Even though many of us may not see the Grammys as the height of one’s career, it is indisputable that they are an influential event in the music industry. However, according to a study from Berklee College of Music and Arizona State University (2021), just 23% of the nominees for its televised 2021 ceremony identified as women or gender minorities. While that percentage is very small, it used to be even smaller, and it is a reminder every year of the importance of empowering women and gender expansive people to pursue music at a professional level. We hope to see representation not only in categories such as best performances and records, but as producers and engineers as well. The chair of the Berklee College of Music board of trustees, Susan Whitehead, mentions: “The music industry is in need of a broad gender study that examines women representation beyond today’s popular music. We look forward to working with the Recording Academy to develop a strong methodology for this study and to authentically address the lack of women representation in the music industry.”
To celebrate the people who have paved the way, we curated a compilation of events that marked important milestones for women and gender minorities in the history of the Grammys.
Most Grammys Won
The artist that has won the most Grammys in history is Beyoncé, with thirty two. Not only has Beyonce won the most Grammys in history, but she has won the most Grammys for consecutive studio albums, with 8 consecutive awards for eight consecutive studio albums. She is also tied with her husband, Jay-Z for receiving the most Grammy nominations of all time. Beyonce has been a role model for the Queer and Black community, and with her immense amount of dedication to her craft, all her wins are well deserved.
Youngest artist to win Album of the Year
Billie Ellish is the youngest artist to win the award for Album of the year, at eighteen years old for When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? In 2020. Billie Eilish recorded her album at home with her brother, and is a great example of how a home recording setup is more than enough to take an artist far.
First Transgender Woman to Win A Grammy
Wendy Carlos was the first transgender person to win not only one but three Grammys in one night for classical album of the year, best classical performance, and best classical recording engineering. In a 2020 piece about her career, The Guardian called her “arguably the most important living figure in the history of electronic music.”
First Woman to Win Best Rap Album
In a genre where women have also been underrepresented, Lauryn Hill won a Grammy for Best Rap Album with the Fugees in 1997. Also, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill became the first rap album to win album of the year in 1999. Lauryn Hill represents not only a win for women in hip hop, but also for the hip hop world as a whole.
First Woman to Win Engineer of The Year
In 1999, Trina Shoemaker became the first woman to win Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical) for Sheryl Crow's The Globe Sessions. The Grammys still have a long way to go for underrepresented genders when it comes to engineering and tech-related roles in the industry, but we love to see the progress being made.
Helmore, E. (2021) ‘ Grammy awards body to study women’s representation in music business’ The Guardian