Women to Take Center Stage at the Grammys

    02 February 2024

    The American music industry holds its highest honors Sunday night in Los Angeles at the 67th Grammy Awards ceremony.

    Artists including Taylor Swift and SZA, as well as songs from the Oscar-nominated movie Barbie lead the competition in nominations. And mostly women are nominated for Album of the Year, the top Grammy. Just one of the eight nominees is male.

    SZA has the most nominations of any artist this year: nine in all.

    FILE - SZA performs at day one of the Astroworld Music Festival in Houston on Nov. 5, 2021. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)
    FILE - SZA performs at day one of the Astroworld Music Festival in Houston on Nov. 5, 2021. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)

    The wide female representation in nominations follows a year of huge success for women in the mostly male music business.

    Swift's Eras Tour broke the record for ticket sales, passing that of British singer-songwriter Elton John. Beyoncé also played to full stadiums. And, Swift's concert film, also was a huge hit, earning more than $180 million in ticket sales.

    "Women had a phenomenal year, not just in music, but in Barbie being the biggest-grossing movie," said Billboard magazine reporter Paul Grein. "Women dominated pop culture."

    In addition to Swift and SZA, the other women nominated for this year's album prize are Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, Olivia Rodrigo, Janelle Monae and boygenius. The group boygenius is musicians Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus. The single male artist nominated for Album of the Year is Jon Batiste.

    It is just the 12th time in the Grammys' 66-year history, Grein said, that women received the majority of nominations for album of the year.

    In other award fields, music from the Barbie movie received 12 Grammy nominations, including one for song of the year: Billie Eilish's, What Was I Made For?

    Recording Academy recruits women

    The Recording Academy has been admitting an increasing number of female music makers as members in recent years. The Academy is the group of musicians, producers, engineers and others who vote on the Grammy nominees and winners. Since 2019, the percentage of female members has gone from 30 percent to 36 percent.

    "They are infusing the membership with a lot of members who will probably see things differently," Grein said.

    Some of the male artists normally in competition were between projects. Harry Styles, Bad Bunny and other past Grammy winners did not release new music during the eligibility period. Still, a University of Southern California study shows the percentage of women artists on Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 list at the end of 2023 reached 35 percent, a 12-year high.

    Women also made gains behind the scenes, with women of color driving the first increase in female songwriting credits in 12 years. Almost 20 percent of songwriters are women, up from 14 percent a year earlier.

    Female musicians made a lot of progress in just a few years, Smith said.

    "When you look at the data, you see that the collective action across the music industry is moving toward women," she said. "That we haven't seen before."

    The number of female producers increased but remain mostly male. In 2023, women received 6.5 percent of producer credits. No women were nominated for the producer of the year Grammy.

    But, on Sunday, several women could make history at the ceremony, including Swift and SZA.

    Swift could become the first artist to win album of the year four times if her work Midnights wins the big prize. And, if SZA wins for her recording "SOS," she will be the first Black woman to win album of the year as lead artist since Lauryn Hill.

    Hill received the honor 25 years ago.

    I'm Dan Novak.

    Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by Reuters.


    Words in This Story

    ticket — n. a piece of paper that allows you to see a show, participate in an event, travel on a vehicle, etc.

    stadium — n. a very large usually roofless building that has a large open area surrounded by many rows of seats and that is used for sports events, concerts, etc.

    phenomenal — adj. very good or great : unusual in a way that is very impressive

    gross — n. the amount of money earned before taxes, expenses, etc., are taken away

    infuse — v. to cause to be filled with something

    eligible— n. able to be chosen for something