Top 10 Best New Artist Grammy Award Winners

Grammy Award
Photo courtesy the Recording Academy

Ever since Bobby Darin received the first Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1959, many winners of the award have failed to ever reach the success of their celebrated debut year. Artists like the Starland Vocal Band and A Taste of Honey struggled to achieve follow-ups to their huge first major hits and have since been relegated to one-hit wonder status. However, in some years the Grammy Awards have managed to hit the target and shine the spotlight on future legends. 

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Beatles (1965)

Photo by Central Press / Hulton Archive

The Beatles had one of the biggest opening chart years in the history of pop music in the U.S. At one point in April 1964, they held the top five positions on the U.S. pop singles chart. Four of their albums hit #1 on the album chart during the year.

The Beatles went on to become arguably the top pop band of all time. Between 1964 and 1970, they hit #1 on the U.S. pop singles chart twenty times, a record no recording artist has managed to beat. Their music has had an enormous influence on pop music and an incalculable number of artists have followed in their footsteps.

Watch the Beatles perform "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" live.

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Mariah Carey (1991)

Mariah Carey
Photo by Paul Morigi / WireImage

Mariah Carey's self-titled debut album was the buzz of the music industry when it was first released. Her label, Columbia Records, spent $1 million promoting it. The efforts paid off. The album spent eleven weeks at #1 on the album chart and included four #1 pop hit singles including the first "Vision of Love."

Known now as one of the legendary divas of pop music, Mariah Carey has reached #1 on the U.S. pop music chart eighteen times, more than any artist but the Beatles. She is credited with worldwide record sales exceeding 200 million.

Watch Mariah Carey sing "Hero" live.

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Carpenters (1971)

The Carpenters
Photo by GAB Archive / Redferns

Richard and Karen Carpenter signed to the A&M record label in 1969. Their debut album Offering was released in late 1969, and it proved to be a commercial failure. Their single, a cover of the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride" reached #54 on the pop singles chart. Their follow up Close To You performed much better. It included the #1 smash hits the title song and "We've Only Just Begun." The album reached #2 on the chart.

The Carpenters were one of the most successful pop duos of all time until Karen Carpenter's untimely death in 1983. They reached the top 10 of the pop singles chart with ten more releases, and their worldwide record sales total over 100 million.

Watch the Carpenters perform "Superstar" live.

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Adele (2009)

Photo by Sascha Steinbach / Getty Images

Adele won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist on the strength of her first album 19 which was a mild commercial success in the U.S. It included the song "Chasing Pavements" which climbed to #21 on the U.S. pop singles chart.

Adele's next two albums 21 and 25 have both sold approximately ten million copies in the U.S. alone. They both generated #1 hit singles and combined for a total of twelve Grammy Awards.

Watch Adele sing "Hello" live.

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Sheryl Crow (1995)

Sheryl Crow
Photo by Lester Cohen / WireImage

Sheryl Crow began her career as a music teacher. That job helped fund her singing in bands on the weekend. She toured with Michael Jackson as a backup vocalist after some success singing commercial jingles. She recorded her first solo album in 1992 and it was scrapped by the record label. Finally, her album Tuesday Night Music Club, named after a loosely organized group of musicians and songwriters, was released and it became a smash hit in the fall of 1994 on the strength of the single "All I Wanna Do." Sheryl Crow won three Grammy Awards for music from the album including Record of the Year for "All I Wanna Do."

Seven consecutive top 10 charting studio albums followed Sheryl Crow's first. She also released five more top 20 charting pop hit singles. Sheryl Crow is credited with selling over 50 million albums worldwide.

Watch Sheryl Crow sing "Strong Enough" live.

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Alicia Keys (2002)

Alicia Keys
Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen / Getty Images

Alicia Keys was a protege of Clive Davis, one of the most successful music industry executives of all time. As such, her debut album Songs in A Minor was closely watched by the music industry. It debuted at #1 on the U.S. album chart and ultimately was certified six times platinum. It includes the #1 pop hit single "Fallin'."

The momentum continued on the album The Diary of Alicia Keys, another #1 hit on the album chart and included three more top 10 pop hit singles. Alicia Keys has continued to generate significant hit singles and is considered one of the most talented performers in the music industry.

Watch Alicia Keys sing "Girl on Fire" live.

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Carly Simon (1972)

Carly Simon
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives

Carly Simon's self-titled debut album was produced by Eddie Kramer, known for his work with Joe Cocker and Jimi Hendrix. It included the top 10 charting single "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be." Most critics considered the album a success and it reached #30 on the album chart.

On her third album No Secrets, the song "You're So Vain" made Carly Simon a legend. She has five top 10 pop hit singles and five platinum certified albums to her credit. She won an Academy Award for Best Original Song with "Let the River Run" from Working Girl. Carly Simon is a member of the Songwriter Hall of Fame.

Watch Carly Simon sing "Haven't Got Time for the Pain" live.

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Amy Winehouse (2008)

Amy Winehouse
Photo by Daniel Boczarski / Redferns

Although Amy Winehouse's 2003 debut album Frank was a success in the U.K., It was relatively unknown in the U.S. She was allowed to compete for the Best New Artist award on the strength of her second album Back To Black. It was a #2 charting album in the U.S. and included the celebrated top 10 pop hit single "Rehab."

Amy Winehouse never released another full-length studio album before her untimely death in 2011. During that time her reputation as one of the top female R&B singers of all time continued to grow. 

Watch Amy Winehouse sing "Love Is a Losing Game" live.

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Cyndi Lauper (1985)

Cyndi Lauper
Photo by Michael Putland / Hulton Archive

Cyndi Lauper was a music industry veteran when she finally recorded her debut solo album She's So Unusual. She performed with the band Blue Angel from 1980 through 1982. Lauper broke into the pop mainstream with the #2 charting hit "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." It was followed by the #1 smash "Time After Time."

Cyndi Lauper returned to the pop top 10 six more times. She also released the multi-platinum album True Colors. Lauper has become an icon in the LGBT community due to her support of LGBT activism, along with her insistence on remaining unique and true to herself. She wrote the music for the hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2013.

Watch Cyndi Lauper sing "Time After Time" live.

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John Legend (2006)

John Legend
Photo by Ian Gavan / Getty Images

John Legend collaborated with a wide range of other artists before the release of his debut solo album. One of the most prominent was rapper Kanye West. His first album Get Lifted debuted inside the top 10 on the album chart. It included the gold-certified single "Ordinary People" and Get Lifted won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Album in addition to his Best New Artist award.

Although his albums sold well and he earned seven more Grammy Award, John Legend did not score a major breakthrough pop hit song until "All of Me" went to #1 in 2013. In 2015, John Legend won an Academy Award for Best Original Song with "Glory" from the film of the same name.

Watch John Legend sing "All of Me" live.