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Behind The GRAMMY: Why The New Best Spoken Word Poetry Album GRAMMY Category Is A Global Victory For Lovers Of Language
2023 GRAMMYs

Graphic: The Recording Academy

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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.

GRAMMYs/Aug 29, 2022 - 11:48 pm

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.

Read More: Air Date For 2023 GRAMMYs Announced: Taking Place On Feb. 5 In Los Angeles; GRAMMY Nominations To Be Announced Nov. 15, 2022

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.

Read More: Why The New Songwriter Of The Year GRAMMY Category Matters For The Music Industry And Creator Community

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.

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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.

Read More: New Categories For The 2023 GRAMMYs Announced: Songwriter Of The Year, Best Video Game Soundtrack, Best Song For Social Change & More Changes

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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.

Read More: How Contemporary Musicians Are Embracing The Spoken Word Album

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.

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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.

—Sekou Andrews

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.

Read More: 2023 GRAMMYs Explained: 6 Reasons To Be Excited About The New Categories & Changes

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.

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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.

—Jalyn Nelson

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.

—J. Ivy

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 

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.

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Ahead of the 2023 GRAMMYs, taking place Sunday, Feb. 5, read more about the current nominees and upcoming awards show.

A Look At 2022 Nominees For Best Música Urbana Album At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

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A Look At 2022 Nominees For Best Música Urbana Album At The 2023 GRAMMY Awards

The 2022 Best Música Urbana Album Nominees at the 2023 GRAMMYs come from some of the biggest names in Latin music, each of whom have fused a unique sensibility and a variety of influences into their records.

GRAMMYs/Nov 16, 2022 - 02:38 pm

Perhaps because in its current incarnation música urbana tackles such a wide array of influences — from the expected bounce of reggaetón to ominous trap moods, frantic dembow and a cool dash of Latin pop — the genre has become a hub for freshness and creativity.

All five 2022 nominees for Best Música Urbana Album at the 65th GRAMMY Awards are international stars, but none of them allowed fame to lead into stagnation. On the contrary, their albums are defined by cutting edge innovation and challenging new sounds. Read on to learn more about offerings from Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee, Farruko, Maluma and Rauw Alejandro.

View the complete list of nominees for the 2023 GRAMMY Awards here.

Rauw Alejandro — TRAP CAKE, VOL. 2

Released in 2019, the first volume of Trap Cake served as a laboratory where the Puerto Rican singer experimented with unusual textures. Vol. 2 marches on the same avant-garde principles, serving as a provocative bridge between Rauw’s genre-defining smash Vice Versa and his restless third album Saturno.

The production is slick and airy on this sumptuous mini-album seeped in a hazy cloud of melancholy nostalgia. The music box-like opening strains of "MUSEO" hint at the precious ambient sonics at hand, whereas the distorted electric guitar and aggressive downbeat of "GRACIAS POR TODO" opens up an intriguing window to the quirks of Rauw as potential rock’n’roller. Co-produced by Jamaican helmer Rvssian, the darkly hued "Caprichoso" features contributions by the singer’s romantic partner — the one and only Rosalía.

Bad Bunny — Un Verano Sin Ti

How do you celebrate the confirmation of your status as a young global pop star? In the case of Bad Bunny, he released the ultimate summer album — an imaginary mixtape, meant to be booming in the background as the poolside party rages on.

The Puerto Rican phenomenon focuses on his usual preoccupations — erotic foreplay, desire as transcendent lifeforce, the stinging aftertaste of romantic separation — but the beats and layers of atmospherics are more abstract and psychedelic than on previous releases. Even though Un Verano Sin Ti boasts stellar collaborations with the likes of Tainy, Rauw Alejandro and Chencho Corleone, the album finds some of its most compelling passages in the stylistic detours of "Ojitos Lindos" — with Colombia’s Bomba Estéreo — and the alternative tropi-rock of "Otro Atardecer," with the Marias.

