Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album: Overdue Patti Smith vs. sentimental favorite Jimmy Carter?

patti smith jimmy carter grammy spoken word album

The Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album has always been a mixed bag, awarding comedians (Stephen Colbert), actors (Cynthia Nixon) and writers (Maya Angelou), among others. Several politicians have prevailed as well, including Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and comedian-turned-senator Al Franken. Who will take it this year?

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Another former president, Jimmy Carter, is in the running this year for “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.” Carter is a perennial nominee with eight total bids in this category and one past win, for “Our Endangered Values” in 2006. This year he could be a sentimental favorite after his recent battle with cancer, and voters may also be drawn to him as the only politician in this race during an election year.

But voters may have another sentimental choice in this contest. Legendary rocker Patti Smith is nominated for narrating the audiobook for Jo Nesbo‘s novel “Blood on Snow.” Smith’s candidacy is significant because she has never won a single Grammy for her music. It would be ironic for her, a 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, to finally win for speaking instead of singing or songwriting, but it might be worth it for the recording academy to finally make it up to her, whatever the category.

Another legendary musician is nominated in this race: Janis Ian, who along with actress Jean Smart narrates the audiobook for Isabel Miller‘s novel “Patience and Sarah.” Ian has only won two Grammys in her career, and one of those victories was in this category: for her autobiography “Society’s Child” in 2012. This is the first nomination for Smart, who could add this prize to her mantel alongside her three Emmys.

Another actress in this race, Amy Poehler, has never won an Emmy, but maybe she’ll have better luck with the recording academy than she had with the television academy. She’s nominated for her memoir “Yes Please.”

Rounding out the category is TV personality Dick Cavett for “Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks” in which he recounts memorable experiences from his long and storied career. He earned one other Grammy nom in this category back in 1985 for narrating Mark Twain‘s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Grammy for Best R&B Album: Can D’Angelo hold off newcomer Leon Bridges?

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Photo credits: Patti Smith by Jonathan Hordle/REX; Jimmy Carter by REX

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