Last weekend, the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, one of music's biggest nights, aired on CBS. There were some incredible performances including Kesha's powerful and inspiring rendition of her song Praying, Pink's raw, artistic performance of her song "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken" and Logic's words in support of women and immigrants. Esteemed artists like Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars were amongst the winners of the night bringing home the Grammys for Best Pop Vocal Album/Best Pop Solo Performance (Ed) and Album of the Year and Record of the Year (Bruno). There were a few controversies this year, including the number of male winners significantly outweighing the number of females (there was one female winner), but one, in particular, resonates with me
Alessia Cara, whose first single "Here" dropped in 2015 and peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, won the Grammy for "Best New Artist," and it caused more uproar than expected. Scrolling through my social feed following this, I saw numerous tweets, posts, and comments negatively addressing her win. This reaction is, obviously, expected. Not everyone is going to be satisfied. It would be fine if these particular comments were regarding the disbelief that the artist they prefer didn't win rather than malicious remarks towards or about Alessia herself. The latter was the case, however, and it was so aggressive that Alessia posted this to her Instagram Monday morning, January 29:
We tend to culturally dehumanize celebrities. This manifests itself in different ways, whether it be because of their wealth, their fame or their talent. They are unreachable, like the Greek and Roman gods, although they are human, Their lifestyle is so foreign to most of us it's hard to connect or look at them as if they're on the same level as us because in every other aspect they're not. Therefore we think nothing of treating them as if they're inhuman. As if because of their standing in the socioeconomic pyramid they're untouchable and immune to feeling hurt by negative words and criticism. So, when we address them online via Instagram or Twitter we don't see the human behind the brand they've created for themselves, we see Alessia Cara: the singer. We don't see the young woman who's made a name for herself but is still growing up and finding her way in the world. To have won an award, recognizing the hard work and dedication you've put towards your craft is an incredible feeling, that of which disgruntled and dissatisfied music fans took away from Alessia. A monumental moment she was supposed to cherish is now tainted by the negative feedback she received despite having no control of the outcome.
Whether or not you agree on who won the award, the artist is not at fault. As Alessia wrote in her Instagram post, she did not submit her name for consideration. She did not in any way influence the decision-making process, and she even admits to believing there are other deserving artists out there. In her acceptance speech, she made a point of encouraging viewers to "support real music and real artists," because, "Everyone deserves the same shot." The fact that the resistance reached her and made her feel, in the midst of celebrating a monumental moment in her career, the need to explain herself is heartbreaking.
She's come a long way since the release of her debut EP, Four Pink Walls, in 2015. "Here," her debut single from this EP, was ranked #21 on Rolling Stone's year-end list of the "50 Best Songs of 2015" and it was included in Billboard's "20 Pop Songs You Need for Your Summer Playlist." She's impacted the charts with multiple singles including: "Here," (#5 on Top 100) "Wild Things," "Scars to Your Beautiful," (#8 on Top 100) and "How Far I'll Go." She's also collaborated on a few songs like "Stay," with Zedd and "1-800-273-8255," with Logic and Khalid. "Although she's not a relatively "new" artist, she's earned the recognition she's finally received from the Recording Academy. Every nominated artist was deserving of the award and was each nominated because they've stood out amongst the rest. Alessia has been around for a few years, and it's about time her talent is no longer overlooked.
Never forget the essence of your spark!