A person of color could win album of the year at the 2018 Grammys. These artists paved the way.
At the 60th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, the race for its most prestigious prize — album of the year — will have one notable difference when compared to every other year before. For the first time ever, zero white men are in the running.
The nominees this time around are made up solely of men of color and one white woman: Childish Gambino, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars and Lorde.
If a man of color takes home the top trophy, he will join a rich roster of people of color who have won album of the year in the show’s six-decade history. In advance of Sunday’s ceremony, Mic compiled a timeline of people of color who’ve won the Grammy for album of the year as lead artists, members of a band or as featured artists on a soundtrack or live album. (We are also defining a “person of color” as anyone of black, Hispanic/Latino or Asian ancestry.) Here are those winners.
Stan Getz and João Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto (1965)
American saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian singer-guitarist João Gilberto won album of the year in 1965 for their bossa nova album simply dubbed Getz/Gilberto. Along with Brazilian composer and pianist Antônio Carlos Jobim (who composed most of the songs on the album), Gilberto is often thought of as one of the defining figures of bossa nova, a genre of music characterized by jazzy, lounge-style beats. Perhaps the most recognizable song from the genre is “The Girl from Ipanema,” which won record of the year at the 1965 Grammys; it’s also the first track on Getz/Gilberto.
George Harrison and Friends, The Concert for Bangladesh (1973)
The Concert for Bangladesh is a live album capturing a star-studded benefit held in 1971 to raise money for Bengali refugees. Staged at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the two shows featured an impressive billing: ex-Beatles George Harrison and Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar, among others, including keyboardist and gospel/soul singer Billy Preston. They didn’t all reunite on the Grammys stage, though, when the album won the trophy for album of the year in 1973; Starr accepted the Grammy on behalf of Harrison, Shankar and the other artists involved.
Stevie Wonder, Innervisions (1974)
Stevie Wonder made history at the 1974 Grammys, when he became the first black artist to win album of the year, for his landmark Innervisions LP. (He ended up taking home a total of four Grammys that same night.) The year before he won, though, Wonder was in a serious car accident; according to the official Grammys site, this made his acceptance speeches “especially moving” when he brought his family up on-stage with him.
Stevie Wonder, Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1975)
The year after he won album of the year for Innervisions, Wonder repeated, earning album of the year for his follow-up studio effort, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, in 1975. Wonder ended up collecting a total of four Grammys again at that year’s ceremony, and delivered a political performance with “You Haven’t Done Nothin,’” a song that sharply criticizes the Nixon administration.
Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life (1977)
On the night of the 1977 Grammys, Wonder won his third album of the year award, this time for his classic ‘76 LP, Songs in the Key of Life. Host Andy Williams told the audience, “I’m very proud of this Academy. There aren’t many institutions that would go to so much time and care just to throw an annual get-together for Stevie Wonder.”
Various artists, Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack (1979)
The soundtrack for the iconic film Saturday Night Fever won the album of the year award in 1979. Despite being most commonly associated with the Bee Gees, the compilation features a diverse set of artists, including Kool and the Gang, The Trammps, Tavares, Ralph MacDonald, singer Yvonne Elliman and KC and the Sunshine Band.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy (1982)
John Lennon and Yoko Ono won the album of the year award for their collaborative Double Fantasy in 1982. The record was released in November 1980, just a few weeks before Lennon was murdered in December of that year. Obviously, the circumstances made Ono’s acceptance speech especially noteworthy.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Ono said on the Grammys stage. “I think John is here with us today. Both John and I were always very proud and happy that we were part of the human race. He made good music for the Earth and for the universe.”
Michael Jackson, Thriller (1984)
On the night of the 1984 Grammys, Michael Jackson won a total of eight awards, including album of the year for his world-conquering sixth album, Thriller. Despite making multiple trips up to the stage, Jackson didn’t take off his sunglasses until his seventh time, “at the personal request of his friend Katharine Hepburn,” according to the Grammys site.
Lionel Richie, Can’t Slow Down (1985)
In 1985, Lionel Richie won album of the year for his second solo album, Can’t Slow Down. In doing so, Richie beat out a handful of other iconic full-lengths for the much-coveted Grammy, including Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., Tina Turner’s Private Dancer and Prince’s Purple Rain.
