Jay-Z calls out Recording Academy during 2024 Grammy Awards; Fantasia honors Tina Turner; stars shine

SZA, Victoria Monét, and Killer Mike were the Black artists who won the most prizes; Jay-Z called out the Recording Academy for not yet awarding wife Beyoncé a Grammy for Album of the Year; and Fantasia Barrino delivered an electrifying rendition of “Proud Mary,” in tribute to Tina Turner. 

Those were some of the most memorable highlights of the 66th annual Grammy Awards, presented Sunday at the Crytpo.com Arena in Los Angeles. For the fourth consecutive year, Trevor Noah hosted. CBS had the U.S. telecast of the show, while Paramount+ With Showtime livestreamed the ceremony. A pre-telecast ceremony was livestreamed on Grammy.com.

The Grammy Awards are voted for by the Recording Academy.

SZA receives award from Lizzo

SZA, whose given name is Solána Rowe, had the most nominations (nine) going into the ceremony. She won three Grammys: Best Progressive R&B Album, for “SOS”; Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, for her “Ghost in the Machine” collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers; and Best R&B Song, for “Snooze,” an award she shares with Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Blair Ferguson, Khris Riddick-Tynes, and Leon Thomas. SZA performed “Snooze” and “Kill Bill” at the show.

Lizzo, right, presents the award for best R&B song to SZA for "Snooze" during the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Chris Pizzello, The Associated Press
Lizzo, right, presents the award for best R&B song to SZA for “Snooze” during the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Chris Pizzello, The Associated Press

Lizzo presented SZA the award for Best R&B Song. SZA gave Lizzo a big hug and breathlessly explained that she was delayed because she was changing her clothes backstage. 

“Lizzo and I have been friends since 2013, when we were both on a tiny Red Bull tour together, opening up in small rooms with, like, 100 people. And to be on stage with her is so amazing,” SZA said. “I’m so grateful.” 

SZA then broke down in tears and said, “You don’t really understand. I came really, really far. I can’t believe this is happening. … I’m not an attractive crier. Have a good evening.”

Victoria Monét encourages those with big dreams

Victoria Monet accepts the award for best new artist during the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Chris Pizzello, The Associated Press
Victoria Monet accepts the award for best new artist during the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Chris Pizzello, The Associated Press

Victoria Monét, who had seven nominations, also won three Grammys: Best R&B Album (for “Jaguar II”), Best New Artist, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical (for “Jaguar II”).  In her acceptance speech for Best New Artist, Monét thanked her mother, whom she described as “a single mom raising this really bad girl.”

Monét then said, “I just want to say to everybody who has a dream: I want you to look at this as an example. This award was a 15-year pursuit. I moved to L.A. in 2009.”

She added, “I like to liken myself as a plant who was planted. And you can look at the music industry as soil. It can be looked at as dirty, or it can be looked at as a source of nutrients and water. My roots have been growing underground, unseen for so long. And I feel like today, I am sprouting, finally, above ground.” 

Killer Mike dominated in the rap categories, winning three Grammys: “Scientists & Engineers” (featuring André 3000, Future and Eryn Allen Kane) won for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, while Killer Mike’s “Michael” won Best Rap Album. However, Killer Mike (whose real name is Michael Santiago Render) didn’t get a chance to give his acceptance speeches on TV, because the rap categories were not part of the televised portion of the Grammy ceremony this year. In addition, no rap/hip-hop artists were nominated at the 2024 Grammys in the show’s three biggest categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year.

The Grammy Awards have gotten a lot of criticism over the years for how the ceremony sidelines rap/hip-hop, when it comes to the most high-profile categories. Nicki Minaj and Drake, who were nominated for Grammys this year, are among the hip-hop artists who are boycotting the Grammys until further notice, because they think the Grammys give less respect to rap/hip-hop than many other mainstream music genres.

Jay-Z takes Recording Academy to task: ‘We want you to get it right’

Jay-Z expressed this frustration when he received the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, which was first given in 2023 to Dr. Dre. The Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective gives this award to people who have made a worldwide impact with Black music and in helping Black artists. During his acceptance speech, Jay-Z, whose given name is Shawn Carter, was joined on stage by his and Beyoncé’s 12-year-old daughter Blue Ivy Carter while Beyoncé watched from the audience.

