With more than 100 million records sold worldwide, including 18 number-one hit singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 – a dozen with the Supremes and half a dozen as a solo artist – Diana Ross is unimpeachably among the most successful and celebrated musicians of all time.
Ross has amassed no shortage of accolades over the past six decades, including seven American Music Awards, a Best Actress Oscar nomination (for Lady Sings the Blues), a Special Tony Award, the Kennedy Center Honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Remarkably, despite all of this recognition, a prize that has remained elusive is the Grammy. While Ross received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, she has yet to score a competitive prize.
That isn’t to say Ross is a stranger to the Grammys – in fact, she was among the most honored artists from the 1960s through the 1980s, earning a total of 12 Grammy nominations from 1965 to 1983. As part of the Supremes, Ross earned a Best R&B Recording nomination for “Baby Love,” plus a Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Group Vocal Performance bid for “Stop! In the Name of Love.”
Post-Supremes, a plethora of nominations would follow, with appearances in Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (for “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Touch Me in the Morning”), Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (for “Call Me,” “Love Hangover,” “Your Love Is So Good for Me,” “Upside Down” and “Muscles”), Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group (“Ease on Down the Road” with Michael Jackson), Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group (“Endless Love” with Lionel Richie) and Record of the Year (“Endless Love”).
Now, nearly four decades since her last competitive Grammy nomination, Ross is on the verge of finally breaking this losing streak with a bid in Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Thank You. Written and recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic, Thank You marked Ross’s first studio album in 15 years and was greeted to rave reviews.
Will Ross’s 13th career Grammy nomination finally produce a win? Let’s take a look at her competition.
This year’s Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album lineup is stacked with Grammy favorites, including four-time winner Michael Bublé (Higher), three-time winner Kelly Clarkson (When Christmas Comes Around…), nine-time winner Norah Jones (I Dream of Christmas) and three-time winner Pentatonix (Evergreen). It’s undoubtedly a formidable field and yet, three of these contenders have a steep hurdle to overcome.
Since the inception of this category in 1992, 15 holiday albums have scored nominations – and none of them have prevailed. With these bids from Kelly Clarkson, Norah Jones and Pentatonix, that number has jumped to 18. This isn’t to say none of these artists can triumph. In fact, Pentatonix has never lost at the Grammys, going 3-for-3 on their bids to date. Nonetheless, with voters historically keen on recognizing holiday albums for nominations but never wins in this category, there is a challenging feat for these artists to conquer.
If bias against holiday albums indeed persists, it may be Bublé who proves Ross’s most formidable competition.
At four wins, Bublé trails only Tony Bennett for most victories by an artist in Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. He’s a contender never to be underestimated but is also hardly an invincible force. Bublé has not triumphed in this category since 2014, falling short in his two most recent bids, and Higher has not proven the commercial success of his past Grammy bids, marking his first nominated album not to reach the Billboard 200.
If there’s a daunting statistic for Ross, it’s the fact that, over the history of this category, a mere three female artists have triumphed for solo efforts – Natalie Cole (twice), Patti Page and Joni Mitchell. k.d. Lang and Lady Gaga have prevailed here but for collaborations with Tony Bennett, not solo albums. The likes of Barbra Streisand, Rosemary Clooney, Bette Midler, and Bernadette Peters have all made at least three appearances in Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, but none have won.
All things considered, this category lacks a clear front-runner. In the end, voters’ bias against holiday albums, coupled with Ross being the lone contender here without a win, might just be the combination that finally results in a Grammy for this living legend.
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