Talks of the significance of the Grammy Awards surface whenever “music’s biggest night” approaches. Some artists choose to boycott given the Recording Academy’s glaring oversight or in Frank Ocean’s missive, “cultural bias.” But for other artists who take home the hardware, or even land a nomination, their success in the music industry can change in an instant. This is the case for those who fall in the Best New Artist category.
For a rising or already established artist, the aforementioned classification thrusts them in front of the global stage by introducing them to a new set of viewers who were unaware of their success before they gave their acceptance speech. Part of the rules for qualifying mandate that an artist “must have achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and impacted the musical landscape during the eligibility period.” For 2017’s recipient, Chance the Rapper, he exceeded the rules and regulations of the showcase, and nearly swept the rap bracket. Now, he’s landed in great company within the Best New Artist hall of fame.
Check out VIBE’s list of some of our favorite artists to see how they thrived on the charts after winning the Grammys’ newbie accolade, and the charting success that Lil Chano from 79th can look forward to.
Chance The Rapper At The 59th GRAMMY Awards
Year Won: 1976 The late vocalist broke onto the scene in the mid-70s with her debut, Inseparable, placing critics’ attention on her powerhouse vocals. In addition to Best New Artist, Cole took home Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the longstanding tune, “This Will Be.” Nat King Cole’s daughter went on to release the Gold-status sophomore album, Natalie. A year after, she gained her first Platinum album with the 1977 release of Unpredictable. The plaques continued to role in with Thankful, and the widely-successful 1991 album, Unforgettable… with Love. The project received accolades from the Recording Academy for Album of the Year and Record of the Year. “Unforgettable” took home the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance. Cole also went down in history as the first black musician to win the Best New Artist trophy.
Year Won: 1988 The Chicago native got her big break on the historic Soul Train television program in the 70s. She then joined the group Shalamar, but later departed from the collective in 1983 to settle in England. After providing vocals for various artists, she returned to making music for herself, and released an eponymous album in 1987. Pushing four million units globally and dominating the dance charts with “Don’t You Want Me,” and “Still a Thrill,” Watley later took home the Best New Artist award at the 30th Annual Grammys. A year after, she dropped Larger than Life, which also pushed four million units across the globe. One of the album’s standout hits, “Real Love,” entered the U.S. R&B singles chart at No. 1.
Year Won: 1986
After the release of Promise in 1985, Sade and her band-mates took home the gramophone for Best New Artist. The soundscape was known as the artists’ first album to peak on the Billboard 200. After the win, the albums Stronger Than Pride and Love Deluxe continued to solidify the “Smooth Operator” singer’s place in the music industry, selling millions of copies from the U.S. to across the pond. Now, Sade is herald as a main influencer for artists including Drake, and Jhene Aiko.
Year Won: 1989
The “Fast Car” artist sped to the top of the boards following the release of Tracy Chapman in 1988. It became a multi-platinum success and garnered her a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. The following year, Chapman dropped Crossroads, which also hit Platinum status. It debuted at the No. 9 slot on the charts.
Year Won: 1991Carey’s appearance and win at the 33rd Grammys solidified her debut self-titled album at the apex of the Billboard 200. The nine-times Platinum CD set up another nice win for the mommy of two when she released her second studio album, Emotions. Backed by the singles “Can’t Let Go,” “Make It Happen,” and the title track, Emotions eventually sold over eight million copies.
Year Won: 1994 After her self-titled debut album went eight-times Platinum, Braxton continued to garner wins on the charts, specifically thanks to her second album’s single, “Un-Break My Heart.” The Secrets album cut remained at the No. 1 spot for 11 consecutive weeks. Secrets went on to sell over 15 million copies worldwide.
Year Won: 1999 Following the gratifying release of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the New Jersey native made history after she was the only artist that year to receive nominations in 10 categories at the 41st Grammy Awards. In 2002, the “Ex-Factor” singer returned to the music scene with a live album, MTV Unplugged 2.0. It hit Platinum status and landed at the No. 2 spot on the charts. Since then, Hill has been touring across the nation and released a couple of tunes. Another album from the R&B singer is still looming.
