The Awards Show That Transformed Music

A Short History of the GRAMMYs

Zaynab Rehman

On November 23rd, the Recording Academy released an extensive list of nominees for 2022’s GRAMMY Awards show. While the ceremony isn’t until January 31st, music aficionados have already begun speculating who will take home the most awards. Jon Batiste is expected to win big with a whopping 11 nominations under his belt for his work on various jazz and R&B albums, as well as the Academy Award-winning Pixar film Soul. Other top nominees, including Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, H.E.R., Billie Ellish and Olivia Rodrigo, are also predicted to snag a handful of awards. 

While this year’s GRAMMYs consists of 86 categories—most well-regarded of which are the “Big Four”  (that is, Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist)—this wasn’t always the case. The first ever GRAMMYs (then called the Gramophone Awards), held on May 4, 1959 at both the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California and the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City, boasted a curated collection of just 28 categories. Top winners that year included Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Henry Mancini, and Domenico Modugno. 

In 1973, the Recording Academy added a new layer of prestige to these awards by introducing the Grammy Hall of Fame. Any recording that is at least 25 years old has a shot of earning this honor, and a few key recipients include “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, “Dancing Queen” by ABBA, and “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver. 

Today, the GRAMMYs has become a centerpiece of awards season. It celebrates some of the most talented and influential musicians of the year and honors their painstaking efforts. More than six decades after its first debut, the GRAMMYs has played a pivotal role in bringing emerging artists to the forefront and bolstering the careers of well-established musicians.

Listen to music from this year’s GRAMMYs nominees here: