Will the Obamas Become the Second 'First Couple' With Matching Grammys?

Michelle Obama
Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

Michelle Obama at The 61st Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2019. 

All the presidents (except Richard Nixon, whose nomination was hardly an honor) and both of the first ladies who have received Grammy nods have been Democrats.

In February, former first lady Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance at the 61st annual Grammy Awards. She was part of all-star female lineup that kicked off the show, appearing alongside first-time Grammy host Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jennifer Lopez.

Obama could return to the Grammy Awards in January to pick up her first Grammy, for best spoken word album (includes poetry, audio books and storytelling) for her audiobook, Becoming.

Her husband, Barack Obama, has won twice in that category, both times for audiobooks released while he was a U.S. senator. He won for Dreams From My Father (2005) and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (2007). (He was the first future president to receive a Grammy nomination or award.)

If Michelle Obama wins, the Obamas will become the second presidential couple, following the Clintons, with matching Grammys.

Bill Clinton has won twice, for Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf/Beintus: Wolf Tracks (2003) and My Life (2004). The former album, on which he teamed with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and screen legend Sophia Loren, won best spoken word album for children. This marks the only time a president or first lady has been nominated outside of the best spoken word album category.

Hillary Rodham Clinton won for It Takes a Village (1996). She attended the Grammys, held that year at Madison Square Garden in New York, to pick up her award.

Though he was just a one-term president, Jimmy Carter has amassed more Grammy nominations (nine) and more Grammy Awards (three) than any other president. He has won for Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis (2006), A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety (2015) and Faith - A Journey for All (2018).

John F. Kennedy was the first president to receive a Grammy nomination, for The Kennedy Wit. The album was released in 1964, the year following his assassination. It lost to another Kennedy tribute album, BBC Tribute to John F. Kennedy by the cast of the BBC series That Was the Week That Was. Yet another Kennedy memorial, John Fitzgerald Kennedy—As We Remember Him, won the 1965 award. But the late president was personally nominated only for The Kennedy Wit.

Harry Truman was also honored posthumously for The Truman Tapes, which was released in 1977, five years after his death.

Richard Nixon was the first living president to receive a Grammy nomination. He was nominated, along with his interviewer David Frost, for The Nixon Interviews With David Frost. The recording was released in 1978, four years after his resignation.

All the presidents (except Nixon, whose nomination was hardly an honor) and both the first ladies who have received Grammy nominations have been Democrats. This suggests that the musicians and other creatives in the Recording Academy lean left politically.

Note: There have been other Grammy-nominated or Grammy-winning projects that bear the names of presidents, but these are the only ones where the presidents themselves were nominated.

2020 Grammy Awards


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