Grammys: See The 11 Artists Who Are The Only Blacks To Ever Win Album Of The Year In 66 Years

BY JO Mensah February 7, 2024 2:33 PM EDT
Lauryn Hill and Natalie Cole
Lauryn Hill and Natalie Cole with Grammy trophies Photo source: @cultureclt, @nataliecole

The 2024 Grammy Awards, dubbed 66th Grammys, were held Sunday night, February 4, at the Arena in Los Angeles.

The night saw Taylor Swift making history by winning Album of the Year (AOTY). Swift took home the top honor for her album Midnights, becoming the only artist ever to win the title four times.

Following the Grammys, conversation around the AOTY category has resurfaced, especially after Jay-Z criticized the scheme. Receiving the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award for his work in the music industry, he took a moment to blast the academy for failing to give an award to his wife, Beyonce.

Queen Bey is the most successful artist in terms of Grammy wins but has never won the AOTY, leading her husband to ask questions.

But Beyonce is not the only Black musician to have suffered the AOTY disappointment. Not many Black artist have won that award in the Grammys’ 66-year-old history. In fact, 11 Blacks have received that honor and here are they.

Stevie Wonder – Innervisions (1974)

The legendary Stevie Wonder is the first Black artist ever to win Album of the Year, and he remains the only one to win three times.

He bagged his first in 1974 with Innerversions and made it back-to-back with Fulfillingness’ First Finale in 1975 before making it a hat-trick in 1977 with Songs in the Key of Life.

Michael Jackson – Thriller (1984)

After Stevie Wonder’s first AOTY and his subsequent dominance, it took 10 years for another Black artist to get the award.

It was no other than Michael Jackson whose Thriller clinched the AOTY and a record eight wins in one night.

Michael Jackson won Grammys AOTY in 1985
Michael Jackson won Grammys AOTY in 1984 Photo source: Instagram/@michaeljackson

Lionel Richie – Can’t Slow Down (1985)

Lionel Richie made it two consecutive AOTY wins for Black artists by following in MJ’s footsteps.

The singer-songwriter took home the award for his massively popular second solo album, Can’t Slow Down in 1985.

Lionel Richie won AOTY at the Grammys with Can't Slow Down
Lionel Richie won AOTY at the Grammys with Can’t Slow Down Photo source: Instagram/@lionelrichie

Quincy Jones – Back on the Block (1991)

Six years after Lionel Richie’s win, legendary producer Quincy Jones won for his all-star collaborative album, Back On The Block.

The compilation project featured artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, and rapper Ice T.

Quincy Jones with Grammys trophies
Quincy Jones has won 28 Grammys in his 70-year-old career in music Photo source: Instagram/@quincyjones

Natalie Cole – Unforgettable…With Love (1992)

Natalie Cole received the Grammy AOTY in the 1992 edition for her Unforgettable…With Love, her 12th studio album.

The daughter of singer and jazz pianist Nat King Cole, she had a career rebirth by recording some of her father’s classics.

Natalie Cole with Grammys AOTY trophy in 1992
Natalie Cole with her Grammys AOTY trophy in 1992 Photo source: Instagram/@nataliecoleofficial

Whitney Houston – The Bodyguard (1994)

Whitney Houston bagged the AOTY at the 1994 Grammys with her soundtrack album for the movie, The Bodyguard.

She featured in the movie alongside Kevin Costner and also recorded most of the songs on the album.

Whitney Houston won the AOTY at the 1994 Grammys
Whitney Houston won the AOTY at the 1994 Grammys Photo source: Instagram/@whitneyhouston

Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1999)

Lauryn Hill’s iconic debut album as a solo artist, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, made history as the first Hip-hop Album of the Year winner in 1999.

She also won Best New Artist on the night, making her one of only five artists to have achieved that feat.

Lauryn Hill was impressive at the 1999 Grammys
Lauryn Hill was impressive at the 1999 Grammys Photo source: Instagram/@90skidz_official

Outkast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2004)

The southern Hip-hop duo took their flowers at the 2004 Grammys, with their double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.

The album featured two distinct projects from each of the group’s members put together as one. Their win remains the last for any Hip-hop album.

Outkast was the last Hip-hop artist to win the AOTY at the Grammys
Outkast was the last Hip-hop artist to win the AOTY at the Grammys Photo source: Instagram/@cultureclt

Ray Charles – Genius Loves Company (2005)

Ray Charles’s last-ever album, Genius Loves Company, won him the Grammy AOTY in 2005.

But his award came posthumously. The two producers, Phil Ramone and John Burk, received the award on Charles’ behalf.

Ray Charles won the Grammy AOTY posthumously in 2005
Ray Charles won the Grammy AOTY posthumously in 2005 Photo source: Instagram/@official.raycharles

Herbie Hancock – River: The Joni Letters (2008)

Jazz musician, Herbie Hancock, did River: The Joni Letters, an album consisting of Joni Mitchell covers as a way of paying tribute to her.

That album won Hancock the AOTY at the Grammys in 2008.

Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock Photo source: Instagram/@herbiehancock

Jon Batiste – We Are (2022)

Jon Batiste ended a long drought for Black artists in 2022. 14 years after the last win, Jon Batiste won it with We Are.

Jon Batiste won the last Grammy AOTY by a Black artist
Jon Batiste won the last AOTY by a Black artist Photo source: Instagram/@jonbatiste

Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy shows elegance at the 2024 Grammys

Meanwhile, Blue Ivy Carter, the 12-year-old daughter of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, made a fashionable appearance alongside her famous parents at the Grammy Awards.

Although the family skipped the red carpet, Blue Ivy still managed to catch attention as she appeared on stage with her father.

She debuted a white off-the-shoulder Vivienne Westwood dress when she joined her father to receive the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award. The dress was paired with the fairytale-esque midi dress with $475 Larroude boots and a matching clutch.