Saturday, 25 January 2014

Let's Grab a Grammy : Part 2

Tomorrow the Grammy awards for 2013 will be presented at a glittering ceremony in Los Angeles. Two days ago I gave a brief look at the lgbt Grammy winners of the early years and today I bring the story up to date and look at some of the popular music winners of recent years. As mentioned last time, many lgbt artists had been nominated for Grammys without winning one. So, as last time, I’ll just mention winners not nominees.

Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin, members of Prince’s backing band “the Revolution”, were the first lgbt pop winners. In fact they won 2 with Prince for their 1984 sound-track album “Purple Rain”, one for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture, and another for Best Rock Performance by a Group with Vocals.

Elton John came next. Surprisingly, Elton’s first Grammy was for a collaboration. He, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder won Best Pop Performance by a Duo of Group with Vocals of 1986 with “That’s What Friends Are For”. Even though it wasn’t written by or for them, the famous foursome recorded the song as a charity fund-raiser for the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Even more surprisingly, Elton didn’t receive another Grammy until 1992, when he won Best Instrumental Composition of 1991 with “Basque”.

“That’s What Friends Are For” was the first of several recordings with links to AIDS that won Grammys. In 1992, two Grammys were awarded for John Corigliano’s “Symphony No.1” – Best Orchestral Performance, and Best Contemporary Composition for John himself.

Inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, Corigliano used his composition to remember friends and colleagues who had died from AIDS, including extending an improvisation between himself and a friend from a tape recording he made several decades earlier. I hope to write more about this and other AIDS-inspired music on World AIDS Day.

As with Elton, George Michael’s first Grammy was for a collaboration – Best R+B Performance of 1987 by a Duo of Group with Vocals - with his duet with Aretha Franklin “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”. Fortunately George Michael didn’t have to wait as long as Elton for his first solo Grammy. The next year “Faith” won Best Album of the Year, the first in this category to be won by an lgbt solo artist.

Looking through the various genres of music and categories in which the Grammys are awarded I’ve compiled the following list of the first lgbt winners in each category.
Best Alternative Music Album of 1991
“Out of Time” by R.E.M. (with Michael Stipe)
Best Rock Vocal Performance Female of 1992
“Ain’t It Heavy”, Melissa Etheridge
Best Musical Show Album of 1993
“Tommy”, The Who (words and lyrics by Pete Townshend)
Best Long Form Music Video of 1998
America Masters – Lou Reed Rock and Roll Heart”, Lou Reed
Best Album of 1999, and
Best Rock Album of 1999 (to producer)
Clive Davis, producer, for “Supernatural” by Santana
Best Song of 2003, and
Best R+B Album of 2003
“Dance With My Father”, Luther Vandross
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album of 2003
“A Wonderful World”, k d lang and Tony Bennett
Best Rock Album of 2004 (to performers)
“American Idiot”, Green Day (with Billie Joe Armstrong)
Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group of 2004
“Let’s Get It Started”, Black Eyed Peas (with Fergie)
Best Dance Recording of 2009
“Poker Face”, Lady Gaga
Best Electronic/Dance Album of 2009
“The Fame”, Lady Gaga
Best Metal Performance of 2009
“Dissident Aggressor”, Judas Priest (with Rob Halford)
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance of 2010
“Bad Romance”, Lady Gaga
Best Pop Vocal Album of 2010
“The Fame Monster”, Lady Gaga
Best Rap/Song Collaboration of 2011
“All of the Lights”, Fergie
Best Urban Contemporary Album of 2012
“Channel Orange”, Frank Ocean

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