Earlier this year Renee Zellweger won her second Oscar: Best Actress for playing troubled singer and actress Judy Garland in the biopic “Judy.” But soon she may win another industry award that’s just as meaningful, if not more: a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Album. As Billboard’s Paul Grein points out, Zellweger would be the first since Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls” to receive a Grammy nomination for the film they won an acting Oscar for.
It’s all the more special given Garland’s own awards history. The legendary entertainer never won a competitive Oscar, though she did receive an honorary Juvenile Award for her work in film the year she appeared in “The Wizard of Oz.” So Zellweger’s victory at the Oscars was also a way for the academy to symbolically give Garland an overdue hug.
But Garland did win a couple of Grammys. She claimed Album of the Year and Best Female Solo Vocal Recording in 1962 for her comeback concert recording “Judy at Carnegie Hall.” That was just seven years before her tragic death in 1969 at age 47. Then in 1998 she was given a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award by the recording academy. How sweet it would be for Zellweger to share the music industry’s biggest prize with one of the music industry’s most beloved figures.
But it’s unusual for a movie soundtrack to compete for Best Traditional Pop Album. They’re usually entered for Best Compilation Soundtrack, which is how other stars of music-driven films have won their gramophones, like Joaquin Phoenix (“Walk the Line”), Don Cheadle (“Miles Ahead”), Hugh Jackman (“The Greatest Showman”) and most recently Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (“A Star is Born“). Best Traditional Pop Album, meanwhile, is usually awarded to industry veterans or artists performing song standards. Frankly, it could just be renamed the Tony Bennett Award since that crooner has taken home the prize 13 times out of the 29 years the category has been presented.
But soundtrack or not, a singer covering the songs of Judy Garland would fit right into Best Traditional Pop Album given the award’s history. Tributes to music legends have won multiple times in recent years. Bennett won in 2016 with Bill Charlap for “The Silver Lining,” a collection of songs by composer Jerome Kern. Country legend Willie Nelson then won twice for tribute albums: “Summertime” (2017), which featured songs by George and Ira Gershwin, and “My Way” (2019), his collection of Frank Sinatra covers.
Will Zellweger follow in those Grammy footsteps wearing Garland’s ruby slippers?
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