Daddy Yankee — LEGENDADDY

2022 was the year when the "Gasolina" pioneer shocked the Latin music establishment by announcing his retirement at age 46. Fortunately, Daddy Yankee’s farewell came in the shape of a sprawling party record. LEGENDADDY feels like a passionate, and occasionally wistful, love letter to the limitless variety that has always defined Afro-Caribbean music.

Yankee’s rapid-fire delivery and reggaetón riddims are ever-present, of course, but the menu also includes some wacky dembow ("BOMBÓN," with Lil Jon and Dominican hitmaker El Alfa), and the truly wondrous fusion of salsa, reggaetón and spidery bachata lines on the kinetic "RUMBATÓN." On "AGUA," Yankee is joined by Rauw Alejandro and guitar god Nile Rodgers for a jam infused with post-disco zest. Yankee’s electrifying live performances will be missed, but this emotional swan song delivers an fitting epic finale to a remarkable career.

Farruko — La 167

A seasoned veteran of the urbano landscape, Farruko has always been progressive in his mission to expand stylistic boundaries. The title of his seventh studio album is a reference to the singer/songwriter’s childhood memories: the 167 highway in the Bayamón area of Puerto Rico where he grew up.

At the same time, the album also reflects Farruko’s extensive travels across Latin America. "Pepas," the collection’s bonafide hit, is an anthemic electro-guaracha that stays close to the genre’s roots in Colombia. "Baja Cali" mixes Latin rap with the young generation of corridos that defines the present of música mexicana, and the breezy "W.F.M." (featuring Jamaican vocalist Mavado) delves into sweet dancehall vibes. On "Jíbaro," Farruko cherishes his boricua origins alongside bolero revivalist Pedro Capó. A man of the world, he sounds the happiest when he returns home.

Maluma — The Love & Sex Tape

In 2021, Maluma surprised fans by releasing #7DJ (7 Días En Jamaica), a refreshing EP of reggae infused tracks. A silky mini-album made up of eight new songs, The Love & Sex Tape finds the Medellín native delving back into the sensuous reggaetón narratives that made him famous.

A duet with fellow Colombian Feid, "Mojando Asientos" is appropriately frisky, and the self-explanatory "Nos Comemos Vivos" gains in intensity thanks to the streetwise attitude of the ubiquitous Chencho Corleone. Maluma surrenders to hedonism with abandon, reaching the natural conclusion that life is, indeed, quite beautiful ("La Vida Es Bella.") A classy ending, "Happy Birthday" incorporates the soulful groove of Afrobeats, hinting that Maluma’s brilliant creative detours will surface again in subsequent works.

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List

Air Date For 2023 GRAMMYs Announced: Taking Place On Feb. 5 In Los Angeles; GRAMMY Nominations To Be Announced Nov. 15, 2022
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Photo: Jathan Campbell

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Air Date For 2023 GRAMMYs Announced: Taking Place On Feb. 5 In Los Angeles; GRAMMY Nominations To Be Announced Nov. 15, 2022

The Recording Academy has released its key dates and deadlines ahead of the 2023 GRAMMYs, which air live on Sunday, Feb. 5, from Los Angeles. Nominations for the 2023 GRAMMYs will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

GRAMMYs/Jul 14, 2022 - 02:00 pm

The Recording Academy has released its key dates and deadlines ahead of the 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards. This year's GRAMMY nominees will be announced on Tuesday, Nov. 15, with the 2023 GRAMMYs airing live Sunday, Feb. 5, from the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The 2023 GRAMMYs will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

The 2023 GRAMMY nominations are officially here. See the complete list of nominees across all 91 GRAMMY categories.

A list of dates for the 2023 GRAMMYs process and additional details are below:

Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 – Friday, Sept. 30, 2022
Product Eligibility Period 

Monday, July 18, 2022 – Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022
Online Entry Period

Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022 – Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022
First Round Voting

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022
Nominees Announced for the 2023 GRAMMYs

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022 – Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023   
Final Round Voting

Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023
2023 GRAMMYs

Details regarding specific GRAMMY Week events will be announced in the coming months. Learn more about the upcoming awards season. Access the complete 2022 Rules and Guidelines for the 65th GRAMMY Awards.

