A few days ago, Billboard decided to broach the subject of who should be considered “The Real Queen of the Grammys“? Adele, Taylor Swift, or Beyoncé? No offense to these three women of music, all of whom are quite commercially accomplished and critically-acclaimed. But it appears that Billboard is missing a name in their discussion, and it is a big one from the bluegrass and country world.
Of course nobody would proclaim Alison Krauss as big of a superstar as Adele, Taylor Swift, or Beyoncé. But if we’re talking about Grammy Awards, she absolutely has to be in the discussion, and Alison wasn’t even mentioned in the Billboard piece. It’s underscores how often country and roots artists get diminished in these kinds of deliberations.
Until 2021, Alison Krauss was the most-awarded woman in Grammy Awards history, one of the most awarded regardless of gender, and one of the most nominated too. And this was not just in bluegrass-centric categories, though these make up the majority of her wins. Krauss also has been nominated and won in country and Americana categories, as well as walking away with all-genre Album of the Year wins via the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack in 2002, and her collaboration with Robert Plant called Raising Sand in 2009.
Let’s take a deeper look.
Most Overall Grammy Wins:
In the categories of categories, Alison Krauss comes in at #2, and up until 2021, she was beating Beyoncé. That’s a pretty big deal for an artist whose discipline is bluegrass.
Alison Krauss: 27
Taylor Swift: 12
Most Overall Grammy Nominations:
Obviously, Beyoncé has doubled up Krauss in this category, but Alison is right there in the mix with nearly as many as Taylor Swift.
Taylor Swift: 46
Alison Krauss: 44
Most Album of the Year Wins
Okay, in fairness, both of Krauss’s Album of the Year wins came as collaborations (O Brother Where Art Thou and Raising Sand with Robert Plant). But a win is a win, and most anyone would tell you it was Alison’s participation in these albums that put them over the top. When it comes to the Grammy’s biggest award, Alison Krauss has been there on the stage at the end of the night. Twice. And two times more than Beyoncé.
Taylor Swift: 3
Alison Krauss: 2
Most Wins in “Big Four” Categories
This includes New Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and (the always confusing) Record of the Year. Again, Alison has been right there in the mix with her big Album of the Year wins, along with Record of the Year win for the song “Please Read The Letter” with Robert Plant.
Taylor Swift: 3
Alison Krauss: 3
Most Wins on a Single Night (by a woman)
Just like all the other big names throughout music, Alison Krauss enjoyed that dominating night when she walked away with five awards including in all-genre categories in 2009.
Alison Krauss: 5
Taylor Swift: 4
In conclusion, is Alison Krauss the “Queen of the Grammy Awards”? No. It’s probably Beyoncé, and perhaps it should be. Though part of the reason for the incredible amount of Beyoncé nominations and wins in secondary categories is due to the constant criticism the Grammy Awards somehow receive for not nominating and awarding her enough, especially in the “Big Four” categories.
But when we’re having these kinds of discussions, let’s not overlook country and roots contributors. There is a reason Taylor Swift jumped ship to pop, even after winning six Grammy Awards as a country artist first. It’s because there is a ceiling over these artists that is erected by the stereotype that you can only be so big in country.
The Grammy Awards have always been more about quality than commercial appeal compared to other awards, especially country music’s CMA and ACM Awards. Alison Krauss had an incredible run in the ’90s and into the 2000s, riding the wave of interest in bluegrass that took the discipline to the very top of popularity. It’s one of the reasons she should be considered for the Country Music Hall of Fame. A great singer and fiddle player who also found commercial appeal, her contributions should not be overshadowed by anyone.