The World According to Keitho

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And the Grammy goes to…

Posted by keithosaunders on February 25, 2011

Two weeks ago the bassist and vocalist, Esperanza Spalding won the Grammy award for Best New Artist, beating out, among others, the teen heart-throb, Justin Bieber.  This was a huge upset, since Spalding is not a corporately-backed pop star, but a jazz musician. 

I found myself wondering if any other jazz musicians had won that award.  The answer is no.  I did, however, find some interesting tidbits while perusing the list of past winners and nominees.  Here are a few of the highlights.  (and lowlights)

Bobby Darin won the inaugural award in 1959, beating out Mavis Rivers.  That name probably doesn’t mean that much to you, but it does to me.  Back when I was in junior high school I was friends with a very talented saxophonist named Matt Catingub, whose mother is Mavis Rivers.  I remember him telling me that his Mom was a well-known jazz singer.  This was still a few years before I began studying and listening to jazz, so at that time it didn’t make as big an impression on me as it would have a few years later.  I do remember meeting her, as well as her husband, who was the famous vibraphonist, Red Norvo. 

For some reason the award wasn’t given in 1960 — I guess there were only old artists that year.  In 1961 Bob Newhart won and as far as I can tell he is the only comedian to take home this award.  

Bob Goulet won in 1963.  OK…

In 1965 the Beatles took the award.  They beat out a pair of incredibly talented Brazilians, Astrud Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, as well as Morgana King.  Not too shabby.

1970 saw Crosby, Stills, and Nash winning the award over Led Zeppelin and Chicago, and in 1971 The Carpenters beat out Elton John, Melba Moore, Anne Murray and, are you ready for this…The Partridge Family.

Carly Simon took the prize in ’72 over ELP and Bill Withers.  I’m sorry, Academy, but Bill has to win that award.

Oh my god, in 1975 Marvin Hamlisch won, beating out Bad Company, David Essex, Graham Central Station, and Phoebe Snow.  Pass the Alka Seltzer!

Natalie Cole restored respectability to the award in ’76, but in ’77 The Starland Vocal Band won it.  This was when you knew that the music business was mired in a bleak period.  To back up this point I give you the next two year’s winners:  Debby Boone and A Taste of Honey.

Rickey Lee Jones was the first winner of the 80s and she beat out a very respectable field:  Dire Straits, The Blues Brothers, and Robin Williams.

 1984 was a good example of New Wave artists dominating.  Culture Club won against Big Country, The Eurythmics, and Men Without Hats.

In 1986, 21 years after the Beatles won, Julian Lennon was nominated, but he lost to Sade.

Milli Vanilli won in 1990 but they were subsequently stripped of the award after it was discovered that they lip synched their songs!  I bet Neneh Cherry, Indigo Girls, Soul II Soul, and Tone Loc were mad.

Miley Cyrus’s Dad, Billy Ray Cyrus was nominated in 1993 but he lost to Arrested Development.

Norah Jones won in 2003 but don’t tell me she’s a jazz singer.

Finally, I give you the year with the most one-name nominees:  2008.  That year saw a field of Feist, Ledisi, and Paramore, none of which won.  The winner?  Why Amy Winehouse, of course.

Esperanza Spalding


3 Responses to “And the Grammy goes to…”

  1. zapple100 said

    I have a live Frank Sinatra CD where the Red Norvo band backs him. It was a bootleg for the longest time, then, I think it was Blue Note that fixed up the sound and officially released it.

  2. If I were the Indigo Girls, I would have tried to have sex with Neneh Cherry. #justsayin


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