The Grammys have given an award for best new artist in all but two years since the awards got underway in 1958. They didn’t have the category that first year, and they inexplicably dropped it in 1966 — which, ironically, was a good year for new artists. Two, the much-loved the Mamas and the Papas and one-hit-wonders New Vaudeville Band, landed record of the year noms that year.
Over the years, many best new artist winners have set records — both good and bad (we’ll get to Milli Vanilli). Here are 26 of the most notable.
Oldest solo artist to win: Sheryl Crow (1994). She was 33. Yola, one of this year’s long-shot nominees, is 36 and could potentially set a new record. Note: Ward Swingle, the leader of the Swingle Singers, was 36 when the group won the 1963 award.
Winner who died in the shortest amount of time after winning: Amy Winehouse (2007). The talented but troubled artist died less than 3-1/2 years after taking the award over such artists as Taylor Swift and Paramore.
First artist from outside the U.S. to win: The Swingle Singers (1963). The jazz/pop vocal group was formed in France.
First rock artist to win and first act from England to win: The Beatles (1964).
First female artist to win and first country artist to win: Bobbie Gentry (1967). Note: Gentry straddled the line between country and pop, but her debut album, Ode to Billie Joe, headed Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart for three weeks.
First Hispanic artist to win: José Feliciano (1968).
First artist nominated for best new artist whose album was recorded in Spanish: Rosalía (2019).
First duo to win: Carpenters (1970).
First African-American artist to win: Natalie Cole (1975).
First hip-hop artist to win: Arrested Development (1992).
First jazz artist to win: Esperanza Spalding (2010).
First alternative rock artist to win: Bon Iver (2011).
Largest ensemble to win: Bon Iver (2011). Eight group members received the award. Note: The Swingle Singers also had eight members, but the award went only to their arranger and choral director, Ward Swingle. Tank and the Bangas, another of this year’s long-shot nominees, have nine members.
Best new artist winner who has won the most career Grammys: Paul McCartney (1964, as part of The Beatles). McCartney has won 18 Grammys. Not counting group members: Alicia Keys (2001) and Adele (2008). Both women have won 15 Grammys.
Best new artist winner who has received the most career Grammy nominations: McCartney. He has amassed 78 noms. Not counting group members: Mariah Carey (1990). Carey has received 34 noms.
Artists who were nominated for best new artist twice: David Crosby and Carl Palmer. Crosby was part of the Byrds (1965 nominees) and Crosby, Stills and Nash (1969 winners). Palmer was part of Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1971 nominees) and Asia (1982 nominees).
Only non-vocalists to win: Comedian Bob Newhart (1960), pianists Peter Nero (1961) and Hamlisch (1974).
Only new artist winner who had won a Grammy previously: Hill (1998). Fugees won two Grammys in 1996. Note: Current rules would not allow a former winner to compete for best new artist.
New artist winners with the most total nominations that year: Hill (1998). She had 10 total noms.
Only artists who have won both best new artist and album of the year the same night: Newhart (1960), Christopher Cross (1980), Hill (1998) and Jones (2002). Eilish, Lil Nas X and Lizzo are nominated for both awards this year.
Only artists who lost best new artist yet won album of the year that night: Vaughn Meader (1962) and Alanis Morissette (1995). Meader lost the new artist award to Robert Goulet. Morissette lost to Hootie & the Blowfish.
Only winner whose award was rescinded: Milli Vanilli (1989).