Are you ready for the 2019 Grammy Awards? Of course, especially since this year’s ceremony celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Best R&B Album award.
We recently ran through the brief history of the eminent honor with a few facts about this year’s nominees. To keep the celebration going, we rounded up 25 more past and present facts that have made this category one of a kind.
It was a historic night for Lauryn Hill at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards in 1998. Not only did she make history as the first woman to win five awards in one night, but she is also the first (and only) R&B/soul act to win Album of the Year and Best R&B Album (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill).
With four noteworthy nominations, Ledisi is the most nominated artist without a Best R&B Album win. She received her last nod in this category back in 2018 for Let Love Rule.
Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number
Chaka Khan won a pair of Grammys at the 50th annual ceremony in 2007. Her Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis-helmed album Funk This took home the Best R&B Album honor at age 53, landing her recognition as the oldest solo winner.
Most Nominated Artist
Mary J. Blige won her first Grammy for Best R&B Album for her 2005 acclaimed album The Breakthrough. The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul vied for the award with four previous releases: My Life (1996), Share My World (1998), Mary (2000) and No More Drama (2002). With five considerations total, Blige is noted as the most nominated artist in this category.
The late singer received two posthumous Grammy nominations in 2002 at the 44th Grammy Awards. Her self-titled third album made history by becoming the first studio release by a posthumous act to be recognized for Best R&B Album.
While rock-soul diva Fantasia is the first American Idol contest winner to be nominated for Best R&B Album, Jennifer Hudson is the competition show’s first alum to accept the award.
Presented by one of her idols Whitney Houston, Hudson accepted her first career Grammy for her self-titled debut in 2008 at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards.
Even Beat the Odds
The Best R&B Album category typically spotlights five releases by five R&B/soul acts. Yet, the nominations for the inaugural award in 1995 highlighted albums by six R&B/soul artists. This also happened in 1998 and 2001.
The Gospel Truth
At the 40th Annual Grammy Awards in 1998, Whitney Houston’s contribution to The Preacher’s Wife was nominated for Best R&B Album. Houston wasn’t pleased about her nods, as she felt the soundtrack was omitted from its respective category. “Basically, it was my gospel album, and it was excluded from the gospel category altogether,” Houston told Entertainment Tonight. “I’m not going this year. I’m sick of work being done and people not recognizing it.”
Despite not properly categorizing Houston’s work, The Preacher’s Wife: Original Soundtrack Album – noted as the best-selling gospel album – became the first movie score to receive a nod for Best R&B Album.
Lalah Hathaway is a category pioneer. Her 2017 win for her eponymous live album makes her the first (and only) artist to take home this trophy for a live release.
Six Impressive Debuts
So far, in the 25-year award history, Tony Rich, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, John Legend, and Jennifer Hudson are the only artists to win this honor for their debut studio album. Rich is the first debut LP recipient, winning for his 1996 Words (a.k.a. The Tony Rich Project) album.
R. Kelly’s R. album has the shortest title of any Best R&B Album nominee in Grammy history.
Best New Artist
Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, and John Legend each have won Best New Artist and Best R&B Album.
Ten-time Grammy nominee Meshell Ndegeocello is the first artist to be nominated for both Best R&B Album and Best Contemporary Album. She received a nod for the former category in 1995 for Plantation Lullabies, while making it as one of the first-ever Best Contemporary Album finalists for Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape in 2003.
And the winner for the most Grammy love for Best R&B Album goes to …. Alicia Keys. Out of her four career nominations, this incomparable musician has won three for the following studio albums: Songs in A Minor (2002), The Diary of Alicia Keys (2005), and Girl on Fire (2014).
Toni Braxton and Babyface
Who said history can’t be made twice in one year? In 2015, Toni Braxton and Babyface became the first duo to be nominated for Best R&B Album for their duets album Love, Marriage & Divorce. The joint album, which appears on Rated R&B’s 50 Best R&B Albums of the 2010s, won the award at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, making them the first pair to win. It also marked their first victory in this category.
Back in 2019, H.E.R won Best R&B Album for her self-titled compilation album. It marked the first time a collection of music – that wasn’t a proper studio album – took home this award.
The neo-soul futurist with the longest wait in between a Best R&B Album win is D’Angelo. He first won in 2001 for Voodoo, while he earned his second honor 15 years later for Black Messiah in 2016.
On the nomination tip, Babyface has the longest gap between first and second nod. The legendary musician scored his first nomination for The Day in 1998 at the 40th Grammy Awards. He wasn’t in the album race again until 2014 for his Love, Marriage, & Divorce album with Toni Braxton.
Back in 2015, Norwegian act Bernhoft was nominated for Best R&B Album for Islander. He’s the first non-American artist to receive a nod in this category.
It was the year of the woman at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards in 2002, as all five Best R&B Album nominees were women. Competing against Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige, India.Arie, and Destiny’s Child, Alicia Keys came out as the winner for Songs In A Minor.
In 1999, Maxwell received his second nomination for Best R&B Album for Embrya. The neo-soul titan was the only male act in the album race. Maxwell remains the only lone male nominee to compete against all female performers.
Survived the Sophomore Slump
TLC, D’Angelo and Alicia Keys are the only three acts to win Best R&B Album for their second albums. Should BJ The Chicago Kid win this year, he’ll make the fourth performer.
John Legend is the first male artist to win Best R&B Album twice, earning his first for Get Lifted in 2006 and his second for Wake Up! with The Roots in 2011. However, Legend holds the record for a two-time male winner in this category with D’Angelo.
Mary J. Blige
Two years after taking home the award for Best R&B Album, the legendary R&B singer won Best Contemporary Album for 2007’s Growing Pains. She is the only artist to win both awards.
The late legend won big at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards in 2004, taking home four trophies. His final album Dance with My Father won Best R&B Album. Vandross earned his only other nod in this category in 1995 for Songs.
What do Ella Mai, BJ The Chicago Kid, PJ Morton, Anderson .Paak, and Lucky Daye all have in common? Aside from being nominated for Best R&B Album, they’ll all be first-time winners in this category.
Hosted by Alicia Keys, the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards airs live on Sunday, January 26 at 8 p.m. EST / 5 p.m. EST on CBS.