Only 10 Black artists have won album of the year at the Grammys — here they all are

Echoes/Redferns / Frank Micelotta Archive/ContributorStevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill are two of just 10 Black artists who have won album of the year.
  • In the 61-year history of the Grammy Awards, only 10 Black artists have won album of the year.
  • Stevie Wonder became the first Black artist to win in 1974 for his 16th studio album, “Innervisions.”
  • Wonder is also one of just three artists – along with Frank Sinatra and Paul Simon – who has won the award three different times.
  • The remaining nine artists on this list have each won album of the year once.
  • Lauryn Hill became the first-ever hip-hop artist to win album of the year in 1999 for “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”
  • A Black artist or group hasn’t won the Grammys’ most prestigious award since Herbie Hancock in 2008.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“It’s almost impossible for a black artist to win album of the year,” John Legend told Entertainment Weekly in June.

Statistically, Legend is largely correct.

In the 61-year history of the Grammys, the ceremony’s most prestigious award has only been given to Black artists 12 times — and since Stevie Wonder has won thrice, that leaves just 10 Black artists with the distinction.

In fact, a Black artist or all-Black group hasn’t won album of the year in 12 years, since Herbie Hancock won in 2008 (for covering a collection of songs that were originally recorded by a white woman).

Contemporary Black artists have been repeatedly snubbed, despite creating seminal records: Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, and Kanye West have each been nominated three times, but have never won;Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange” lost to Mumford & Sons, and Prince’s “Sign o’ the Times” was beaten by U2’s “The Joshua Tree.”

The only Black artists who have won album of the year are listed below, in chronological order.


1. Stevie Wonder

Echoes/Redferns / Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty ImagesStevie Wonder at the Grammys in 1974, left, and 1975.

Stevie Wonder became the first Black artist to win album of the year in 1974 for his 16th studio album, “Innervisions,” 15 years after the inaugural Grammys ceremony.

He won again in 1975 for “Fulfillingness’ First Finale,” becoming just the second artist ever to win the award in consecutive years, after Frank Sinatra in the ’60s.

Along with Sinatra and Paul Simon, Wonder is also one of just three artists who has won album of the year three different times; Wonder won again in 1977 for “Songs in the Key of Life,” and he remains the only artist in Grammy history to win with three consecutive studio albums.


2. Michael Jackson

CBS via Getty ImagesMichael Jackson at the 26th annual Grammy Awards in 1984.

Michael Jackson won album of the year in 1984 for his magnum opus, “Thriller.”

That year, Jackson became the first artist ever to win eight Grammy Awards in one night. The record was later tied by Santana in 2000.


3. Lionel Richie

Lester Cohen/Getty ImagesLionel Richie at the 27th annual Grammy Awards in 1985.

Lionel Richie won album of the year in 1985 for “Can’t Slow Down,” his second solo album.


4. Quincy Jones

Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty ImagesQuincy Jones at the 33rd annual Grammy Awards in 1991.

Quincy Jones won album of the year in 1991 for “Back on the Block,” an album he produced that features various artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Ice-T, and Ray Charles.


5. Natalie Cole

Rick Maiman/Sygma via Getty ImagesNatalie Cole at the 34th annual Grammy Awards in 1992.

Natalie Cole won album of the year in 1992 for “Unforgettable…With Love,” her 12th studio album.


6. Whitney Houston

Robin Platzer/IMAGES/Getty ImagesWhitney Houston at the 36th annual Grammy Awards in 1994.

Whitney Houston won album of the year in 1994 for the soundtrack of “The Bodyguard,” a film she starred in.

Houston recorded most of the soundtrack’s songs, and also served as the album’s co-executive producer with Clive Davis.


7. Lauryn Hill

Steve Granitz/WireImageLauryn Hill at the 41st annual Grammy Awards in 1999.

Lauryn Hill won album of the year in 1999 for her debut solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”

She became the first-ever hip-hop artist to win the prestigious award. Hill is also one of just five artists to win album of the year and best new artist in the same night, a feat most recently achieved by Billie Eilish.

As Billboard notes, Hill is the only female artist in Grammys history to win album of the year for an album on which she was the sole producer.


8. Outkast

Frederick M. Brown/Getty ImagesOutkast at the 46th annual Grammy Awards in 2004.

Outkast won album of the year in 2004 for “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below,” the duo’s fifth studio album.


9. Ray Charles

Michael Caulfield/WireImage / Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images‘Genius Loves Company’ co-producer Phil Ramone at the 2005 Grammys, far left, and Ray Charles at the 1967 Grammys, far right.

Ray Charles posthumously won album of the year in 2005 for “Genius Loves Company,” his final album. The album’s two co-producers, John Burk and Phil Ramone, accepted the award on Charles’ behalf.


10. Herbie Hancock

Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty ImagesHerbie Hancock at the 50th annual Grammy Awards in 2008.

Herbie Hancock won album of the year in 2008 for “River: The Joni Letters,” a tribute album comprised of Joni Mitchell covers.

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