Coming to the Grammy Awards next year: a new prize for songwriter of the year.
That award, given in recognition of “the written excellence, profession and art of songwriting,” is one of a handful of tweaks to the Grammys for the 65th annual ceremony.
Four other new categories are coming, including best alternative music performance, Americana music performance, spoken word poetry album and score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media, the Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys, announced Thursday. There will also be a new merit award for best song for social change.
The biggest change is the songwriter award. Since the first Grammy ceremony in 1959, song of the year has been one of the most prestigious prizes, going to the composers of a single song. The first winners were Franco Migliacci and Domenico Modugno, for “Nel Blu, Dipinto di Blu” (better known as “Volare”), and the most recent prize went to Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and two collaborators for “Leave the Door Open.”
In recent years songwriters have been lobbying the Recording Academy for greater recognition, which has come gradually. At the 60th annual Grammys in 2018, songwriters were added to the ballot for album of the year, although only if they contributed to at least 33% of an LP; for the 2022 show, that limit was eliminated, allowing any credited songwriter of new material to be nominated. (Samples don’t count, nor do the writers of old songs — hence Cole Porter’s omission for Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s album “Love for Sale.”)
The new category, officially called songwriter of the year (nonclassical) — although no classical counterpart exists — will go to a single songwriter or a team of writers for a given body of work. A similar approach has long been taken for producer of the year.
“The intent with this new category is to recognize the professional songwriters who write songs for other artists to make a living,” said Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. “This dedicated award highlights the importance of songwriting’s significant contribution to the musical process.”This article originally appeared in The New York Times.