evolve. And when the growing spoken word and poetry communities spoke out about equal representation in the industry, the Recording Academy listened — and responded.
At the upcoming 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, the Recording Academy will award the first-ever GRAMMY Award for Best Spoken Word Poetry Album. The GRAMMY category addition comes along with several other new categories and awards, including Songwriter Of The Year (Non-Classical) and Best Score Soundtrack For Video Games and Other Interactive Media, among many others.
The 2023 GRAMMY nominations are officially here. See the complete list of nominees across all 91 GRAMMY categories.
"For me, it was an exciting opportunity because we were also hearing a lot from the spoken word community," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said about the addition of the new Best Spoken Word Poetry Album GRAMMY category. "All of our changes and reactions to what's happening are always going to be fluid; we're always going to evolve our categories. We're going to continue to make sure we're representing music in the way that it's being created," he added.
For those looking to submit their works in the first-ever Best Spoken Word Poetry Album category at the upcoming 2023 GRAMMYs, make sure to submit your works during the Online Entry Process (OEP), which is open now and closes on Wednesday, August 31, at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET. Recording Academy members and media companies can submit entries for GRAMMY consideration for this category through the OEP website. Only albums released between Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, through Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, are eligible for this category at the 65th GRAMMY Awards.
What's best, the GRAMMY nominees, and ultimately the winner, in the Best Spoken Word Poetry Album category will be decided by peers within this genre. Voting members who choose the Spoken Word Field as one of the three fields in which they are peers will vote on this inaugural GRAMMY category during First Round Voting (Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022 – Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022) and Final Round Voting (Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022 – Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023). Anyone who's interested in becoming a new member of the Recording Academy should apply for membership by Wednesday, March 1, 2023, to be part of next year's class.
In this exclusive roundtable interview, Recording Academy leaders, including Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr., as well as poetry and spoken word luminaries discuss the founding of the inaugural Best Spoken Word Poetry Album GRAMMY category, why it matters to represent this artistic community, and how the Academy plans to continue celebrating and uplifting the spoken word poetry community.
Why is it important for the Recording Academy to add this category, which honors excellence and spoken word albums, specific to the performance of poetry with or without music?
Harvey Mason jr., CEO, the Recording Academy: People have been telling stories and using this spoken word art form as a means to create and communicate.
For me, it was an exciting opportunity because we were also hearing a lot from the spoken word community.
We started putting spoken word, audio books and some other things, all in one category [Best Spoken Word Album]. And as we started hearing from the spoken word community, they became more and more active.
The Awards and Nominations [A&N] committee and Board of Trustees, who passed this proposal [for the Best Spoken Word Poetry Album GRAMMY category addition], realized that there was space needed to recognize this group and this genre — specifically and independently of how they're being recognized previously.
All of our changes and reactions to what's happening are always going to be fluid; we're always going to evolve our categories. We're going to continue to make sure we're representing music in the way that it's being created.
And when we hear from music makers and creators, we're going to listen. When it makes sense, we'll change. And this is something that was brought to our attention that made a lot of sense. I'm thankful to the A&N committee and the proposal creators that we were able to bring this up and establish a new, important category.
J. Ivy, CEO, Word & Soul, LLC; GRAMMY-nominated spoken word poet: It's important because the Recording Academy's mission is to honor the best in music. It's important because poetry is, in fact, a big part of music. It's important because spoken word poets and spoken word artists have been pushing the culture forward with their words, their ideas and their performances since the beginning of time.
Poetry has always uplifted the people, it has always inspired the people. It has motivated the masses to push through their struggles and fight to be more. Poetry has always left the world in a better place. Poetry has not only changed lives, but it has saved lives. The poet has always been and will always be a very vital part of our culture and our music, and it's only right that the Recording Academy and the music community as a whole acknowledge and honor the tremendous work poets put into the world with their spoken word poetry albums. I couldn't be prouder to be a part of this moment.
*J. Ivy. | Photo: Emmai Alaquiva*
Seeing how the Best Spoken Word Poetry Album is a first-year category, why is it important for poets, artists and creators to submit their recordings into this new category for GRAMMY consideration this year?
