Grammy Flashback: Best New Artist

Country artists who make the cut in the Best New Artist slot at the Grammys have had a much better track record of long-term success than their fellow pop, rock and R&B nominees, which they usually lose to. So far, only two country artists – LeAnn Rimes and Carrie Underwood – have actually won the Best New Artist Grammy.

This is the only general category that has seen a greater number of its country nominees in the more recent years. Here’s a look back at the country nominees for Best New Artist.


  • Feist
  • Ledisi
  • Paramore
  • Taylor Swift
  • Amy Winehouse

By all laws of logic and reason, this award will go to Amy Winehouse, who scored six nods overall and is represented in all four major categories, the first artist to pull that off since Paula Cole in 1998. However, Winehouse’s public struggles have left open the possibility of an upset, and Taylor Swift is now seen as a major contender for this award. Grammy certainly has gone the teen route before, as evidenced by the wins of vocal phenoms LeAnn Rimes and Christina Aguilera. My guess is Winehouse has the edge, given Swift didn’t sco



  • James Blunt
  • Chris Brown
  • Imogen Heap
  • Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood, as widely expected, won Best New Artist after selling five million copies of her debut album. Sure, she hasn’t had a crossover hit, but “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats” have made her a superstar and given her two signature tunes; ten years earlier, LeAnn Rimes won with only one. She also one-upped Rimes by scoring two nominations the next year, compared to Rimes’ sole nod the year after she won Best New Artist.


  • Ciara
  • Fallout Boy
  • Keane
  • John Legend
  • Sugarland

Sugarland had good reason to be surprised by their nomination, as they hadn’t received any nominations in the country categories. They were shut out again in 2007 from all of the country races, so this remains their only Grammy nomination to date.


  • Los Lonely Boys
  • Maroon 5
  • Joss Stone
  • Kanye West
  • Gretchen Wilson

Wilson not only one Best Country Vocal Performance, Female in her debut year, she’s been nominated every year since. She’s the only woman who can make that claim, though it’s unlikely she’ll take it home this year, with Carrie Underwood as her competition.


  • Shelby Lynne
  • Brad Paisley
  • Papa Roach
  • Jill Scott
  • Sisqo

Shelby Lynne, a country music veteran, switched to bluesy pop and won Best New Artist. She was understandably shocked, given that she’d released six albums during the twelve years leading up to her win. Brad Paisley represented Lynne’s former genre, and has been nominated for many Grammys since. He has yet to win one.


  • Backstreet Boys
  • Andrea Bocelli
  • Dixie Chicks
  • Lauryn Hill
  • Natalie Imbruglia

Good as the Chicks’ first major-label album was, they were no match for Hill’s Grammy-dominating juggernaut. They’ve had a far better track record since, as they have won thirteen Grammys to date.


  • Garbage
  • Jewel
  • No Doubt
  • LeAnn Rimes
  • Tony Rich Project

Grammy pretty much nailed it this year. No Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani has gone on to major success, and Garbage and Jewel still have dedicated followings, but LeAnn Rimes has been a remarkably consistent record-seller, regardless of how pop or country her music is.


  • Brandy
  • Hootie & The Blowfish
  • Alanis Morissette
  • Joan Osborne
  • Shania Twain

Hootie and Morrissette each sold over fifteen million copies of their breakthrough albums, making even Shania Twain’s record sales seem small; The Woman in Me had moved about five million by the time of the Grammys. She’d certainly go on to be the biggest seller in the end, and she won Best Country Album for Woman that night.


  • Arrested Development
  • Billy Ray Cyrus
  • Sophie B. Hawkins
  • Kris Kross
  • Jon Secada

How many one-hit wonders can you squeeze into one category? None of the five contenders have made a lasting impact on recorded music, but they all put out some damn catchy singles in their day. “Tennessee” by the winning Arrested Development is still one of my favorite songs of that era.


  • Sheila E.
  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood
  • Cory Hart
  • The Judds
  • Cyndi Lauper

The Judds would win five Grammys over the course of their rather short recording career, but there was no shame in losing to Lauper, who was riding the success of her immortal “Time After Time”, a classic that even Willie Nelson has recorded.


  • The Carpenters
  • Elton John
  • Melba Moore
  • Anne Murray
  • The Partridge Family

You can still program an AC station using just the artists nominated this year.


  • Cream
  • Jose Feliciano
  • Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
  • Jeannie C. Riley
  • O. C. Smith

I don’t care what anyone says. Jeannie C. Riley is one of the best damn country artists of all-time.


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