New Categories For The 2023 GRAMMYs Announced: Songwriter Of The Year, Best Video Game Soundtrack, Best Song For Social Change & More Changes

 

The 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.

The eligibility period for the 65th GRAMMY Awards is Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 – Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. All eligible awards entries must be released within this timeframe.

The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.

Listen: All Of The American Roots Music 2023 GRAMMY Nominees In One Playlist
2023 GRAMMYs

Graphic: The Recording Academy

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Listen: All Of The American Roots Music 2023 GRAMMY Nominees In One Playlist

Celebrate Americana's best and brightest ahead of Music's Big Night on Feb. 5, 2023 with this bountiful playlist of every American Roots Music nominee at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Nov 21, 2022 - 10:53 pm

With the 2023 GRAMMY nominations list comes a cross-section of the most luminous, moving and artistically profound musical works of the year — and a major portion of them come from the Americana community.

For an example of how this sphere contributed to the musical fabric of the year, look no further than the tracks nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Americana Performance — a brand new GRAMMY category being introduced in 2023

Eric Alexandrakis' "Silver Moon (A Tribute to Michael Nesmith)" is a sumptuous tribute to the undersung talents of the late Monkee. Asleep at the Wheel's pretentiousness-lampooning "There You Go Again" — featuring Lyle Lovett — is loping, rickety fun. Blind Boys of Alabama's "The Message," featuring classical-meets-hip-hop duo Black Violin, is a reminder that God remains in control.

Rounding out the list are "You And Me on The Block," by acclaimed singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile and indie-pop band Lucius, which seems to ripple in the breeze like a wheatfield; and blues-rock great Bonnie Raitt's "Made Up Mind," which deftly traces the dissolution of a relationship.

Beyond that, there are eight American Roots Music categories at the 2023 GRAMMYs: Best American Roots Performance, Best American Roots Song, Best Americana Album, Best Bluegrass Album, Best Traditional Blues Album, Best Contemporary Blues Album, Best Folk Album, and Best Regional Roots Music Album.

Plus, "You And Me on The Block" has been nominated for a GRAMMY for Record Of The Year, Carlile's In These Silent Days is represented in the Album Of The Year category, Raitt's Just Like That is up for a GRAMMY for Song of The Year, and Molly Tuttle is nominated for a GRAMMY for Best New Artist — and that's just the General Field. 

Hear all those artists and more in this expansive playlist documenting the American Roots Music GRAMMY nominees at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Check it out on Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music — and we'll see you at Music's Biggest Night on Sunday, Feb. 5!

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Nominees List

2023 GRAMMYs: How The New Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award Inspires Positive Global Impact & Celebrates Message-Driven Music and How To Qualify
2023 GRAMMYs: Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award

Graphic: The Recording Academy

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2023 GRAMMYs: How The New Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award Inspires Positive Global Impact & Celebrates Message-Driven Music and How To Qualify

In an in-depth roundtable discussion featuring some of the highest-ranking Recording Academy leaders, learn why the new Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award is a momentous development for the music industry at large.

GRAMMYs/Oct 14, 2022 - 01:00 am

The GRAMMYs' newly announced award for Best Song For Social Change differs significantly from the other GRAMMY Award categories announced earlier this year and debuting at the upcoming 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards.

Rather than a traditional GRAMMY Award, the Best Song For Social Change award is a Special Merit Award. This means the award will be determined by a Blue Ribbon Committee and ratified by the Recording Academy Board of Trustees.

Proposed by our Recording Academy members, the new Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award now represents one of the highest honors a socially conscious song can receive. It also recognizes the songwriters creating message-driven music that responds to and addresses the social issues of our time head-on while inspiring positive global impact.

The 2023 GRAMMY nominations are officially here. See the complete list of nominees across all 91 GRAMMY categories.

