Michelle Obama’s audiobook version of her bestselling memoir, Becoming, is up for best spoken word at this year’s Grammy Awards, and the book itself is full of fond memories of the music that shaped the former First Lady’s life.
In the first chapter, shared in its audiobook version below exclusively on Billboard, Obama remembers her grandfather, Southside, who sparked her lifelong love for music.
“Music seemed to be an antidote to his worries, a way to relax and crowd them out. When Southside had a payday for his carpentry work, he’d sometimes splurge and buy himself a new album,” she wrote.
“His love for music was infectious,” she continued. “Once Southside moved to our neighborhood, I’d pass whole afternoons at his house, pulling albums from the shelf at random and putting them on his stereo, each one its own immersing adventure. Even though I was small, he put no restrictions on what I could touch.”
Obama recalled Southside gifting her her first album, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book, “which I’d keep at his house on a special shelf he designated for my favorite records.”
“If I was hungry, he’d make me a milkshake or fry us a whole chicken while we listened to Aretha or Miles or Billie. To me, Southside was as big as heaven. And heaven, as I envisioned it, had to be a place full of jazz.”
Since its release in late 2018, Becoming was Penguin Random House Audio’s bestselling title of both 2018 and 2019, and has been on the New York Times Audio Nonfiction Best Seller List for 14 months total, including 7 months at No. 1.
Listen to the Becoming audio book snippet below, and watch the Grammys on Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.