Year Won: 2000 One of pop’s most pivotal artists started off the new millennium with a gramophone thanks to the success of her self-titled debut album, which went eight times Platinum. The year after she took home Best New Artist, Aguilera released her second album, Mi Reflejo. It became her first album recorded in Spanish, and went six times Platinum.
Year Won: 2002 The acclaimed pianist’s debut effort, Songs In A Minor, went on to have a big night at 2002’s main event. The album took home accolades for Best R&B Album, and Song of the Year for “Fallin.’” The following year, the Harlemite dropped The Diary of Alicia Keys, which was certified four-times Platinum. The album pushed over eight million copies worldwide.
Year Won: 2006 The new father’s debut album, Get Lifted, increased his stock in the music industry once it hit Gold status. The Recording Academy picked Legend’s critically-acclaimed project for Best R&B Album, and after this success, he went on to still rake in trophies at various award shows. Then, the release of the emotionally-tinged, “All of Me” in 2013, reigned as one of the best-selling singles on a digital platform.
Year Won: 2008
The influential singer made history in ’08 after she became the first British female singer to win five Grammy Awards. Not only did she take home a gramophone for Best New Artist, but the Back to Black artist gained Record of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Song of the Year trophies. After the ceremony, Winehouse’s album found a new place at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, and has now amassed over 12 million sales globally.
Year Won: 2009 The Grammys knew the future success that Adele would effortlessly attain when they awarded her with the Best New Artist title in 2009. Thanks to the multi-platinum accomplishment of her debut 19, the Recording Academy took note, and also awarded her with the Best Female Pop Vocal for “Chasing Pavements.” It was only up from there for the U.K. vocalist, hitting Diamond status for her follow-up album, 21, a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song (“Skyfall”), and an Oscar for the same category and melody. Her third studio album, 25, followed in the footsteps of its predecessor and hit Diamond status in 2015. Millions of units were sold traditionally, without the assist of streaming services.
Year Won: 2011 Going up against some of pop music’s mainstays including Drake, Justin Bieber and Florence and the Machine, Esparanza Spalding and her storied musicianship ultimately took home the hardware at the 2011 music ceremony. The revered jazz artist saw a spike in sales of her third album, Chamber Music Society, finding a new home on the Billboard 200 chart at No. 34 and 18,000 additional albums sold.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Year Won: 2014 The Seattle duo have been on the scene for quite some time before they took home the Best New Artist title. The artists dropped The VS EP in 2009, and consistently released music thereafter, including their debut, The Heist. They later reached peak notoriety in 2013 with the success of “Thrift Shop.” To keep up the momentum of sweeping the rap categories at the Grammys in 2014, they released their second studio album, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made, which entered the charts at No. 4 and sold 61,000 copies in its first.
Year Won: 2015 For the British crooner, his debut at the Grammy Awards two years ago was a historic moment. The 24-year-old walked away with four gramophones including Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best New Artist. In tandem with guest vocals on Disclosure’s “Latch,” and Naughty Boy’s “La La La,” Smith set the stage for consumers to place their attention on his original work. In The Lonely Hour took over radio waves and the charts, featuring hit singles like “Lay Me Down,” “Money on My Mind,” and the smash melody, “Stay with Me.” After gaining the Best New Artist Award, Smith’s debut album went on to sell over 1 million copies stateside upon its initial release.
Year Won: 2016 The Epic Records signee blared through eardrums with her 2013 debut single “All About That Bass,” which landed atop the Billboard charts with 11 million units sold worldwide. The melody was featured on her studio album, Title, which put her on track to receive acclaim from power players in the music industry. The project went on to transfer 1.8 million copies globally. The following year, the Northeast native announced the release of her second compilation, Thank You. After winning the Best New Artist accolade at the Grammys, she unpackaged the album’s lead single, “No,” which became Trainor’s fourth song to enter the Top Ten. That same year, “No” sold more than 1.3 million units worldwide, while her album sat at the No. 3 spot on the Billboard 200.