By Joe Coscarelli/New York Times/February 5, 2023
After 88 career nominations, the R&B singer and pop superstar won her 32nd Grammy on Sunday, for best dance/electronic music album, giving her the record for most Grammy victories. Solti, a Hungarian-born conductor who was the previous leader, won his last award in 1998, the year after his death.
Beyoncé’s fourth win of the night — after taking home best R&B song for “Cuff It” and two awards at the preshow ceremony — came in a category that showed the breadth of her two-decade career: “Renaissance,” her tribute to Black and queer dance music, beat work by Bonobo, Diplo, Odesza and Rüfüs du Sol. Beyoncé became the first Black woman to win in the dance album category, which has been awarded since 2005.
Earlier, her No. 1 single “Break My Soul” had won in best dance/electronic recording, while “Plastic Off the Sofa,” from the same genre-spanning album, won best traditional R&B performance.
After the winner for dance/electronic album was announced by James Corden — “This is an honor, because we are witnessing history tonight!” — Beyoncé, who had not yet arrived at the ceremony when she won her first televised award of the night, took the stage to a standing ovation.
“I’m trying not to be too emotional,” she said, “and I’m trying to just receive this night.” (Already, a post had been uploaded to Beyoncé’s official Instagram celebrating her wins so far: “We won 3 y’all,” the caption read, alongside a photo of the singer with a trio of trophies. “‘Plastic Off the Sofa’ is my favorite song on ‘Renaissance’ most days. It’s hard to pick though. Haaa.”)
Beyoncé went on to thank her “Uncle Jonny,” whose battle with H.I.V. she has cited as an influence on her turn to dance music, with its historical ties to the L.G.B.T.Q. community.
“I’d like to thank the queer community for your love and for inventing the genre,” the singer said.
Nominated nine times overall on Sunday, mostly for “Renaissance” and its songs, Beyoncé will have a chance to add to her total with the top categories still to come: song, record and album of the year, a prize she has never won despite three previous chances. Of the singer’s 32 trophies, just her song of the year victory in 2010, for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” came in one of the Grammys’ major, all-genre fields.
Beyoncé’s status as both a perennial, now-unmatched Grammy favorite and also a high-profile loser under the ceremony’s brightest lights — including album losses to both Adele and Taylor Swift, each of whom has won the category multiple times — has underlined the show’s complex relationship with contemporary Black music.
While the Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys, has in recent years emphasized its commitment to showcasing hip-hop and R&B on the telecast, and to broadening its voter base, critics have contended that Black music has too often been overlooked in the top categories.
Beyoncé had entered the night already the most awarded woman in Grammy history, and tied with the producer Quincy Jones, who has 28 wins, for second most overall trophies. Alison Krauss, the bluegrass singer and violinist who was nominated twice on Sunday but lost both awards, has 27, as does Chick Corea.
Here’s Beyoncé’s entire speech:
“I’m trying not to be too emotional, and I’m trying to just receive this night. I want to thank God for protecting me. Thank you, God. I’d like to thank my Uncle Jonny, who’s not here, but he’s here in spirit. I’d like to thank my parents — my father, my mother — for loving me and pushing me. I’d like to thank my beautiful husband, my beautiful three children, who are at home watching. I’d like to thank the queer community for your love and for inventing the genre. God bless you. Thank you so much to the Grammys. Thank you.”
Joe Coscarelli is a culture reporter with a focus on pop music. His work seeks to pull back the curtain on how hit songs and emerging artists are discovered, made and marketed. He previously worked at New York magazine and The Village Voice. @joecoscarelli