Alessia Cara defends herself after winning best new artist Grammy

The 60th Annual Grammy Awards as seen on CBS.

What’s a Grammy ceremony without controversy? This year’s affair has already had the troublesome proclamation from Recording Academy President and chief executive Neil Portnow that women artists need to “step up” in order to be better represented at future award ceremonies. After artists like Pink, Charli XCX and Sheryl Crow struck back Portnow later released a rather half-assed apology for his comments, admitting, “I regret that I wasn’t as articulate as I should have been.” But wait, there’s more.

The only woman who took home a Grammy in the general categories on Sunday night was Alessia Cara, winning Best New Artist. Fans of the other nominees for the prize – Khalid, Lil Uzi Vert, Julia Michaels and SZA – cried foul, pointing out that Alessia released her breakthrough single, “Here”, in 2015. Technically, according to the Recording Academy’s guidelines, the award is “For a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist.” “Here” was released two year prior, so they all may be onto something here. There were also those reports noting she was snubbed from receiving the same nomination last year.

The 21-year-old singer took to social media to defend herself. On Monday, she made a lengthy post on Instagram, stating she had nothing to do with her win, and admitting that “I am not going to be upset about something I’ve wanted since I was a kid, not to mention have worked really hard for.” She encouraged her fans to give other up and coming artists the same reception they’ve given her, reinforcing her idea that everyone deserves the “same shot” she was given. It’s really heartfelt, and I kind of feel bad that her big day was marred by negativity.

to address the apparent backlash regarding winning something I had no control over: I didn’t log onto and submit myself. that’s not how it works. I didn’t ask to be submitted either because there are other artists that deserve the acknowledgment. but I was nominated and won and I am not going to be upset about something I’ve wanted since I was a kid, not to mention have worked really hard for. I meant everything I said about everyone deserving the same shot. there is a big issue in the industry that perpetuates the idea that an artist’s talent and hard work should take a back seat to popularity and numbers. and I’m aware that my music wasn’t released yesterday, I’m aware that, yes, my music has become fairly popular in the last year. but I’m trying very hard to use the platform I’ve been given to talk about these things and bring light to issues that aren’t fair, all while trying to make the most of the weird, amazing success I’ve been lucky enough to have. I will not let everything I’ve worked for be diminished by people taking offence to my accomplishments and feeling the need to tell me how much I suck. here’s something fun! I’ve been thinking I suck since I was old enough to know what sucking meant. I’ve beat u to it. And that’s why this means a lot to me. despite my 183625 insecurities, I’ve been shown that what I’ve created is worth something and that people actually give a shit. all of the years feeling like I wasn’t good at anything or that I was naive for dreaming about something improbable have paid off in a way that I have yet to process. I know it sounds cheesy and dumb but it’s the honest truth. thanks to everyone who’s shown me kindness and support along the way. I’ll stop talking now.

A post shared by ALESSIA CARA (@alessiasmusic) on

In looking back at the history of the Best New Artist Grammy, it’s certainly had its ups and downs. You probably wouldn’t have wanted to win one in the 1970s, that’s for sure (Starland Vocal Band, anyone? A Taste of Honey?) Hell, Milli Vanilli won that award back in 1990 (only to have it taken away after the band was found out to be made up of male models lip syncing over studio musicians’ vocals). And look at some of the artists who were nominated but didn’t win: Taylor Swift (2008, lost to Amy Winehouse), Kayne West (2005, lost to Maroon 5) and – like him or not – Justin Bieber, who lost in 2011 to Esperanza Spalding. All I’m saying, fans of those other artists, is that losing a Grammy is not the end of a musical career. It could be just the beginning…unless you’re the Starland Vocal Band.

2017 American Music (AMA) Awards

60th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Arrivals

Photos: Instagram, Getty Images,

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

31 Responses to “Alessia Cara defends herself after winning best new artist Grammy”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Nicole says:

    This Grammy is so stupid because it makes little sense. SZA should’ve won it hands down but no need to hate the girl that actually won

    • diana says:

      Good thing SZA and Khalid didn’t win. It means they’ll have lengthy and successful careers.

      • Xi Tang says:

        It’s also not true that she/her team didn’t submit her name to grammys. I do like her and she has a distinctive voice.

      • Nicole says:

        I have no doubts. They put out debut work that would put most season professionals to shame

      • SlightlyAnonny says:

        Yeah, I’d always heard this is the one not to win because your career was doomed. If that’s true, I’m happy she won? I don’t wish her career ill, I liked the song “Here.” I just like the others more.

  2. Millennial says:

    I like her and she has a great voice (still jamming to the Moana song). And I feel like this past year was her first “big” year at least from the perspective of an “old” person who doesn’t know a lot of new artists — largely due to How Far I’ll Go and Scars to Your Beautiful — so I think winning this year makes sense.

  3. V4Real says:

    A Grammy is like the academy award, it doesn’t mean you’re the best. Someone said the best new artist category has a 3 year lifespan, thanks for clearing that up.

