With Black History Month and the 57th Grammy awards slowly approaching in less than 3 weeks, let’s take a look back at Grammy history for the category ‘Album of the year’ won by African-Americans.
1. Stevie Wonder, Innervisions, 1974
In 1974 Stevie Wonder took home a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The album, which was released August 3, 1973, came during what was called the “classic period” of Wonder’s career. He is the FIRST BLACK ARTIST to win Album of the year at the Grammy’s.
2. Stevie Wonder, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, 1975
Fulfillingness’ First Finale was another classic Wonder album. Released on July 22, 1974, the album was his first to top the Pop charts and led to him winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for the second year in a row.
3. Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life, 1977
Songs in the Key of Life is known as Stevie Wonder’s best-selling and most critically acclaimed album of his career. It was released on September 28, 1976, and received a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1977. Stevie Wonder set the record for the most Grammy ‘Album oty’ wins with 3, a few artist later tied his record.
4. Michael Jackson, Thriller, 1984
After delivering his classic Off the Wall album, Michael Jackson followed up in 1982 with another gem, Thriller. From start to finish the nine-track album produced some of MJ’s greatest hits like “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin,” “The Girl is Mine,” “Thriller,” “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “Human Nature” and “P.Y.T.” Album of the Year was just one of the eight awards Jackson took home after the 1984 Grammys, setting the record for the most Grammy nominations and most Grammy wins in one night.
5. Lionel Richie, Can’t Slow Down, 1985
Lionel Richie’s sophomore solo album Can’t Slow Down remained in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 for the entire year of 1984. So it was a no-brainer that the album went on to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1985.
6. Quincy Jones, Back on the Block, 1991
Quincy Jones’s 1989 collaborative album Back on the Block featured a laundry list of popular artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane, Dizzy Gillepsie, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, Barry White and Ray Charles. In 1991 it took the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in addition to six others.
7. Natalie Cole, Unforgettable…With Love, 1992
Natalie Cole, daughter of leading jazz pianist Nat King Cole, recorded Unforgettable…With Love, an album full of covers of her father’s music. The album, which has since been certified seven times platinum, won the 1992 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. She is the FIRST BLACK FEMALE artist to win Album of the year at the Grammy’s.
8. Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack, 1994
Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack album has been certified platinum 17 times and sold more than 44 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling soundtracks of all time, best-selling album by a female artist spending 20 weeks at #1 on Billboard 200, more weeks than any other female artist. In 1994 it took home the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
9. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, 1999
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1999. Not a bad solo debut for the multi-talented singer-songwriter-rapper who had already found success as one-third of the rap unit the Fugees.
10. Outkast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, 2004
ATL hip hop duo Outkast released their double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in September 2003. The following year, the project won the Grammy for Album of the Year, marking the second time that a hip hop act won the title.
11. Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company, 2005
Although Ray Charles passed away before he was able to personally accept the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, he was honored posthumously by the event dedicated to his memory. The iconic music star took home top honors for his Genius Loves Company album. The final studio album from the R&B singer was released two months after his June 2004 death.
12. Herbie Hancock, River: The Joni Letters, 2008
It took 40-plus album to get there but Herbie Hancock finally took home the award for Album of the Year at the Grammy’s with his 2007 album River: The Joni Letters. The acknowledgement came as a surprise to those in attendance at the 50th annual awards show and to the music world in general.