To qualify or qualifications for the Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award, which recognizes a song that has had profound social influence and impact, a submitted song should contain lyrical content that: addresses a timely social issue; explores a subject impacting a community of people in need; and promotes awareness, raises consciousness, and builds empathy.

Songwriters can submit songs that meet the eligibility criteria and qualifications here now through Friday, Oct. 14.

Indeed, the honoree of this inaugural Special Merit Award will both reflect the tumultuous times in which we currently live and celebrate the potential for a brighter, fairer and more equitable tomorrow.

In an in-depth round-table discussion with Recording Academy executives and leaders — including Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. — as well as music luminaries, GRAMMY.com celebrates the new Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award and explores all the reasons why its arrival is right on time. Learn how the award came to be and why the Recording Academy's work to honor socially conscious songs is only beginning.

Quotes from these interviews have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Read More: Where, What Channel & How To Watch The Full 2023 GRAMMYs

What was the impetus to launch the Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award?

Harvey Mason jr. (CEO, the Recording Academy): As with all of our awards categories, most of our changes come from actual people who submit proposals; we felt like the proposal for this award made a lot of sense. The people in the Awards and Nominations [A&N] committee agreed with it and felt like it was an important change.

We felt it was a great opportunity to highlight music and songs that are trying to bring about change, awareness and social consciousness. I think it really shows what the Academy does, which is to shine a light on music, music people, and excellence in music. This particular award shines a light on something that's been really important throughout music history: music that's created to drive change, awareness or recognition.

Susan Stewart (Managing Director, the Recording Academy's Songwriters & Composers Wing): Songs matter. They always have. Songs help us make sense of our lives and the world, and provide an outlet for our emotions. The true social change songs — the ones that resonate so deeply as to galvanize a movement or intentional change in society — are very difficult to write. These types of songs require capturing the truth of the masses. The elected leaders that brought this proposal forward wanted to celebrate these exceptional songwriters and to encourage more of these incredible songs.

Wayna (Quiet Power Productions, GRAMMY nominee): Our Washington, D.C. Chapter tapped Maimouna Yousseff and me to lead a newly formed Social Impact Committee. Our first program was a songwriting workshop over Zoom, where we paired music veterans with GRAMMY U students and wrote original songs about social issues.

I think there comes a time in every creator's career when you have to reconnect with your "why" — whether you are trying to weather a global pandemic or the usual ups and downs of this industry. For all of us on that zoom, songs about social change were a huge part of our "why." So, we wanted to create a platform where that craft could be celebrated and preserved.

Photo Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy

Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy | Photo Emma McIntyre by Getty Images©

Maimouna Youssef a.k.a. Mumu Fresh (Former Governor, the Recording Academy's Washington, D.C. Chapter): The impetus behind launching the Best Song for Social Change Special Merit Award was to honor courageous artists who utilize their artistic genius to tell the stories of marginalized voices; bring awareness to systemic injustice and social, economic, political, and gender disparities; and to inspire radical empathy among their listeners. These artists often put their careers and even lives on the line for the greater good, and we salute them for their efforts. We also wrote the proposal for this award with young, aspiring artists in mind who often desire to speak truth to power, but fear the economic backlash that may come along with doing so. We want all artists to feel safe and celebrated, especially when their art aims to add value to humanity.

I have been doing social justice work my entire life, both through my music and philanthropic efforts. In my work activating young artists, I am often saddened by the reluctance they express in speaking their truth through their music due to their fear of poverty, financial backlash, or the lack of support they may face if they speak to social issues. My hope is that the very existence of this award gives every artist the inspiration, courage, support, and safe space they need to be true to themselves and their right to have a voice for positive social change. Artists who have had the courage and creative talent to write great songs that pushed our culture forward in a positive direction are heroes and deserve to be celebrated.

Music is a reflection of our present-day hardships and gives a voice to those who often go unheard. It is a unifier and builds community, belonging, hope, and justice. Music is the perfect ally to social change as it engages and encourages people to take action — and without action, there would be no change.