    But yeah how can you win new artist when you’ve been out for over three years. She has to understand the backlash. I know it’s something she wanted and she’s right about it’s not her who threw her name in the basket. But she still could have said, hey I’m not a new artist, what am I doing in this category. I kind of like her but she was not a new artist according to the Grammys guideline. BTW, SZA is not a new artist either. She’s been out since 2012. Maybe the old Grammy hat’s need to do more research

    • ol cranky says:

      Cindy Lauper won best new artist and her nomination wasn’t without similar complaints – while she wasn’t a start, she had been fronting a band that had recorded an album years prior. the grammys have been inconsistent with application of their rules

    • starkiller says:

      Well, if the rules are such that none of the artists in the category are actually new artists, SZA still should’ve won.

  4. Erinn says:

    It makes me mad that she has to defend herself. The only woman to get one of the general awards that night, and here she is having to defend why she deserved something she got.

    I think it’s something that’s unfortunately not uncommon for a lot of us. Defending why we got a raise or promotion or job. Why we deserve it. Why we beat out other candidates. And it’s incredibly unfair.

    I had actually never heard the 2015 song. I DID hear “Scars to Your Beautiful” and “Stay” CONSTANTLY this past year – having never heard of her before. And I’m willing to bet that was the case for a lot of people.

    At the end of the day – the Grammy’s are basically a joke. Looking at the categories and those nominated – there are a LOT of other people that need to be questioned about their worthiness if people are going to pull this with Alessia.

  5. Jussie says:

    I think people forget The Grammy’s are usually about 18 months behind what’s happening in music. Just look at most Best Album winners. Bruno just won for a 2016 album, which is not an abnormal timeline at all.

    Cara’s been around a while but she only really broke out in late 2016. Since the Grammy’s are slow to react, her winning now is to be expected, and again, not at all unusual for her category. For example you mention Amy Winehouse won in 2008, despite the fact Frank came out 5 years earlier and Back to Black 2 years earlier. Maroon 5 won in 2005 despite Songs About Jane coming out 3 years earlier. Lauryn Hill won in 1999 despite the fact she was already hugely famous as part of The Fugees. There’s a lot more examples like that.

  6. BaronSamedi says:

    Her post is actually the perfect response. Good for her.

  7. Beth says:

    I’m a ginormous music fan, but I must be really stuck in the past when it comes to music, because I’ve never even heard of her or any of the other nominees

    • deets says:

      I really liked this one by Alessia
      Scars to Your Beautiful

    • Veronica says:

      For her, yeah, you kind of are. :p She’s been all over the radio and done a ton of remixes and duets this year. The others I can understand more since they didn’t have as large of a mainstream music presence. I only know of SZA through Lainey Gossip.

      • Beth says:

        I really don’t think any of the nominees music would be on the radio stations I listen to though. I’ve probably heard one at a store or restaurant, but I doubt one of her songs would be on a hard rock /heavy metal station on my radio.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        The crazy thing is that radio stations have been monopolized. There many cities where 1 company owns all of the stations in a given format. If you are only getting new music from radio, you are only hearing what that company wants to sell you.

      • CK3 says:

        It really depends on your radio dial though. Cara isn’t being played on Hiphop/R&B stations while Sza is. Not even the suicide song crossovers. Likewise, most of Sza’s spin on pop stations is from that Maroon 5 song and not any single from Ctrl now.

  8. serena says:

    Honestly, she doesn’t need to defend herself.

  9. deets says:

    Brampton represent 😉
    She shouldn’t have to defend herself. At least she was there to collect her award…

    • starkiller says:

      So artists should plan tours, etc around the date of the Grammys so they’ll be free just in case they’re nominated and win? Wouldn’t that be a little presumptuous?

  10. Starryfish says:

    Her debut album was really great, and she’s been featured on so many successful songs over the past year. The only upsetting thing about her winning is the prospect of her falling victim to the best new artist curse.

  11. Dee says:

    I hate that she has to defend herself. Wtf. She IS talented. She DID release a handful of really great, inspiring songs. She IS successful and she IS popular. So what’s wrong with her win? That she’s not as edgey as Sza? That she’s not a man like Khalid? GMAFB. The girl worked hard and she’s still going. Even if the Grammy’s don’t mean anything, it means something to her and very obviously a lot of other people who are so upset by her win. Good for Cara.

  12. Tallia says:

    I have been listening to SZA since about 2014. I think it was called “Z” (her release). I think this followed her release of “s”. (She was spelling her name or something). I have been listening to Cara since 2016. So, I am confused how both of them could have been nominated. Can someone explain it all to me?

    • Saks says:

      I think it has to do with not exceeding a certain number of songs released before getting the nomintions. But I would think that how long they’ve been active in the business should be taken more seriously

  13. perplexed says:

    Had no opinion on her either way before the win, but I find her quite pleasant (not joking) after reading her Instagram posts. I find most Instagram posts pretty useless to read, but I liked this one.

  14. Ky says:

    I don’t think she should have defended herself. It wasn’t necessary. There is nobody that disputes that she’s talented. Sometimes a controversy can happen adjacent to you and have nothing to do with you. Like in this instance. It actually isn’t about her. It is about the Grammy’s seemingly arbitrary policies.

  15. Ozogirl says:

    Best New Artist shouldn’t even be a category. If they are the “best” they will eventually win for their work.

  16. kimbers says:

    Ya it was a big year for her, but still say she’s not a new artist. whatevs.

    link to her teenvogue interview from 2016 where she says she’s hoping to get a Nom for best new artist for Scars