BootLeg Betty

BetteBack February 26, 1995: A Look At Grammy’s Best New Artist’s Past

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February 26, 1995

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Whatever happened to …

In the Grammy world, there are big categories (Record of the Year), strange categories (Best Polka Album) and extinct categories (Best Disco Recording).

And then there are the fun ones like Best New Artist, home to some of the more interesting names over the Grammys’ ears. From the legendary (The Beatles ’64, Bette Midler ’73) to the luckless (Bobbie Gentry ’67, Rickie Lee Jones ’79) to the “why?!” (Starland Vocal Band ’76,
Debby Boone ’77), best new artists have come in all shapes and styles.

Here’s how the last decade’s winners are faring:

â–  1984 – Cyndi Lauper. The quirky singer/actress hasn’t duplicated the success of her “She’s So Unusual” splash, but she’s managed to loiter in the corner of the public eye. Lauper appeared last season on an episode of NBC’s “Mad About You,” and her greatest hits record —• an overseas smash that debuted in the Japanese Top IO last week — will be released stateside in May. Her last full-length album was shrugged off by press and public after its 1993 release.

â–  1985 – Sade. The Nigerian-born jazz-soul singer has been a fixture on the scene since “Diamond Life” put a sparkle on her name. She’s never quite hit superstar status in the United States, but she and her jazz combo have garnered a sizable mainstream audience with consistently quality releases, including 1992’s triple-platinum “Love Deluxe.” A greatest hits album peaked recently at No. 9, and the outfit is up for this year’s best group R&B performance Grammy.

â–  1986 – Bruce Hornsby & the Range. The Range-less “Harbor Lights” (1993) garnered modest sales and provided Hornsby with a couple of adult-contemporary chart nits. The virtuoso pianist toured extensively with the Grateful Dead in 1990 and has played on albums for artists from Bob Dylan to Stevie Nicks. Hornsby probably won’t relive his chart heyday, but don’t look for him to just disappear, either.

â–  1987 – Jody Watley. Ex Shalamar vocalist and Soul Train dancer Watley had six straight Top IO hits through 1990 — then virtually disappeared. The ballad heavy “Intimacy” (1993) was greeted with yawns, if at all. She rapped — or was dropped — from MCA Records last year, and an official at her Los Angeles attorney’s office recently said the firm hasn’t heard from Watley “in j some time.”

â–  1988 – Tracy Chapman. Her self-titled debut album took the rock, pop and folk worlds by storm. Her sophomore release wiggled into the Top IO before plummeting off the chart. She’s now on the college-club circuit after a couple of dormant years, and though she’s still got a place on the Elektra Records roster, there are no current plans for new product.

â–  1989 – No award.

â–  1990 – Mariah Carey. If you really need to ask, Manah’s jamming. “Music Box.” still riding the upper track of the charts IV* years into its release, has sold 8 million copies. Shes had eight No. l ’s, and her “Merry Christmas” album just sold 3 million copies in three months. She’s in the studio putting together a new album for year-end release, meanwhile busying herself with various nonprofit causes. Yeah, that’s jamming.

â–  1991 – Marc Cohn. Discovered by Carly Simon (herself the new-artist winner in 1971), this guy had his moment in the sun with “Walking in Memphis.” Though his follow-up didn t exactly make the mark, Cohn has maintained his insider status within the New York song-writing community (he appeared on Simon’s latest album). He’s recorded two songs for “The Cure” film soundtrack (due in April) and the lead single for an upcoming Atlantic Records tribute album, all while toiling on a solo piece tentatively slated to hit in late ’95.

â–  1992 – Arrested Development. These earthy-Southern-rap forefathers stumbled big-time with last year’c scattershot “ZinJalamaduni,” but don’t expect the Atlanta crew to drop away. They’re now in a Georgia studio hammering away at various projects, including a tune for the upcoming “Panthers” soundtrack. A new full-length may be out by New Year’s Day.

â–  1993 – Toni Braxton. “Toni Braxton” is at 5 million in sales and counting. And the sultry soul diva is up for this year’s best female R&B performance award, for “Breathe Again.” She’s doing just fine, thanks.

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