Jalyn Nelson, Project Manager, Awards, the Recording Academy: This being a first-year category is the reason it is so important for poets, artists and creators to submit their recordings for consideration. Entries are what keep our categories strong and healthy, and with a new category, it's so important to receive those entries so that the category can sustain — and properly reflect — the vast variety of work being created in these communities.
Mason jr.: For a first-year category — or any category for that matter — the amount of submissions equates directly to the health of the category. If you're getting a low number of submissions, it's not a healthy category, and that would be a category that would be addressed by the A&N committee in subsequent years.
So, you want to make sure when you have a category — especially a newer one — that you're getting enough submissions so that it's deemed healthy and it can remain a viable category on the ballot year to year. This year, in particular, everyone will be watching. The A&N committee will be watching, the Trustees will be watching to see how the category performs, as far as submissions.
In this first year, it is important to make sure there are enough submissions to make this category feel relevant, feel like a part of our process, be fair, and have enough entries so that we can evaluate music and award someone for their excellence.
J. Ivy: It's important for poets and spoken word artists to submit because we want to make sure the category stands the test of time. We need this category to stay, so we need the poets to submit their albums year after year. We need poets bringing home GRAMMYs year after year.
*Sekou Andrews | Photo: Sun & Sparrow Photography*
Sekou Andrews, CEO, Poetic Voice; GRAMMY-nominated spoken word poet: We have opened the door and told the Academy that poets will come through it. So now it's time for poets to show up. We need to prove that spoken word poets can sustain a healthy category rich with submissions year after year.
I would also add that we need to step up our game and make sure we are submitting GRAMMY-caliber albums. As we expand our voice and impact from local open mics to global stages, we need to take pride in maintaining high standards as recording artists who are not just amazing on stage, but who can deliver world-class, professionally recorded projects that reflect the beauty and power of our art form.
Ryan Butler, Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, the Recording Academy: It's of utmost importance that poets, artists and creators submit their recordings in this new Best Spoken Word Poetry Album category because getting it on the ballot was just the first step. We now need the spoken word community to come together and submit their work. Representation across the music community matters, and while we heard the community and the category is officially on the ballot, it's now in the hands of the creators to submit for consideration and keep the category healthy for years to come.
The Best Spoken Word Poetry Album GRAMMY category will be voted on by Recording Academy Voting Members who are peers in the wider Spoken Word Field. Why is it important for poets and spoken word creators to join the Recording Academy as voting members to vote in these specific categories and fields?
Andrews: The GRAMMYs are not a poetry slam. This is not a local stage where we show up and get scored by random judges who may have no connection to the artists or the art form itself. No, this is a global stage where we finally get to show up and be celebrated by our fellow peers who recognize the dopest poems, respect the dopest work, and are often the dopest poets in our genre themselves.
Black Americans are often urged to vote in political elections because our ancestors fought, bled and died to give us the right to vote. But just like with political elections, it only works if poets use their voice, place their vote, and actually engage in showing the world the best of our art form as only we know it.
Nelson: One of the most important ways to get involved with the Recording Academy is to join as a member. Members are the ones who submit for consideration and vote for our nominees — and, ultimately, our winners. What makes the GRAMMY unique is that it is peer-awarded, and having a well-represented community of poets and spoken word creators in our voting body ensures that.
*Ryan Butler | Photo: Aaron Doggett for Visyoual Media*
Mason jr.: I think what makes the GRAMMY special is the fact that it's awarded by music professionals and people working in the industry, as opposed to a popular vote or fan vote, or the committee voting or advertisers deciding who will make a good TV show.
GRAMMYs are given away by your peers. To remain relevant and continue to have a significant impact, we have to make sure people who are making a specific genre of music are voting within that genre, evaluating submissions critically, and voting on which one they thought was the best for that year.
To do that, you have to have people knowledgeable in specific genres, categories and crafts. So, we need to make sure that the people that are working in the industry and creating all this amazing music and art are actually voting for who we honor every year.
