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Thankful for the women of the 2020 Grammys

This is the time of the year when people like me write columns about what we are thankful for.  Well there are a lot of things to be thankful for:  health, loved ones, friends – none of whom I can see now but I am thankful for them anyway.  But this month brought something else to be thankful for – the obvious changes in the music awards universe, specifically the Grammys, and really specifically, the historic number of women nominated for Grammys.

Six of eight Grammy nominations for Record Of The Year are women:  Beyoncé,  Doja Cat, Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, and Megan Thee Stallion.  In the Album Of The Year category half of the nominees are women:  Jhené Aiko, Dua Lipa, Haim and Taylor Swift.  Similarly, five of the eight nominees for Best New Artist are women:  Ingrid Andress, Phoebe, Chika, Doja Cat, and Megan Thee Stallion. All but one of the nominees for Best Rock Performance – traditionally a male bastion – are women, and the exception, Big Thief, features Adrianne Lenker as the vocalist. Same for best Rock song – four of five nominees are female:  Phoebe Bridges, Adriane Lenker, Fiona Apple and Brittany Howard.

Women even popped up in men’s world of Best Metal Performance with the nomination of Poppy for “Blood Money” and Reba Myers in the band Code Orange for “Underneath”. And they snuck into the usually al-male Best Rap Performance and the Best Rap Song with Megan Thee Stallion in the former and  Beyoncé in the latter.

But the biggest surprise of the nominations for me was Best Country Album – all Women: Ingrid Andress, Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town (two women and two men), and Ashley McBride. Wow, cowgirls rule!

How did the Grammys manage to discover that there were so many talented women in all genres when it wasn’t that long ago that the President of the Recording Academy had to step down for saying that women had to step up if they wanted to take home statues? The Academy heard the criticism and they changed – they expanded membership to 11,000, bringing in women, people of color and younger people who knew that women were dominating the radio, the streaming sites, the downloads.

And they noticed that Cardi B’s and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” about what women demand from men in sex debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, drawing 93 million streams in its first week, a feat no male artist has accomplished for a single song (Drakes album Scorpion was streamed one billion times in the first week).

I am grateful for the ability of the music industry to change, to see talent regardless of its gender or its color or its genre. It is not perfect, and women and artists of color still get too small a piece of music’s revenue stream.  But when I watched the Grammy nominations last week, what I was really thankful for was all of those talented women who will now fill my streams and earbuds.

Actually, they have been there for a long time.

Patrick O’Heffernan, Host, Music Sin Fronteras



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About Patrick O'Heffernan, Music Sin Fronteras (485 Articles)
Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist based in Mexico, with a global following. He focuses on music in English and Spanish that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America, especially Mexico like cumbia, banda, son jarocho, and mariachi. He is also edits a local news website and is a subeditor of a local Spanish language newspaper. Check out his weekly column Music Sin Frontera on Sunday nights.

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