Black Sounds Beautiful: Tracing Miguel's Journey From Sleeper Success To Mastering His Own Brand Of R&B

Photo: Jeff Vespa/WireImage


Black Sounds Beautiful: Tracing Miguel's Journey From Sleeper Success To Mastering His Own Brand Of R&B

GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter Miguel has carved out his own, genre-bending lane in R&B. In this episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, revisit the storied career that brought him to where he is today.

GRAMMYs/Sep 19, 2022 - 07:03 pm

Miguel Jontel Pimentel — aka Miguel — put out his full-length studio debut, All I Want is You, in 2010, but his relationship with R&B actually dates back much further.

The singer-songwriter first fell in love with music as a child growing up in San Pedro, California, thanks in part to his parents' eclectic tastes.

From his mother, Miguel heard classic R&B; his dad introduced him to styles like hip-hop, jazz and classic rock. All those influences would inform his rapidly formulating musical identity, which he began to pursue as a young teen.

Miguel didn't find immediate success after he put out All I Want is You. In fact, the album made only a modest impression when it first came out, but it proved to have staying power. Although it fell off the Billboard chart for three weeks, it crept back up onto the chart to become a sleeper hit, thanks in part to the vivid, omnivorous musical range and identity Miguel established on singles like "Sure Thing," "Quickie" and "Girls Like You."

All I Want is You established Miguel's gripping presence in the industry; by the time he was making its follow-up, Kaleidoscope Dream, two years later, the singer had a crisper perception of his role in the R&B sphere.

"Somewhere along the way… the genre became a stereotype, and I've never been one for stereotypes," Miguel told Billboard at the time, pointing out that his father is Mexican and his mother is Black.

"I've been in the middle my entire life, having to make decisions as to who and what I am. It was really important for me to stand out," he continued. "I wanted the music to stand out that way."

Miguel not only stood out — he also thrived as an R&B act operating at the top of the format, but also creating his own lane. In 2013, he won his first GRAMMY for Best R&B Song, for "Adorn." (To date, it’s his only GRAMMY win — though he’s earned 12 nominations.)

Press play on the video above for a deeper look into Miguel's boundary-breaking career, and keep checking for more episodes of Black Sounds Beautiful.

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Jay Z Tops 56th GRAMMY Nominations With Nine

Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Justin Timberlake, and Pharrell Williams earn seven nods each; other top nominees include Daft Punk, Drake, Lorde, Bruno Mars, and Taylor Swift

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

Nominations for the 56th GRAMMY Awards were announced tonight by The Recording Academy and reflected one of the most diverse years with the Album Of The Year category alone representing the rap, pop, country and dance/electronica genres, as determined by the voting members of The Academy. Once again, nominations in select categories for the annual GRAMMY Awards were announced on primetime television as part of "The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music's Biggest Night," a one-hour CBS entertainment special broadcast live from Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.

Jay Z tops the nominations with nine; Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Justin Timberlake, and Pharrell Williams each garner seven nods; Drake and mastering engineer Bob Ludwig are up for five awards.

"This year's nominations reflect the talented community of music makers who represent some of the highest levels of excellence and artistry of the year in their respective fields," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "Once again, The Academy's awards process and its voting membership have produced an impressive list of nominations across various genres promising music fans a spectacular show filled with stellar performances and unique 'GRAMMY Moments.' We are off to a great start and look forward to GRAMMY Sunday as Music's Biggest Night takes the stage."

Following are the nominations in the General Field categories: 

Album Of The Year:
The Blessed Unrest — Sara Bareilles
Random Access Memories — Daft Punk
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City — Kendrick Lamar
The Heist — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Red — Taylor Swift

Record Of The Year:
"Get Lucky" — Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams
"Radioactive" — Imagine Dragons
"Royals" — Lorde
"Locked Out Of Heaven" — Bruno Mars
"Blurred Lines" — Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams

Song Of The Year:
"Just Give Me A Reason" — Jeff Bhasker, Pink & Nate Ruess, songwriters (Pink Featuring Nate Ruess)
"Locked Out Of Heaven" — Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine & Bruno Mars, songwriters (Bruno Mars)
"Roar" — Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry & Henry Walter, songwriters (Katy Perry)
"Royals" — Joel Little & Ella Yelich O'Connor, songwriters (Lorde)
"Same Love" — Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert & Ryan Lewis, songwriters (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Mary Lambert)

Best New Artist:
James Blake
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Kacey Musgraves
Ed Sheeran

Following is a sampling of nominations in the GRAMMY Awards' other 29 Fields:

For Best Pop Solo Performance, the nominees are "Brave" by Sara Bareilles; "Royals" by Lorde; "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars; "Roar" by Katy Perry; and "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake.

The nominees for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance are "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams; "Just Give Me A Reason" by Pink Featuring Nate Ruess; "Stay" by Rihanna Featuring Mikky Ekko; "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. & Pharrell Williams; and "Suit & Tie" by Justin Timberlake & Jay Z.

For Best Dance/Electronica Album, the nominees are Random Access Memories by Daft Punk; Settle by Disclosure; 18 Months by Calvin Harris; Atmosphere by Kaskade; and A Color Map Of The Sun by Pretty Lights.

The Best Rock Performance nominees are "Always Alright" by Alabama Shakes; "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" by David Bowie; "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons; "Kashmir (Live)" by Led Zeppelin; "My God Is The Sun" by Queens Of The Stone Age; and "I'm Shakin'" by Jack White.

For Best Alternative Music Album, the nominees are The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You by Neko Case; Trouble Will Find Me by The National; Hesitation Marks by Nine Inch Nails; Lonerism by Tame Impala; Modern Vampires Of The City by Vampire Weekend.

The nominees for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration are "Power Trip" by J.Cole Featuring Miguel; "Part II (On The Run)" by Jay Z Featuring Beyoncé; "Holy Grail" by Jay Z Featuring Justin Timberlake; "Now Or Never" by Kendrick Lamar Featuring Mary J. Blige; and "Remember You" by Wiz Khalifa Featuring The Weeknd.

For Best Rap Album, the nominees are Nothing Was The Same by Drake; Magna Carta…Holy Grail by Jay Z; Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by Kendrick Lamar; The Heist by Macklemore  & Ryan Lewis; and Yeezus by Kanye West.

The Best Country Album nominees are Night Train by Jason Aldean; Two Lanes Of Freedom by Tim McGraw; Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves; Based On A True Story by Blake Shelton; and Red by Taylor Swift.

The nominees for Best Americana Album are Old Yellow Moon by Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell; Love Has Come For You by Steve Martin & Edie Brickell; Buddy And Jim by Buddy Miller And Jim Lauderdale; One True Vine by Mavis Staples; and Songbook by Allen Toussaint.

This year's Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical nominations go to Rob Cavallo, Dr. Luke, Ariel Rechtshaid, Jeff Tweedy, and Pharrell Williams.

This year's GRAMMY Awards process registered more than 22,000 submissions over a 12-month eligibility period (Oct. 1, 2012 – Sept. 30, 2013). GRAMMY ballots for the final round of voting will be mailed on Dec. 11 to the voting members of The Recording Academy. They are due back to the accounting firm of Deloitte by Jan. 8, 2014, when they will be tabulated and the results kept secret until the 56th GRAMMY telecast.

The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be held Jan. 26, 2014, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and once again will be broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards are produced by AEG Ehrlich Ventures for The Recording Academy. Ken Ehrlich is executive producer, and Louis J. Horvitz is director.

For updates and breaking news, visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook

Black Sounds Beautiful: Five Years After His Death, Prince’s Genius Remains Uncontainable
Black Sounds Beautiful: Prince


Black Sounds Beautiful: Five Years After His Death, Prince’s Genius Remains Uncontainable

In the latest episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, explore Prince Rogers Nelson’s GRAMMYs legacy and consider how—five years after his passing—we’ve only scratched the surface of his bottomless talent.

GRAMMYs/Jun 19, 2021 - 02:05 am

Some artists celebrate Black genius pointedly through their lyrics and public statements. Others like Prince, simply live it by being exceptional.

Not that the Purple One, who passed away in 2016, didn’t acknowledge race. In the midst of acrimony with a major record label, he scrawled “SLAVE” on his face. He called his name change to the infamous “Love Symbol” “the first step I have taken towards the ultimate goal of emancipation.”

In the end, though, he knew his inimitable writing, production work and guitar playing would be his true statement to the world. attacking others for their immutable characteristics wasn’t the answer. 