Black Americans are often urged to vote in political elections because our ancestors fought, bled and died to give us the right to vote. But just like with political elections, it only works if poets use their voice, place their vote, and actually engage in showing the world the best of our art form as only we know it.
Butler: Representation matters! Your voice matters! Becoming a voting member and voting amongst your peers is the best way to represent the category and the community. Membership is the core of the Recording Academy. Building an active, representative and inclusive membership base that embodies our diverse music community is fundamental to everything we do.
This past June, we extended membership invitations to more than 2,700 highly qualified music professionals from wide-ranging backgrounds, genres and disciplines. Every corner of the industry was represented in this new class, from jazz to reggae, classical to spoken word, songwriters to instrumentalists, and beyond.
What is the relationship between the poetry and the music communities? What bonds these two art forms?
J. Ivy: On my last album, Catching Dreams, I have a poem called "The World Needs More Poets." Within that poem, there's a phrase that says, "Poetry is the seed of every song ever written." Poetry has always been the deepest root of our creativity. Every day, we find ourselves listening to music where poetry is sung, we listen to music where poetry is rapped, and we listen to music where poetry is spoken. This beautiful art form has been an important part of our history, our ideology, our creativity, our education, our legacy, and our music.
Oftentimes, you'll see the genre of spoken word poetry cross paths with other genres. You'll see beautiful collaborations where poets work with hip-hop artists, gospel artists and R&B artists. You'll hear poets on blues, gospel, country, and house music albums because everyone has always had a deep appreciation for the unique perspective and flow that only a poet can bring. What artist isn't a poet at heart? This is why there will always be a strong bond between poetry and the music community. They're one and the same, which is why the demand for poetry and poetry & music has grown over the years.
Read More: J. Ivy On The Art & Craft Of Spoken Word
Butler: Poetry and music have intersected for centuries. The two art forms coexist harmoniously, and much of what we hear in modern-day music is derived from poetry and spoken word. We at the Recording Academy know the significance of spoken word and listened to the community, and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) department hosted a series of listening sessions, with one spearheaded by poet and recording artist J. Ivy. What resulted from this listening session was the need for spoken word to be properly represented as a GRAMMY category. The Awards and DEI teams worked with J. Ivy on creating a proposal for the Awards & Nominations Committee to review.
Andrews: Take any beautifully written song and strip away the music; you will likely find a poem. Take any poem, add melody, and you may have created a song. I dare you to tell me that Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise" wouldn't be a hit song in the hands of Paul McCartney or Beyoncé. Try to convince me that an anthology of Prince lyrics couldn't win poetry awards. The two art forms have been siblings since metaphor found melody. Having them both honored by the Academy goes without saying … but I'm a poet, so very little goes without saying.
*Jalyn Nelson | Photo: Janae Small*
What was your reaction to the development and announcement of the Best Spoken Word Poetry Album GRAMMY category?
J. Ivy: In the past 20 years, Sekou Andrews, Amir Sulaiman, and I have been [some of the] only spoken word poets nominated in the Best Spoken Word Album category, because audio books, which are also included in the Spoken Word field, dominated the category. As the Recording Academy, I understood wanting to award audio books, but I also knew that we could no longer compare apples and oranges.
I'm a huge fan of audio books, but as a poet who has been performing for almost 30 years, I can tell you with confidence that the two are not the same thing. Not wanting to see this continue, not wanting the frustration to keep piling on to the poetry community, with the help of some of the brightest minds in music, I wrote a proposal asking that the Recording Academy split the category and redefine the definition of spoken word poetry so that the poets could finally have our own place at the GRAMMYs.
As a [Recording Academy] Trustee, I had the privilege of voting on the proposal and being in the Zoom room when it came up for discussion. To see [the proposal] pass after years of working on it, after countless hours spent in meetings and on phone calls, it was overwhelming, to say the least. Immediately after the vote, I spoke about how important this [change] is to the culture. I spoke about how this is a game-changer. I spoke about how many lives this will affect for generations to come. Then I cut my camera off because I couldn't help but ball my eyes out as my entire body trembled with joy. I knew that this was and is a historic moment. I'm still amazed that it's real.
