For the most part, the Grammy Awards recognize excellence in music, although it’s important to note that the awards cover kinds of recorded audio aside from music. One of the most notable categories in this regard is Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling), as it yields Grammy nominations for people you wouldn’t usually expect to earn one, if you’re thinking about the Grammys as a music event. Case in point: Former first lady Michelle Obama has earned a nod in the category at the 2020 Grammys, for the audiobook version of Becoming, her best-selling memoir from 2018.
She’s up against some tough competition from actor John Waters, poet Sekou Andrews, and musician Eric Alexandrakis. Of course, there’s also Beastie Boys Book, which features a diverse, all-star cast of narrators that includes Steve Buscemi, Tim Meadows, Nas, Elvis Costello, Amy Poehler, Chuck D, John C. Reilly, Snoop Dogg, Will Ferrell, Maya Rudolph, LL Cool J, Jon Stewart, Talib Kweli, Jeff Tweedy, and, naturally, Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz.
This is not Obama’s first Grammy nomination, as she faced off against Bill Clinton at the 2013 Grammys (both lost to Janis Ian’s audiobook for Society’s Child: My Autobiography). She’s also not the first first lady to be nominated: Hillary Clinton won a Grammy for her audiobook, It Takes A Village, in 1997.
Find the full list of the 2020 Grammy nominees here.