When it comes to the Grammys, winning one of the Big Four categories is an artist’s dream — especially when it comes at the very beginning. Once a best new artist win is under your belt, you can officially be introduced as a “Grammy-winning musician” for the rest of your career.
So how has the honor affected the most recent champs? We’re taking a look back at the best new artist winners from 2010-2017 to see what they’re up to now and how the Grammy influenced their path.
2010: Zac Brown Band
Though they were active since 2002, the Zac Brown Band won the best new artist award at the 2010 Grammys, where they also received best country album and best country performance nominations. Since receiving the honor, the Atlanta-based country band has been steadily releasing new albums and have even racked up six more Grammy nominations — two of which they went on to win.
2011: Esperanza Spalding
After being the first jazz musician to win best new artist (much to the dismay of Beliebers everywhere), Esperanza Spalding went on to earn four other Grammy noms — three of which she won in 2013 and 2014 after releasing two more albums. In 2017, Spalding live-streamed her recording process for her sixth studio album, Exposure. She streamed for 77 hours before releasing the CD-only copy of the album, with a limited number of 7,777 physical copies, each signed by Spalding herself.
2012: Bon Iver
After winning the Grammy for best alternative music album, Bon Iver also nabbed the best new artist prize. The Justin Vernon project was then known for quiet folk songs but made a switch in 2016 to colorful electronic- and R&B-influenced tracks for their third studio album 22, A Million. The album was praised by critics, and the group went on to snag two more Grammy noms.
After a breakthrough year, pop band Fun. won best new artist and song of the year in 2013, following the release of their second album Some Nights in 2012. The group consisted of Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff. Over the next couple of years, the band teased new music by performing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. However, in 2015, the band announced on their Facebook page that they would be taking time off to work on other projects. The group insisted that it was not a breakup, but their untitled third album has yet to be released. Instead, Ruess went on to release his solo album, Dost wanted to focusing on scoring, while Antonoff continued with his band Bleachers, and went on to produce albums like Taylor Swift’s Reputation and Lorde’s Melodrama.
2014: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis had a gigantic 2014, earning not only the best new artist Grammy, but also winning best rap album for The Heist and best rap song and rap performance for their mega-hit ”Thrift Shop.” The duo went on to release This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, which received mixed reviews from critics. After performing together for the next year, the duo confirmed they would be taking a hiatus in June. Since then, Macklemore has gone on to release his solo album Gemini in September 2017. Lewis went on to co-write and produce Kesha’s single “Praying,” which received a Grammy nod at this year’s ceremony.
2015: Sam Smith
In 2015, Sam Smith was nominated for six Grammys at the 57th annual ceremony. He took home four of those awards, including best new artist, record of the year, song of the year and best pop vocal album. Smith recorded and released his second album, The Thrill of It All, in 2017, which was met with positive reviews and topped the Billboard 200. The album was released after the Grammy eligibility date, so Smith does have a chance to rack up more nominations at the 2019 Grammy awards.
2016: Meghan Trainor
Despite being nominated for two Grammys the year before, Meghan Trainor was nominated for best new artist at the 2016 Grammy Awards, which she won against artists like Tori Kelly and Sam Hunt. Since winning the award, Trainor has gone on to release a second album, Thank You, which debuted at No.1 on the Billboard 200. Trainor is currently a judge on The Four. In addition to her musical endeavors, Trainor announced she was engaged in December.
2017: Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper managed to earn seven nominations at the 2017 Grammys, including best rap performance and best rap album. He won three of those awards, including best new artist and best rap album for Coloring Book, which was the first streaming-only album to win a Grammy. Since being awarded the best new artist honor, Chance has been active in social activism and politics, frequently donating his money and time to the students in his hometown of Chicago.