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Michelle Obama wins spoken-word Grammy for ‘Becoming’ audio book

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama won the 2020 Grammy for spoken word.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Michelle Obama beat the Beastie Boys and others Sunday, taking home the trophy in the 2020 Grammys’ spoken word category for her audio edition of “Becoming.”

With the win for her 2018 memoir about life as a black woman in America and her days in the White House, the former first lady — who was a big hit at last year’s ceremony — joins husband Barack Obama on the Grammys’ winners list.

The 44th president won spoken-word statues in 2006 for his recording of “Dreams From My Father” and another in 2008 for “The Audacity of Hope.”

Along with Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz’s “Beastie Boy Book” and John Waters’ “Mister Know It All” rounded out the trio of celebrity nominees in the category.

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“Sekou Andrews & the String Theory,” by spoken-word poet Sekou Andrews & the String Theory, and “I.V. Catatonia” by classically trained pianist Eric Alexandrakis, who chronicled 20 years of his life as a two-time cancer survivor, were also nominated.

“In ‘Becoming,’ [Michelle] Obama doesn’t write so much as talks to her readers as she always has to a nation that fell in love with her — in clear, frank and forthcoming terms, as a black woman in America with a bridge called her back and a wisdom to lay bare,” read The Times’ November 2018 review of the written book.

Other former White House dwellers with Grammys hardware include President Clinton, who won twice for spoken word and was nominated twice; President Carter, who has three statues; and former First Lady Hillary Clinton, who won once. Presidents Kennedy and Nixon were nominated once each.

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James Baldwin wrote, “No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time.”


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