— Ryan Butler (Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, the Recording Academy)

The Best Song for Social Change Special Merit Award will be determined by a Blue Ribbon committee ratified by the Recording Academy Board of Trustees. Can you explain this a little bit for the layperson?

Ruby Marchand (Chief Awards & Industry Officer, the Recording Academy): The Special Merit Award has been around for a long time and has always been curated by what we call a Blue Ribbon Committee. The committee is populated by qualified voting members who work closely with the Recording Academy's 12 Chapters, and are suggested by the 12 Chapters to come together and make these unique, celebrated choices each year for the Lifetime Achievement Award or Trustees Award.

The committee itself goes through a very thoughtful process where there is a lot of listening, research and engagement. The committee is so diverse that people are able to contribute a unique context from a unique point of view and build a consensus that can be very powerful. The process is thoughtfully put together; it is never rushed. The legacy of what a Special Merit Award, like a Lifetime Achievement Award or a Trustees Award, signifies is unique. The Special Merit Award is separate and distinct from a GRAMMY Award. It's never to be confused with a GRAMMY category. It's a whole other process of acknowledging remarkable creators and leaders who've accomplished a lot.

In the case of Best Song For Social Change, this is the first time that a Special Merit Award is being created for a new honor that celebrates the songwriter or songwriters responsible for a song that can essentially change the world. That's really what we're talking about here. When we talk about social change, we're talking about a song that has the presence, the influence, the power to unify people — to provide that higher level of engagement and awareness.

Read More: Why The New Songwriter Of The Year GRAMMY Category Matters For The Music Industry And Creator Community

Photo of Maimouna Youssef a.k.a. Mumu Fresh

Maimouna Youssef a.k.a. Mumu Fresh | Photo: Visyoual Media Photography

The newly announced Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award comes during a time when significant social change is happening across the country and around the world. How is this award reflective of our times, when these themes are front and center?

PJ Morton (Recording Academy Trustee, four-time GRAMMY winner): Art has always reflected life. And I believe it's the artist's job to document the things that we go through and give voice to the voiceless.

Wayna: For many of us, these themes are always front and center, and songs about social change are how we've sustained ourselves when these issues aren't in the public eye. That's why supporting this proposal was a no-brainer for so many Recording Academy leaders and members. It's core to who we are and the stories we need to tell. What I hope is that these songs will be the soundtrack to all of us growing awareness and that they might bridge the gaps of understanding and empathy. If anything can, it's a great song.

Mason jr.: I think it's perfectly timed, and it's actually very apropos to what's happening in our society today. Throughout history, we've always seen music play an important role in bringing awareness to a problem or an issue or something that needs to be addressed. I think right now, especially in the last few years, we've seen a heightened awareness around social change and some of the inequities that are taking place, and you're hearing a lot of that through music.

I think it's a great time to be honoring this [award], and it's a great time to be encouraging more people to use music as a tool. It's a great time for music people to be able to have their voices heard. This is the power of music. This is why music is so important. This is why the Recording Academy is so important because we can make a difference with the things we say and the things that we create.

Youssef: This [award] directly reflects the current times and also salutes all times in history prior. There has never been a time when music didn't reflect or even influence the current state of its community.

Many times, social justice trends become popular for a moment and then people lose interest or momentum and go back to their regular distractions. We, the writers of this proposal, believe that songs that inspire and even demand that humans be the best versions of themselves are not just a passing trend, but should be the norm if we hope to see lasting change in our communities.

Music is not just a soundtrack, but a driving force that can stir our emotions and lift us up to glory or send us crashing down holding our tears in our hands. Now that's power! Music is a soul salve for the wounded, the discouraged and the disenfranchised. So yes, it is time that this powerful style of songwriting for social change, which is both a unique skill set and a courageous undertaking, be recognized, elevated, and celebrated in its own award for its historic feats.