Jay-Z, left, accepts the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award as daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, looks on during the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Chris Pizzello, The Associated Press
Jay-Z, left, accepts the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award as daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, looks on during the 66th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Los Angeles. Photo credit: Chris Pizzello, The Associated Press

Jay-Z has a complicated history with the Grammys. Although he has won several, he was famously snubbed at the 2018 Grammy Awards. That year, he was the leading contender with the most nominations (eight), including Album of the Year, but he didn’t win any prizes from those nominations. Pop singer Bruno Mars was the biggest Grammy winner that year, with a total of six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year.

Jay-Z commented in his 2024 Dr. Dre Global Impact Award speech that he used to have a Grammy trophy as a “sippy cup” for Blue Ivy when she was younger. “Blue is all grown-up now, so she doesn’t take sippy cups,” he said. “And she has her own Grammys,” he added, referring to Blue Ivy’s 2021 Grammy for Best Music Video for being a featured artist (with Wizkid) on Beyoncé’s “Brown Skin Girl.”

He thanked Dr. Dre (who was in the audience) for “all the doors that you opened,” and acknowledged Run-DMC as also breaking barriers for hip-hop artists.

Jay-Z then acknowledged Will Smith, whose former rap name was the Fresh Prince, and DJ Jazzy Jeff for being the first artists to win a Grammy for rap music (in 1989) and for boycotting the Grammys that year because the rap category wasn’t televised. “And then, they went to a hotel and watched the Grammys. … It wasn’t a great boycott,” he joked.

He added, “But then, [in] ’98, I took a page out of their book. I was nominated for Best Rap Album. And DMX dropped two albums that year. They both were No. 1. Shout-out to DMX. And he wasn’t nominated [for Grammys] at all [for those two albums], so I boycotted. And I watched the Grammys.”

Jay-Z then made an apparent reference to the Recording Academy repeatedly passing over rap/hip-hop artists to win the Grammy for Album of the Year. (The only hip-hop artist to win in this category so far is OutKast for 2003’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.”) 

“I’m saying, we want you to get it right,” Jay-Z said. “At least close to getting it right. Obviously, it’s subjective. It’s music, and it’s opinion-based.” 

He then referred to Beyoncé when he said, “I don’t want to embarrass this young lady, but she’s won more Grammys than anyone but never won Album of the Year.” (In 2023, Beyoncé won four Grammys and broke a record by bringing her Grammy-winning career total to 32 Grammys—more Grammys won by any other artist.) Jay-Z added, “So, even by your own metrics, that doesn’t work.”

Jay-Z didn’t stop there with his “real talk” opinions about how artists get awarded at the Grammys. He said with a smile, “Some of you will go home tonight and will feel like you’ve been robbed. Some of you may get robbed. Some of you don’t belong in the category.” After a mix of boos and laughter at that last remark, he said, “When I get nervous, I tell the truth.”

He concluded, “Outside of that, we’ve got to keep showing up. Forget the Grammys for a second—just in life.” He said while looking and Blue Ivy and then reaching out to hold her hand: “As my daughter sits and stares at me as nervous as I am, you’ve got to keep showing up … until they give you all those accolades you feel you deserve, until they call you chairman, until they call you genius, until they call you the greatest of all time.”

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As jazz/pop artist Batiste found out, the Grammy Awards can be fickle. Batiste had six nominations this year—including Album of the Year (for “World Music Radio”), Record of the Year (for “Worship”), and Song of the Year (for “Butterfly”)—but he didn’t win any awards from those nominations. It’s in stark contrast to the 2022 Grammy Awards, when Batiste was the ceremony’s biggest winner, with five prizes, including Album of the Year, for “We Are.”

Something that the Grammy Awards did differently this year was lengthen the time for the “In Memoriam” segment that paid tribute to notable people in the music industry who passed away since the previous Grammy ceremony. The segment is usually under 10 minutes. This year, the “In Memoriam” segment was 20 minutes and split into four sections with separate performances by Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox, Batiste, and Barrino. Each performance was in tribute to a specific person, but photos, names, and titles of many other people were shown on video screens during the “In Memoriam” segment.

Fantasia Barrino sizzles in Tina Turner tribute

Oprah Winfrey introduced Barrino’s tribute to Tina Turner by sharing some memories about the late singer: “From the moment I met Tina—first as a fan, and then later to become her friend—she was a special kind of role model. She used to say to me, ‘Oprah, you should always dress up for dinner, even if no one else is there—just so you feel beautiful to you, for yourself.’ And as those wheels of time keep on turning, Tina’s voice continues to speak to all of us.”