The creation of this GRAMMY category reflects how much the Recording Academy truly respects and recognizes the importance of this art form … We are very excited to continue to support and celebrate these communities and their creative efforts.
Andrews: My reaction to the announcement of this category was more than just excitement: It was the feeling of both pride and triumph. Pride, because my purpose in my career has been to help pioneer a mainstream industry for spoken word poetry. Having our art form properly recognized by the Recording Academy is a huge step toward that goal. Triumph, because fulfilling that purpose is a constant battle for a poet. Since we don't have a mainstream industry, poets are endlessly fighting for our place at every table.
When it comes to the GRAMMYs, my friend J. Ivy and I have probably been the two poets at the forefront of that fight over the past few years. I was fighting from outside the system, audaciously chasing a nomination against all odds, while he has been fighting from within as a Chapter President and now Trustee. I like to think that I took point on kicking down the door, and he took point on building a new door and changing the locks. Both have been critical toward making it easier, in the future, for poets to be represented in the Academy and in the music and entertainment industries at large.
What impact will this new Best Spoken Word Poetry Album GRAMMY category make on the poet and poetry community?
Nelson: Our hope is that this new category will create excitement and ultimately encourage and strengthen the poetry and spoken word communities. To know that they have their own GRAMMY category where they can be recognized, celebrated, and awarded a GRAMMY for the work they so passionately create will hopefully encourage the community to create even more, and in the long run, inspire others in this generation and the next to do the same.
J. Ivy: This is a literal shift in culture. I feel that this category will put a lot more eyes and ears on the work that poets do when it comes to our recordings and live performances. I think the more light that is shined on the craft, the more creatives will be inspired to want to become a part of it. I think in the years to come, you'll see kids growing up aspiring to be poets and seeing that they can thrive in their careers while doing it.
So many in the past have shared this passion for the art, but didn't see a way to sustain themselves or their families. I feel that we now have a chance to change the decisions and outcomes of so many artists who come into the world and have a true passion for the art of poetry. I think labels, who have historically shied away from signing poets, will be inclined to offer those record deals [to them]. I think those who choose to remain independent artists will have access to more revenue streams, which in turn will support the dreams and missions of poets across the world.
We now have a chance to change the decisions and outcomes of so many artists who come into the world and have a true passion for the art of poetry.
Andrews: A GRAMMY nomination or GRAMMY Award is one of the most respected metrics for identifying recording artists who have achieved a high level of success and respect from peers. For most musicians, that metric can translate into record deals, sales, and the ability to sustain a successful career. That is what I want for spoken word poets, and this new category is an unprecedented step toward that.
What does the addition of this new GRAMMY category say about the Recording Academy's recognition and support of the creativity and importance of the poetry genre?
Nelson: The creation of this GRAMMY category reflects how much the Recording Academy truly respects and recognizes the importance of this art form. Poets and spoken word creators have always been around making albums; their impact historically and culturally as activists and thought leaders is immeasurable. We are very excited to continue to support and celebrate these communities and their creative efforts.
J. Ivy: It says that the Recording Academy is listening to the needs of the music community and is willing to make the necessary changes. From the moment I spoke up about the need for this change, the Academy was all ears and offered so much help in making this happen. In my experience, the Recording Academy is working to be both a strong reflection of the culture and a huge support to those that create those works of art, which help the world spin in a more peaceful way. To me, seeing the change happen in real time was a huge example of the Recording Academy living up to the promise of being of service to the music community.
How would you like to see the Recording Academy continue to honor the poet and poetry community in the years to come?
Andrews: I believe in the power of words. So my version of the future sees more spoken word artists collaborating with the Academy on major entertainment and advocacy projects. I see poets giving a powerful voice to Academy initiatives in the way that only we can. I see us becoming increasingly involved in the Academy as members, Chapter leaders, Trustees, and hell, even Academy President one day.
