Grammy Award-Nominated Veterans

The Grammy Awards honor and celebrate the best of the music industry. In the more than six decades of handing out the golden gramophones, there have been a host of nominees who have served in the U.S. military prior to receiving recognition as a top-tier musician (and in the case of one of the biggest names on this list, immediately following their service). Here are a few military veterans who have also received Grammy recognition over the years. 

The War and Treaty
One of the most exciting new acts nominated at the 2024 Grammy Awards is husband-and-wife duo Michael and Tanya Trotter, who perform as The War and Treaty. Michael served in Iraq beginning in 2004, and when he arrived, he was overwhelmed by feelings of fear and self-doubt. As the story goes, his captain was determined to help him survive. When his captain found out he had music in him, he encouraged Michael to teach himself to play piano on an upright piano they’d confiscated that belonged to Saddam Hussein himself. Michael wrote his first song not long after. When his captain was tragically killed, Michael performed the song at his memorial in Iraq. Fast forward nearly 2 decades later, and alongside his now-wife, the duo have opened for Al Green, released multiple projects, and are up for two Grammys at the 2024 ceremony. 

Tony Bennett
In November 1944, months after turning 18, Anthony Dominick Benedetto of Queens, New York was drafted into World War II. After Germany’s May 1945 surrender, Benedetto was ordered to stay on, and like a scene from a movie, Tony Bennett’s musical journey began. An officer heard him singing in the shower, and was so taken with Tony’s talent that he suggested the young soldier join a military band that was being formed. The rest, you could say, is history. Bennett won his first Grammy Award in 1963, and his last nearly 60 years later in 2022. He amassed a total of 41 nominations and 19 wins, including coveted victories in overall categories for Record of the Year and Album of the Year, and 14 wins in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category. 

Bill Withers
Bill Withers enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was just 17 years old, and served for nearly a decade. He left the service in 1965, and moved to Los Angeles two years later in hopes of starting a music career. Four years later in 1971, he released his debut album Just as I Am. The album’s lead single. “Ain’t No Sunshine,” earned Withers a Grammy for Best R&B Song the following year, along with nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Best New Artist. Though Withers left the music industry after less than 20 years of music making and passed away in 2020, the hits he made have proven to stand the test of time and continue to be a crucial thread in the fabric of pop culture, appearing in films, television, commercials, and even finding new life through sampling in new recordings by other artists. He even earned another Grammy Award two years after he left the industry behind in 1987 thanks to Club Nouveau’s cover of his classic “Lean On Me.”

Elvis Presley
Some called him “The King,” some just called him Elvis. Whatever name he went by, when Elvis Presley received a draft notice in December 1957, in the midst of a career high, it was big news. He was granted a brief deferment to complete his film King Creole, but was formally drafted into the United States Army on March 24, 1958. It was a major media event as he arrived for his swearing in. The event was even dubbed “Black Monday” by the press. He was eventually stationed in West Germany, and served for just under two years before being discharged in March 1958. He received the first of his 14 Grammy nominations the following year in 1959, and earned his first of three Grammys 8 years later in 1968. 

Ice T
From the controversial “Cop Killer” to award-winning TV detective, Ice T’s career has been filled with unique turns throughout the years. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1977 after the birth of his daughter. During the two years he served (which resulted in his honorable discharge as Private First Class [PFC – E3]), he discovered hip hop music as it was being birthed, specifically The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” Though his initial entry into music was as a DJ, he soon parlayed into rap, and metal, and the rest, you could say, is history. He received his first Grammy nomination and only win in 1991 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, and was most recently nominated for Best Metal Performance in 2018. 

Posted on February 1 2024 in Blog

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