JANUARY 27, 2020
Yes she can — win a Grammy.
Michelle Obama can now add Grammy winner to her list of significant accomplishments, including her successes as a lawyer, initiatives as first lady, and her enviable arms (who doesn’t want Michelle Obama arms, really?). She took home the trophy for her audiobook recording of her memoir Becoming in the Best Spoken Word Album category on Sunday. Unfortunately, she wasn’t in attendance to collect her award, but presenter Esperanza Spalding (who beat out Justin Bieber and Drake for Best New Artist in 2011) said, “I will gladly accept on her behalf.”
It’s already shaping up to be quite a year for the Obama family, between Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s shout-out to Barack during the Golden Globes and now this victory for Michelle.
It’s not unusual for political figures to win in this category — the likes of Hillary Clinton, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Carter, and even Martin Luther King Jr. have won Grammys for their own audiobooks. Obama is just the latest in a long list of significant public figures to score Grammy gold in the Spoken Word Album category.
The former first lady beat out two other memoirs in the category, John Waters’ Mr. Know It All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder and the Beastie Boys’ Beastie Boys Book. She also won over spoken word album Sekou Andrews & The String Theory by National Poetry Slam Award winner Sekou Andrews and artistic collective String Theory, as well as Eric Alexandrakis’ spoken word experience I.V. Catatonia: 20 Years as a Two-Time Cancer Survivor about his experiences with cancer.
After releasing Becoming in November 2018, Obama toured the United States to sold-out crowds at events the size of concert venues. It sold more copies than any other book published in the United States in 2018, breaking that year’s record previously held by Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House in only 15 days.
Becoming traces Michelle Obama’s life from her early years on the South Side of Chicago to her academic and professional careers, her marriage to Barack, and the 2008 presidential campaign and election night that resulted in her husband being elected the 44th president of the United States.
While many have expressed a wish for Michelle to follow in her husband’s footsteps to the White House, she’s demurred. But when it comes to the Grammy Awards, it’s a family affair — Barack Obama has won twice for Best Spoken Word Album, both for his two memoirs, 2006’s Dreams From My Father and 2008’s The Audacity of Hope.