Rico Love (Two-time GRAMMY nominee and Vice Chair of the Recording Academy Board of Trustees): I think it's important for the Recording Academy to be at the forefront of these things because we see it every day. And I think it's important for us to establish the fact that we are concerned, we want to be active, and we want to celebrate the people who shine a light on what's going on in our culture and in our world.

Body Text 2 - Best Song For Social Change Feature

Wayna (Quiet Power Productions, GRAMMY nominee) | Photo: Mekbib Tadesse

Why is it important for the Recording Academy to dedicate an entire Special Merit Award to songs reflective of social movements, social justice and equity?

Morton: I think as a leader in music, the Recording Academy sets the tone. I believe it's important for an institution as big as the Academy to show that this type of music is not only necessary, but is seen and appreciated. It's at the core of our mission and what we do.

Wayna: Music is an incredibly effective communicator. It cuts past all of our preconceived ideas and goes straight to the heart, and that's the inspiration behind any kind of change. As music creators, this is our superpower. More than whatever power we have individually, we have the potential, through music, to persuade others to use their power as well. That's how real change happens: not when one person does something big, but when a lot of people do something small.

JC Losada "MrSonic" (GRAMMY & Latin GRAMMY winner, New York Chapter Governor): Some of the biggest and most iconic songs in pop music history have either been the cause for social change or have been caused by social change. As our Recording Academy members and community ramp up efforts to amplify the message of inclusiveness, diversity and social awareness, this award couldn't come at a better time. From now on, releases of new music that have a message of social awareness will have an opportunity to be recognized by the Academy in their own award, regardless of the genre or music style.

Rico Love: We're just doing our part to make sure that we acknowledge those creatives who are passionate about this because so many are.

Common (Three-time GRAMMY-winning artist): It's important that the Trustees decided to come up with an award for music that is based around social justice and equality because it motivates the artists to actually do things that do have substance. Let's face it, as artists, we love to achieve. A GRAMMY is the highest achievement in music. To receive an award for something that has substance and to be motivated to create music that is from the heart, but also still gets recognized by the highest Academy in music, you win in so many ways.

It's a great time to be encouraging more people to use music as a tool. It's a great time for music people to be able to have their voices heard. This is the power of music. This is why music is so important. That's why the Recording Academy is so important, because we can make a difference with the things we say and the things that we create.

— Harvey Mason jr. (CEO, the Recording Academy)

Music has soundtracked the fights for freedom, equity and social change throughout the decades. How does music directly influence and impact social change?

Morton: Music has always been a unifier; it's the universal language. Sometimes a song can put collective thoughts into a three-minute song. Then there's something everybody can sing together in unity. That's the power of music.

Ryan Butler (Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, the Recording Academy): Music and social change go hand in hand, and music has directly influenced and impacted social change. Music can be a form of protest, a way to grieve, and has a universal healing capacity. Music influences and gives power to the people and is an expression of feelings, whether that's love, hate, anger, pleasure, sadness, or happiness. Music is a reflection of our present-day hardships and gives a voice to those who often go unheard. It is a unifier and builds community, belonging, hope, and justice. Music is the perfect ally to social change as it engages and encourages people to take action, — and without action, there would be no change.

Rico Love: Some of the biggest artists in the world have devoted their life to philanthropy. Historically, there have been songs that have supported such causes. Think about Bob Dylan. Think about John Lennon. Think about all of these creators who have devoted their lives to change.

Throughout the years, there have been many songs that have started a conversation and forced people to see themselves. I wouldn't have known about hungry, starving children in other third-world countries had it not been for Michael Jackson's "Heal the World" when I was a kid or "We Are the World" when I was growing up. Hearing those songs, understanding that these things exist. It's important for us to shine a light on people who don't know. Music does that and has historically done that.

Common: Music has directly impacted social change. Throughout the years, just being in Decades, getting to be a part of Selma really taught me how much music had been a part of the civil rights movement. Those songs they sang while they marched were not only fuel for them, but it was speaking to the people and getting the messages across to people who may not have been aware. They started hearing what the civil rights leaders and the community who were participating were singing about and understood it from another perspective. It also just gave them motivation as they dealt with all these ills that America was delivering to Black people during those times.

