Recalling 5 Chicagoans Who Have Won a Grammy Award

on Jan13

13 January 2018 | 12:26 am

The CBS network will broadcast the 60th annual Grammy Awards ceremony live on January 28 from Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

The Grammy Awards, which recognizes distinguished artists in the music industry, had used the Staples Center in Los Angeles as its venue since February 2004. However, the event’s organizers chose to return to Gotham to celebrate its longstanding history. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is thrilled that the Grammys will be presented at “the World’s Most Famous Arena” and the estimated $200 million financial windfall that Manhattan will accrue from the spectacle.

“Playing host to the music industry’s marquee awards show is a unique creative, artistic and economic boon to the rich cultural fabric of our city,” de Blasio told “We welcome the Grammy Awards back to New York City with open arms and we look forward to continuing to partner with a music industry that supports access and empowerment in the arts.”

Since premiering in May 1959, a diverse array of Chicagoans have earned Grammy Awards. With that noted, let’s revisit five occasions over the past quarter-century when local entertainers had their achievements honored.


R. KELLY was born Robert Sylvester Kelly and raised in the Windy City’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Kelly secured three Grammy Awards in 1998 for his song “I Believe I Can Fly.” Roughly 17 years later, Kelly was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2015 after working alongside fellow Chicagoan Jennifer Hudson on their R&B hit “It’s Your World.” The decorated singer and songwriter told the Chicago Tribune in July 2017 that he is determined to return to prominence following a scandalous past.

The controversial Kelly, one of the most successful R&B artists of the last 25 years, has been accused of sexual relations with underage women, sexual abuse, assault and overseeing an abusive cult.

“I didn’t know if I was going to make it in the ‘90s,” said Kelly, 51, who played professional basketball for the United States Basketball League’s Atlantic City Seagulls from 1997 through 1999.

“I gave the people what I felt that I had inside of me, and the people loved it. I’m still here, you know? And I’m going to try my best to continue and to keep giving good music, good, classic music that people can listen to forever.”


Unrivaled talent Common collaborated with Erykah Badu to clinch a 2003 Grammy Award for their R&B song “Love of My Life.” Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. in Hyde Park, is the only rapper in history to win an Emmy, Oscar and Grammy award. Common sealed his unprecedented feat when he captured an Emmy for his song “Letter to the Free.” The multifaceted Chi-Town native’s song was featured on Ava DuVernay’s documentary film “13th.”

“I want to thank god first and foremost,” the 45-year-old Common told Deadline. “Any time I get a chance to work with Ava DuVernay it leads to something positive, something strong.”


Lupe Fiasco and Jill Scott obtained a Grammy in 2008 for his song “Daydreamin.” Fiasco, born Wasalu Muhammad Jaco and raised on Chicago’s West Side, is a devout Muslim who denounces the vulgarity and misogyny often associated with rap. The principled MC discussed the difficulties of following the practices of Islam in such a notoriously lewd industry with journalist Katie Couric.

“It just depends on who you put yourself around,” said Fiasco, 35. “I’ll see friends who smoke and unfortunately some friends who drink, and some other things that we’re not supposed to be seeing or doing…at the end of the day we’re human.”


Jennifer Hudson gained a Grammy Award for musical theater in February 2017 for her role in Broadway’s “The Color Purple.” Hudson, an Englewood native who graduated from Dunbar Vocational High School in 1999, initially attracted attention when she finished as a finalist on “American Idol” in 2004. Despite constructing an extremely impressive résumé, Hudson is perhaps best known for singing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” at the 54th Grammy Awards less than 24 hours after the iconic singer died on February 11, 2012.


Kanye West is an extraordinarily polarizing figure. On the flipside, the 40-year-old West is also an incredibly gifted singer and songwriter. West, who moved to Chicago at the age of three with his mother, has collected the most Grammy Awards this decade with seven. Of all his accolades, West is particularly lauded for winning the Best Rap Album award for “Yeezus” at the Grammys in 2008. Anthony Kilhoffer, a respected engineer and producer, contends that West’s feud with 50 Cent inspired his work on that acclaimed album.

“Definitely,” said Kilhoffer.  “At the time Fifty was still huge. You always have to raise the bar, and that helped. Once the ‘sophomore slump’ was put to rest, he had to have something to fight against. Every movie has a villain — even in real life you have to challenge yourself.”

The Grammy Awards ceremony is scheduled to commence at 6:30 p.m. CST.

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