But my greatest vision for the future of spoken word poetry in the Academy came to me a few years ago when I wrote the poem "The Music Movement," from my album that got the GRAMMY nomination. I sought to be the first poet to perform that poem at the GRAMMYs, with major recording artists from multiple genres celebrating the power of music and the ways it makes our world better. It didn't happen for me then, but it will for one of us poets one day. And a win for any of us is a win for the art form.
This is a literal shift in culture. I feel that this category will put a lot more eyes and ears on the work that poets do when it comes to our recordings and live performances. I think the more light that is shined on the craft, the more creatives will be inspired to want to become a part of it. I think in the years to come, you'll see kids growing up aspiring to be poets and seeing that they can thrive in their careers while doing it.
J. Ivy: I would love to see this category live long past my years. I would love to see more programming centered around the art form of spoken word poetry. Yes, poets are educators, but poets are entertainers, too. The more the Academy can do to uplift and support the craft, the more poets will have opportunities to not only bring home GRAMMYs, but also be a part of GRAMMY night, the GRAMMY stage, and the GRAMMY experience. In turn, more doors will open and more honor will be brought to the art of poetry. The world needs more poets, and the more the Academy supports this beautiful art form that I love with all my heart and soul, the more poets we will see in the world.
Inside The 2023 GRAMMYs
Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMYs, taking place Sunday, Feb. 5, read more about the current nominees and upcoming awards show.
All The GRAMMY Nominees: See the complete 2023 GRAMMY nominations list across all 91 GRAMMY categories.
Your GRAMMY Guide: Here's everything you need to know about the 2023 GRAMMYs.
Watch Guide: Here's where & how to watch the 2023 GRAMMYs in full.
Album Of The Year: Listen to the Album Of The Year nominees.
Song Of The Year: Hear the Song Of The Year nominees.
Best New Artist: Meet the Best New Artist nominees.
Record Of The Year: Explore the Record Of The Year nominees.
GRAMMY Firsts: Learn about this year's history-making nominations & GRAMMY firsts.
Relive The Magic: Rewatch the 2023 GRAMMY nominations announcement in full.
Beyoncé Makes GRAMMY History: Learn how Beyoncé set a new GRAMMY record.
What's new: Learn about the new GRAMMY categories being introduced at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
GRAMMYs Explained: 6 reasons to be excited about the 2023 GRAMMYs.
Music For Now: Learn how the new Best Song For Social Change award will impact music.
Behind The Hits: Learn why the new Songwriter Of The Year GRAMMY Award matters for the music industry.
Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Beyoncé's Heartfelt Speech For Her Record-Breaking Win In 2023
Relive the night Beyoncé received a gramophone for Best Dance/Electronic Album for 'RENAISSANCE' at the 2023 GRAMMYS — the award that made her the most decorated musician in GRAMMY history.
Six years after her last solo studio album, Beyoncé returned to the music industry with a bang thanks to RENAISSANCE. In homage to her late Uncle Johnny, she created a work of art inspired by the sounds of disco and house that wasn't just culturally impactful — it was history-making.
At the 2023 GRAMMYs, RENAISSANCE won Best Dance/Electronic Album. Marking Beyoncé's 32nd golden gramophone, the win gave the superstar the record for most gramophones won by an individual act.
In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the historic moment Queen Bey took the stage to accept her record-breaking GRAMMY at the 65th Annual GRAMMY Awards.
"Thank you so much. I'm trying not to be too emotional," Beyoncé said at the start of her acceptance speech. "I'm just trying to receive this night."
With a deep breath, she began to list her praises that included God, her family, and the Recording Academy for their continued support throughout her career.
"I'd like to thank my Uncle Johnny, who is not here, but he's here in spirit," Beyoncé proclaimed. "I'd like to thank the queer community for your love and inventing this genre."
Watch the video above for Beyoncé's full speech for Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.
Tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
GRAMMY Rewind: Lizzo Thanks Prince For His Influence After "About Damn Time" Wins Record Of The Year In 2023
Watch Lizzo describe how Prince’s empowering sound led her to “dedicate my life to positive music” during her Record Of The Year acceptance speech for “About Damn Time” at the 2023 GRAMMYs.
Since the start of her career, four-time GRAMMY winner Lizzo has been making music that radiates positive energy. Her Record Of The Year win for "About Damn Time" at the 2023 GRAMMYs proved that being true to yourself and kind to one another always wins.
Travel back to revisit the moment Lizzo won her award in the coveted category in this episode of GRAMMY Rewind.
"Um, huh?" Lizzo exclaimed at the start of her acceptance speech. "Let me tell you something. Me and Adele are having a good time, just enjoying ourselves and rooting for our friends. So, this is an amazing night. This is so unexpected."
Lizzo kicked off her GRAMMY acceptance speech by acknowledging Prince's influence on her sound. "When we lost Prince, I decided to dedicate my life to making positive music," she said. "This was at a time when positive music and feel-good music wasn't mainstream at that point and I felt very misunderstood. I felt on the outside looking in. But I stayed true to myself because I wanted to make the world a better place so I had to be that change."
As tracks like "Good as Hell" and "Truth Hurts" scaled the charts, she noticed more body positivity and self-love anthems from other artists. "I'm just so proud to be a part of it," she cheered.
Most importantly, Lizzo credited staying true to herself despite the pushback for her win. "I promise that you will attract people in your life who believe in you and support you," she said in front of a tearful audience that included Beyoncé and Taylor Swift in standing ovation, before giving a shout-out to her team, family, partner and producers on the record, Blake Slatkin and Ricky Reed.
Watch the video above for Lizzo's complete acceptance speech for Record Of The Year at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8-11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).
Photo: Kevin Mazur
GRAMMY Rewind: Harry Styles Celebrates His Fellow Nominees (And His Biggest Fan) After Album Of The Year Win In 2023
Revisit the moment Harry Styles accepted the most coveted award of the evening for 'Harry's House' and offered a heartfelt nod to his competitors — Beyoncé, Adele, Lizzo, Coldplay and more.
After a wildly successful debut and sophomore record, you'd think it was impossible for Harry Styles to top himself. Yet, his third album, Harry's House, proved to be his most prolific yet.
The critically acclaimed project first birthed Styles' record-breaking, chart-topping single, "As It Was," then landed three more top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Late Night Talking," "Music for a Sushi Restaurant" and "Matilda." The album and "As It Was" scored Styles six nominations at the 2023 GRAMMYs — and helped the star top off his massive Harry's House era with an Album Of The Year win.
In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit Styles' big moment from last year's ceremony, which was made even more special by his superfan, Reina Lafantaisie. Host Trevor Noah (who will return as emcee for the 2024 GRAMMYs) handed the mic to Lafantaisie to announce Styles as the winner, and the two shared a celebratory hug before Styles took the mic.
"I've been so, so inspired by every artist in this category," said Styles, who was up against other industry titans like Beyoncé, Adele, Lizzo and Coldplay. "On nights like tonight, it's important for us to remember that there is no such thing as 'best' in music. I don't think any of us sit in the studio, making decisions based on what will get us [an award]."
Watch the video above to see Harry Styles' complete acceptance speech alongside his collaborators Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson. Check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind, and be sure to tune into the 2024 GRAMMYs on Sunday, Feb. 4, airing live on the CBS Television Network (8 -11:30 p.m. LIVE ET/5-8:30 p.m. LIVE PT) and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the special airs).
Photo: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Inside Resonance: Celebrating 50 Years Of Hip-Hop At The GRAMMY Museum
"Nothing resonates more in our everyday lives than hip-hop," Jimmy Jam said during the celebratory event Resonance, which honored the legacy of hip-hop at the GRAMMY Museum.
The Recording Academy is continuing to honor the legacy of hip-hop, to one of the most popular genres of music in America. Held on Dec. 4 at the GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles, Resonance: Celebrating 50 Years of Hip-Hop was presented by the Academy's Black Music Collective and sponsored by City National Bank.