And we've seen it, obviously in hip-hop culture, become part of the social change as far as speaking up to police brutality and issues that we deal with within the inner city. Music has a direct impact on social change. So it's important that the artists feel that value and duty. And as Nina Simone says, [it's] "the duty of the artist to reflect the times."

Read More: Behind The GRAMMY: Why The New Best Spoken Word Poetry Album GRAMMY Category Is A Global Victory For Lovers Of Language

What does the addition of the new Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award say about the Recording Academy's recognition and support of the creativity and importance of social change and social justice in music?

Youssef: I think this new addition says that the Recording Academy is committed to the needs and concerns of its membership body. This award says that the Recording Academy is serious about equity and inclusion and understands the need for marginalized voices to have a platform to be heard through their music. The Academy continues to be a leader in championing the music community at large.

Photo of Ryan Butler, Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the Recording Academy

Ryan Butler, Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the Recording Academy | Photo: Aaron Doggett for Visyoual Media

How would you like to see the Recording Academy continue to champion social change through song and music in the years to come?

Youssef: I would love to see the Recording Academy continue to make and hold space for this type of music. It's important to preserve this legacy of songs for social change. We want to raise awareness that this award exists and let artists know how to submit their work for consideration.

We found that many artists have never written songs about social issues for a number of reasons, [like] the lack of support or fear of backlash. It's very difficult to balance the information of a complex concept with all the other creative nuances and stylistic decisions a writer has to make in order to actually have the song be great. Songs for social change are a unique art form that should be championed and supported for years to come both as a social movement and an artistic discipline. We would love to see more support for these types of programs in our [Chapters].

Butler: The Recording Academy will continue to champion social change through song and music. In the past two years, our DEI [Diversity, Equity & Inclusion] team has made major strides in the music community. We partnered with Color Of Change to identify key opportunities to drive and influence social change in the music industry and dedicated to building power for Black music creators and professionals. This work spanned several strategies: a membership campaign focusing on the Black music community to drive new voting members to the Academy; an industry-wide diversity and inclusion summit; partnership in advocacy and legislative efforts; as well as the first-ever inclusion rider implemented at this past 64th GRAMMY Awards show to ensure equity at every level, on and off the stage.

We also launched the Black Music Collective, an advisory group of music leaders, to identify emerging opportunities and ways to drive Black representation in the music industry. The DEI team announced a partnership with GLAAD in 2022 to further promote and advance LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation. We have also partnered with industry leaders including Amazon Music for the HBCU Love Tour and scholarship fund, #TheShowMustBePaused, and monthly sessions with Universal, Warner, and Sony Music groups. The work is ongoing and will continue, but social change through music is vital to a just, evolving world.

Wayna: Becoming a truly global organization is key to all these issues. I think the more the Recording Academy is able to empower creators from around the world — expand their access and remove the barriers preventing them from participating at the highest levels of this industry — the more those creators will advocate for their communities and serve as a template for their success.

Rico Love: I'm the Chair of the Black Music Collective. And as Chair, I've created many initiatives that are not just going to be about awards. It's not just going to be about putting on a nice suit and accepting something. No, it's about going out into the community and making a change. I think it's more than just an award, it's our job, it's our duty.

We are a non-profit organization. We are for the people. We're not here to just celebrate music creatives on one day. We are here, passionate about helping people and music creatives who need us … It's important for us to get out there and do the work as it comes to social injustice as well.

New Categories For The 2023 GRAMMYs Announced: Songwriter Of The Year, Best Video Game Soundtrack, Best Song For Social Change & More Changes

 

The 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on Paramount+ at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.

The eligibility period for the 65th GRAMMY Awards is Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 – Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. All eligible awards entries must be released within this timeframe.

The Recording Academy and GRAMMY.com do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.