Barrino wore a gold dress for her rousing version of “Proud Mary” and had the audience members on their feet. She also went out into the crowd saying that she wanted someone to dance with and ended up doing some dance moves with Dua Lipa, while a seemingly bashful Beyoncé (who was sitting at the same table) looked like she didn’t want to be singled out at that moment.

Several other Black artists performed at the ceremony. Notably Tracy Chapman joined country singer Luke Combs for a performance of her 1988 hit song “Fast Car,” which Combs recorded as a cover version in 2023. Sista Strings were among the several artists on stage with Joni Mitchell, who performed “Both Sides Now” for her very first Grammy performance. Travis Scott did a medley of “My Eyes,” “I Know?,” and “Fe!n” featuring Playboi Carti. Burna Boy was joined by 21 Savage and Brandy for “Sittin’ on Top of the World.”

Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz, who were presenters, received the Recording Academy Global Impact Award at the third annual Recording Academy Honors Presented by the Black Music Collective on Thursday in Los Angeles. According to a Recording Academy press release: “The Recording Academy Global Impact Award recognizes Black music creators whose dedication to the art form has greatly influenced the industry and whose legacy of service inspires countless individuals worldwide, celebrating those who, through leadership and passion, empower others to embrace their authentic selves and contribute to positive change.”

Grammy host Noah kept his banter light-hearted by giving a lot of praise to the artists in the audience and on stage. Lionel Richie and Samara Joy were among the Black presenters at the show.

Several other noncompetitive awards were mentioned during the ceremony. Out of the six acts who received the Lifetime Achievement Award this year, four are Black: Gladys Knight, Donna Summer, N.W.A., and the Clark Sisters. The other Lifetime Achievement recipients were Dolly Parton and Laurie Anderson.

Best Song for Social Change went to K’naan’s “Refugee,” written by K’naan, Gerald Eaton, and Steve McEwan. Jon Platt, CEO of Sony Music Publishing, received the Industry Icon Award.

Other winners

These are other Black people who won Grammys during the pre-telecast ceremony:

  • Dave Chappelle: Best Comedy Album (“What’s In a Name?”) 
  • Billy Childs: Best Jazz Instrumental Album (“The Winds of Change”)
  • Blind Boys of Alabama: Best Roots Gospel Album (“Echoes of the South”)
  • The Count Basie Orchestra, directed by Scotty Barnhart: Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album (“Basie Swings the Blues”)
  • Kirk Franklin: Best Gospel Performance/Song (“All Things”)
  • Harlem Quartet, Imani Winds, and A.B. Spellman: Best Classical Compendium (“Passion for Bach and Coltrane”)
  • J. Harrison Ghee, Adrianna Hicks, NaTasha Yvette Williams, and Bryan Carter: Best Musical Theater Album (“Some Like It Hot”)
  • J. Ivy: Best Spoken Word Poetry Album (“The Light Inside”)
  • Coco Jones: Best R&B Performance (“ICU”)
  • Samara Joy: Best Jazz Performance (“Tight”)
  • Alicia Keys: Best Immersive Audio Album (“The Diary of Alicia Keys” re-release)
  • Lecrae and Tasha Cobbs Leonard: Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song (“Your Power”). Lecrae also won Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for “Church Clothes 4.”
  • Lil Durk featuring J. Cole: Best Melodic Rap Performance (“All My Life”)
  • Julian Marley: Best Reggae Album (“Colors of Royal”)
  • PJ Morton featuring Susan Carol: Best Traditional R&B Performance (“Good Morning”)
  • Meshell Ndegeocello: Best Alternative Jazz Album (“The Omnichord Real Book”) 
  • Michelle Obama: Best Audio Book, Narration & Storytelling Recording (“The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times”)
  • Deanie Parker: Best Historical Album, Best Album Notes (“Written in Their Soul: The Stax Songwriter Demos”)
  • Theron Thomas: Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical
  • Tye Tribbett: Best Gospel Album (“All Things New: Live in Orlando”)
  • Tyla: Best African Music Performance (“Water”)
  • Buckwheat Zydeco Jr. & The Legendary Ils Sont Partis Band: Best Regional Roots Music Album (“New Beginnings”)

A complete list of winners can be found on the official Grammy Awards website.

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