The Resonance event took over the Museum's fourth floor, which is home to the recently unveiled "Hip Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit." There, members and leadership from the Academy and BMC, along with musicians and industry professionals, celebrated 50 years of music that has transcended boundaries, inspired advocacy and fostered impactful social change.
Guests were welcomed into the space by an unparalleled collection of artifacts — an ode to the genre through memorabilia and interactive displays showcasing the evolution of hip-hop music and culture. Tupac’s all-white suit — worn in the last video he made — is displayed next to Notorious B.I.G.'s red leather pea jacket worn in the music video for Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s "Players Anthem." The impact of the museum’s intentionally curated collection evokes the extended struggle of the Black experience in America, while celebrating its culture, creativity, and endurance against all odds.
The power of connection and representation was emphasized by five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam, an R&B songwriter, music producer, and illustrious GRAMMY Museum Board Member. "The idea of 'resonance' struck a chord in me because the mission is unification, amplification and to celebrate Black music. Nothing resonates more in our everyday lives than hip-hop."
"I'm proud to have known my partner Terry Lewis for 50 years. We were raised on hip-hop," he told the crowd. "Hip-hop inspires, it embodies transcendence. Hip-hop advocates and fosters social change, and the cultural significance is astounding."
Jimmy Jam highlighted the integral role of partnerships between the Black Music Collective and sponsor/supporters such as City National Bank and Amazon Music. Such relationships have enabled the third year of the Amazon Music-sponsored Your Future Is Now, a scholarship program.
"We have the opportunity to pour knowledge, resources and many opportunities into the young talent and the young creatives of the future. And that's what we're here to do," he continued.
GRAMMY Museum Board Member and Executive Vice President of City National Bank, Linda Duncombe, who was introduced by Jimmy Jam as "music’s best friend" spoke to the critical work of support.
"We protect and celebrate those who have shared their gift as well as ensure their artistic contributions are accessible for people of all walks of life around the world and for future generations," she said, adding that as a Museum board member, "educating the next generation of artists and teachers is always top of mind. The 'Mixtape Exhibit' really will inspire students to pursue hip hop and the music industry."
Host Lady London, a rapper and songwriter from The Bronx summed up the power of hip-hop and its ability to transcend music. A hyped crowd enthusiastically received her words.
"It's beautiful to see what we have been able to cultivate in such a short amount of time. We are the culture, we have the power to shift the culture and we continue to move mountains," she said. "We are influences in fashion and design and the Black family education, economic empowerment, the arts. We're limitless.
"We have balanced everything and there is nothing that is quite parallel to that," Lady London continued. "I'm so proud to be a part of the culture."
As guests mingled among the exhibits many displays and highlights like original lyric sketches, mixtapes, and an interactive "sonic playground" where guests could interact with recording devices, make 808 beats and record tracks. Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. reflected on the culmination of a year celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
"Hip hop has been a defining force in our culture and it is so important to be able to honor it in this way" he said. "This is the end of a year that started with us celebrating at our GRAMMY Awards show last season."
Los Angeles' DJ Jadaboo — who has performed for Tommy Hilfiger at New York Fashion Week and a slew of celebrity parties and high profile events — set the vibe all night. Her mix spanned all five decades of the genre and beyond, from R&B to hip hop classics by Jay-Z and Drake, stacking much-sampled songs like Curtis Mayfield’s "Pusher Man" into the set.
As the event carried on, Jimmy Jam’s earlier remarks echoed between the museum’s walls. "Look at what's been done in the last 50 years. You see it all around here," he said. "Now take a look at each other and know all that is happening right now… is because we are the people that are gonna continue to carry this on for another 50 years."
The GRAMMY Museum’s "Hip Hop America: The Mixtape Exhibit" runs through Sept. 4, 2024. "A GRAMMY Salute To 50 Years Of Hip-Hop" will air Sunday, Dec. 10, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. ET and 8 to 10 p.m. PT on the CBS Television Network, and stream live and on demand on Paramount+.