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Representation of Women and Women of Color at The 2020 Grammy Awards

January 27, 2020
Written by
Cynthia Schemmer
Text by
She Shreds Staff
Images by
She Shreds Staff

We broke down some numbers and pivotal moments from last night’s Grammy Awards to highlight the progress made and the changes still needed.

While Billie Eilish may have swept the top categories at last night’s 62nd Grammy Awards, let’s not forget that the award show is not the be-all-end-all of music (in our opinion), specifically when it comes to representation.

We sat down and counted through all of the artists that received nominations and/or awards to break down key numbers in terms of women, and especially women of color.

Out of 84 total categories:

  • 36 winners are women
  • 13 winners are women of color
  • 11 winner are guitarists/bassists

Out of 396 nominees

  • 147 are women
  • 61 are women of color

Women generally seemed to be on an equal playing field at this year’s Grammys; however, despite the considerable presense of Lizzo, H.E.R., Ariana Grande, and Rosalía, the Recording Academy still needs to step it up when it comes to the overall recognition of women of color.

And you better believe that we also took note of where the inclusion of women was specifically lacking. Below are a few categories in which ZERO women were nominated:

  • Dance/Electronic field
  • Best Metal Album
  • Rap field
  • Best Jazz Instrumental Album
  • Best Latin Pop Album

In 2019 the incredibly Emily Lazar was the first woman to have ever won an engineering grammy. We were also reminded by our friends in Summer Cannibals that a woman has never won Producer of the Year:

However, there were some major moments that might have been overlooked, including significant milestones, performances, and the guitarists and bassists that were nominated and/or awarded this year.

H.E.R. Nominated for Five Awards

In 2019, H.E.R. was nominated for five Grammy Awards, and won Best R&B Performance (“Best Part” with Daniel Caesar) and Best R&B Album (H.E.R.).

This year, our queen was again nominated five times, including Album of the Year (I Used To Know Her), Record of the Year (Hard Place), Song of the Year (“Hard Place”), and Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song (“Could’ve Been”).

While H.E.R. didn’t take home any awards this year, she gave an amazing performance of her latest single, “Sometimes.” And this week, it was announced that Pepsi will air a Super Bowl commercial featuring a performance of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” by H.E.R. and absolute legend Missy Elliot.

Koffee Wins Best Reggae Album, Youngest and First Woman to Win

Mikayla Simpson, the 20-year-old Jamaican reggae musician and guitarist also known as Koffee, took home the award for Best Reggae Album for EP Rapture, marking her as both the youngest musician and first woman to be awarded in this category.

Rodrigo y Gabriela win Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for Mettavolution

Credit: Zoe Rain

Gabriela Quintero is an acoustic guitar wizard, shredding in duo Rodrigo y Gabriela who took home their first Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Album for Mettavolution.

Back in 2014, Quintero was our Issue #5 cover artist, and we’re so psyched to see her constantly on the rise! #knewyouwhen

Esperanza Spalding Wins Best Jazz Vocal Album for 12 Little Spells

Credit: Myles Katherine

Esperanza Spaulding, our Issue #10 cover artist and one of our hometown heroes, took home the award for Best Jazz Vocal Album for 12 Little Spells.

This is the jazz bassist’s fourth Grammy win—she won Best New Artist in 2011 (making her the first jazz musician to ever win the award), and Best Jazz Vocal Album (Radio Music Society) and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying (“City Of Roses”) in 2012—and we couldn’t be more psyched about it.

Angelique Kidjo Wins Best World Music Album for Celia

In her acceptance speech, Angelique Kidjo dedicated her award to nominee and Nigerian musician Burna Boy:

“The new generations of artists coming from Africa are gonna take you by storm—and the time has come. This is for Burna Boy. Burna Boy is among those young artists that come from Africa that is changing the way our continent is perceived, and they way that African music has been the bedrock to every music.”

Burna Boy’s nomination was a major milestone for contemporary African music, and this was not lost on Kidjo, who won her fifth Grammy last night for Best World Music for album Celia.

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