Quincy Jones, Back on the Block (1991)
In 1991, Jones won the Grammy for album of the year for his 1989 comeback album, Back on the Block. He triumphed over a handful of younger artists, including Mariah Carey, MC Hammer and Wilson Phillips. In his acceptance speech, Jones said that he knew Wilson Phillips member Chynna Phillips when she was “about six months old... and now we’re in the same category.”
Natalie Cole, Unforgettable... With Love (1992)
In 1992, Natalie Cole won big at the Grammys for Unforgettable... With Love, which consists of covers of standards performed by her late father, Nat King Cole, as well as a “duet” that features recordings of her father’s voice. She took home three awards that night, including album of the year.
Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album (1994)
The winner of album of the year in 1994, The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album, also happens to be the best-selling soundtrack of all time, with more than 45 million copies sold. It also features Houston’s most famous song, “I Will Always Love You,” which is actually a cover of the 1974 Dolly Parton song of the same name.
Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1999)
Lauryn Hill’s album of the year win in 1999 — for her debut album as a solo artist, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill — marked the first time a hip-hop artist had ever won the award. That night, she won a total of five Grammys, including best new artist, best R&B song, best female R&B vocal performance and best R&B album.
Santana, Supernatural (2000)
Decades into the band’s career, Santana won album of the year at the 2000 Grammys, for their massively successful 1999 LP, Supernatural. The record — best known for the Rob Thomas-featuring smash hit “Smooth” — has sold more than 30 million copies, and earned Santana a total of eight Grammys.
Various Artists, O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack (2002)
In 2002, album of the year went to the soundtrack for the 2000 Coen brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? The album features songs by a slew of artists, including Chris Thomas King and The Fairfield Four. In fact, so many people flooded the stage to accept the album of the year award that host Jon Stewart quipped, “I want to point out, you get to come up if you worked on the album, not just if you heard it.”
Norah Jones, Come Away With Me (2003)
At the 2003 Grammys, Norah Jones won album of the year for her debut album, Come Away With Me. In doing so, she tied Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill for the record of most wins in a single night by a female artist, with five awards in total. Eventually, they were unseated by Beyoncé and Adele, who won six Grammys each in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2004)
Outkast’s ambitious double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, was the second-ever hip-hop album to win album of the year, after Lauryn Hill’s win in 1999. That night, Outkast won two other awards: best urban/alternative performance for “Hey Ya!” and best rap album.
Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company (2005)
Ray Charles died in June 2004, making this a posthumous win for his duets album Genius Loves Company, which featured guest appearances from artists like Natalie Cole, Norah Jones and Elton John. During the ceremony, Quincy Jones and actor Jamie Foxx, who played Charles in the 2004 Oscar-winning film Ray, honored Charles with a performance of “Georgia On My Mind.”
Herbie Hancock, River: The Joni Letters (2008)
In 2008, Herbie Hancock earned the album of the year trophy for River: The Joni Letters, a guest-filled tribute album featuring covers of Joni Mitchell songs. While giving his acceptance speech, the jazz great mentioned Stan Getz and João Gilberto — the artists behind the first album on this timeline.
“It’s been 43 years since the first and only time that a jazz artist got the album of the year award,” he said, referencing the Getz/Gilberto album. “I’d like to thank the Academy for courageously breaking the mold this time and in doing so honor the giants upon whose shoulders I stand.”
Arcade Fire, The Suburbs (2011)
In 2011, Arcade Fire won album of the year for The Suburbs. The band’s founding members include married couple Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, who is of Haitian descent. Chassagne’s heritage has factored into Arcade Fire’s music in several ways: Their debut album, 2004’s Funeral, features a song called “Haiti,” and the band’s fourth album, 2013’s Reflektor, was influenced by a trip that Chassagne and Butler took to Haiti. Speaking to Rolling Stone for a 2014 interview, Chassagne noted that her parents both had darker skin than her, “but somehow I just came out like this.”
Jan. 29, 2018, 11:30 a.m.: This story has been updated.