“Nothing more ugly in the whole wide world than INTOLERANCE (between) Black, white, red, yellow, boy or girl,” he wrote in his personal archives. (He punctuated it with an extra “INTOLERANCE” at the end.)

In the latest episode of Black Sounds Beautiful, take a brief tour through Prince’s astonishing history as a GRAMMY winner and nominee. Without cheating, try to guess how many wins and nominations he earned before pressing play.

Then, when you’re done, chase it with one of those recent boxed sets of 1999 or Sign o’ the Times. Or, if you’re pressed for time, peep his outrageous, spotlight-stealing guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” (Seriously, you’ll be glad you did.)

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R&B Shines On In 2012

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

To borrow from R&B/pop princess Rihanna, the R&B genre made sure to "shine bright like a diamond" in 2012, making this year one of the strongest in recent memory.

The year began on a somber note for R&B fans with losses of two iconic figures: Don Cornelius and Whitney Houston. Cornelius, the creator and host of the long-running series "Soul Train," and Houston, one of the biggest pop stars of all time, both passed away in February but their respective legacies live on.

On a more positive note, we celebrated the return of D'Angelo, who came back to the stage for the first time in almost a decade for a European tour in January before joining Mary J. Blige on the road later in the year. D'Angelo debuted a handful of new songs for live audiences that set blogs and social media on fire when fan videos inevitably made their way online.

One of the biggest releases of the first quarter came from the Robert Glasper Experiment. Black Radio blurred the lines between R&B, soul, hip-hop, and jazz and featured collaborations with Erykah Badu, Ledisi, Chrisette Michele, Musiq Soulchild, Stokley Williams of Mint Condition, and the first daughter of soul, Lalah Hathaway.

Mixtapes once again proved a savvy way for artists to get their music to the public and gain fans in the process. R&B ingénue Elle Varner set the stage for her debut album, Perfectly Imperfect, with the well-received mixtape Conversational Lush, introducing new fans to her breakout song "Refill." Miguel released his Art Dealer Chic mixtape in three parts, starting with the single "Adorn," which heightened anticipation for his sophomore album, Kaleidoscope Dream. After sparking interest in 2011 with his Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape, Frank Ocean made headlines with the release of his official first album, Channel Orange, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

GRAMMY winners Alicia Keys and R. Kelly, and Bobby Womack, Eric Benét, Mint Condition, and Angie Stone also dropped new singles and albums in 2012. Usher released Looking 4 Myself, which was led by the single "Climax" and became his fourth No. 1 album. Brandy delighted fans with the release of her long-awaited sixth studio album, Two Eleven, which highlighted her signature vocals on songs such as the flirtatiously fun "Put It Down" featuring Chris Brown and the fan-favorite "Wildest Dreams." GRAMMY winner Faith Evans starred in the reality series "R&B Divas" and released an album of the same name with her co-stars Nicci Gilbert, Syleena Johnson, Keke Wyatt, and Monifah Carter.

Both projects from Brandy and Evans were tributes to Whitney Houston. Two Eleven signified not only Brandy's birth date but the date on which Houston died earlier this year. The premise of "R&B Divas" was to chronicle the recording of the compilation album in Houston's honor.

Coupled with the recent TV special "We Will Always Love You: A GRAMMY Salute To Whitney Houston," these loving homages provided lasting tributes to one of music's brightest diamonds that ever did shine.



Beyoncé, Miguel, Frank Ocean, Robert Glasper Experiment, And Usher Win In the R&B Field

A closer look at the winners in the R&B Field categories for the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

You've seen the list of winners, now take a closer look at the artists who won in the R&B Field categories for the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards. First-time winners include Robert Glasper Experiment, Miguel and Frank Ocean. Beyoncé and Usher added to their respective GRAMMY-winning totals.

Best R&B Performance
Usher, "Climax"

Usher won one GRAMMY this year, bringing his career total to eight.

Best Traditional R&B Performance
Beyoncé, "Love On Top"

Beyoncé won one GRAMMY this year, bringing her career total to 17.

Best R&B Song
"Adorn " (Miguel, performer; Miguel Pimentel, songwriter)

Miguel won one GRAMMY this year, marking the first GRAMMY win of his career.

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Frank Ocean, Channel Orange

Ocean won two GRAMMYs this year, marking the first GRAMMY wins of his career.

Best R&B Album
Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio

Robert Glasper Experiment won one GRAMMY this year, marking the first GRAMMY of their career.