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9 politicians you didn't know had won Grammy awards — and 7 who have been nominated

Michelle Obama at the Grammys in 2019 alongside Alicia Keys and Jennifer Lopez
Michelle Obama (center) at the 2019 Grammy Awards with Alicia Keys (left) and Jennifer Lopez (right).Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
  • The 2024 Grammy Awards will air on Sunday, February 4.

  • Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders are both nominated this year.

  • Presidents, first ladies, and senators have been recognized for their recording achievements.

In addition to winning elections, some politicians have also won Grammy awards.

Presidents, first ladies, and Congress members have been recognized by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for their achievements in recorded sound.

Here are nine politicians you may not have known were Grammy winners — and seven more who have been nominated.

Jimmy Carter has won three Grammys for best spoken-word album.

Former US President Jimmy Carter.
Jimmy Carter.Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The former president has been nominated nine times for best spoken-word album, according to the Grammys' official website. He won for the recordings of his books "Faith — A Journey For All" in 2019, "A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety" in 2016, and "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis" in 2007.

Former Senate Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen won a Grammy for a recording of his poem "Gallant Men."

Sen. Everett M. Dirsen, Republican from Illinois, speaks in front of several microphones.
Everett M. Dirksen.Bettmann/Getty Images

A Republican senator from Illinois, Dirksen took home the Grammy for best spoken word, drama, or documentary recording in 1968, according to the Grammys website. He was also nominated in 1971 for his spoken-word album "Everett Dirksen's America."

Bill Clinton has two spoken-word Grammys, one for a children's book and one for his memoir.

Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton.Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Clinton's narration of the children's book "Peter and the Wolf: Wolf Tracks" earned him his first Grammy in 2004. The following year, he won best spoken-word album for the audiobook of his presidential memoir, "My Life," according to the Grammys.

He received two other Grammy nominations for his recordings of "Giving: How Each Of Us Can Change The World" and "Back To Work: Why We Need Smart Government For A Strong Economy."

Hillary Clinton attended the Grammys in 1997 to accept her award for best spoken-word album.

Hillary Clinton at the Grammys in 1997
Hillary Clinton at the Grammys in 1997.Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

The then-first lady won a Grammy for the recording of her nonfiction book, "It Takes A Village," according to the Grammys. She was nominated again in 2004 for the audiobook of her memoir "Living History."

Al Franken has won two Grammys: one for best comedy album and one for best spoken-word album.

Al Franken speaks in 2011
Al Franken.Paul Morigi/WireImage for NARAS

The former Minnesota senator, who rose to fame as a comedian before entering politics, won best comedy album in 1997 and best spoken-word album in 2004. He has been nominated seven times, according to the Grammys.

Former Vice President Al Gore's audiobook for "An Inconvenient Truth" won best spoken-word album in 2009.

Al Gore and Queen Latifah at the Grammys in 2007
Al Gore and Queen Latifah present at the Grammys in 2007.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The audiobook was read by actors Beau Bridges, Cynthia Nixon, and Blair Underwood, according to its listing on Audible.

Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, who represented the District of Columbia in the Senate, won a Grammy for best spoken-word recording.

U.S. civil rights activist Jesse Jackson speaks to reporters in Havana September 29, 2013.  REUTERS/Desmond Boylan
Jesse Jackson.Thomson Reuters

Jackson advocated for DC statehood in an unpaid Senate position known as a "shadow senator" from 1991 to 1997, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. He was also appointed as a special envoy to Africa by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

In 1989, Jackson won a spoken-word Grammy for a recorded address entitled "Speech by Rev. Jesse Jackson," according to the official Grammys website. He was nominated in the same category in 1985 for "Our Time Has Come."

His musical talents were also recognized at the 22nd Grammy Awards in 1980, when his gospel album "Push For Excellence" was nominated for best contemporary soul gospel performance.

Barack Obama has won two spoken-word Grammy awards.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/File/AP

The recordings of Obama's books "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" won best spoken-word album in 2006 and 2008, respectively, according to the official Grammys website. His presidential memoir audiobook, "A Promised Land," was also nominated in 2022.

Having won a spoken-word Grammy in 2020, Michelle Obama could tie Grammy wins with her husband this year.

Michelle Obama at the Grammys in 2019 alongside Alicia Keys and Jennifer Lopez
Michelle Obama (center) at the 2019 Grammy Awards with Alicia Keys (left) and Jennifer Lopez (right).Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

The former first lady's audiobook for her memoir "Becoming" won best spoken-word album in 2020, according to the official Grammys website. This year, she is nominated again for the recording of her latest book, "The Light We Carry."

In 1965, John F. Kennedy received a posthumous Grammy nomination.

President John F. Kennedy speaks at a press conference August 1, 1963.
President John F. Kennedy speaks at a press conference August 1, 1963.National Archive/Getty Images

Editor Bill Adler's book "The Kennedy Wit," a compilation of the former president's quotes and humorous quips, became a bestseller in 1964, the year after his assassination, according to Goodreads.

On the recorded version, Kennedy was listed as an artist along with narrator David Brinkley and Adlai Stevenson, who provided an introduction. The album was nominated for best documentary, spoken word, or drama recording, according to the award show's official website.

Ultimately, the cast of the BBC show "That Was The Week That Was" won the award for its tribute to Kennedy.

Richard Nixon was nominated for best spoken-word recording in 1979 for his televised interviews with journalist David Frost.

Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon.AP Images

In what became known as "Frost/Nixon" or "the Nixon interviews," the former president sat down with Frost to discuss his presidency and role in the Watergate scandal. The Grammy-nominated interviews were watched by 45 million people, the BBC reported.

Former senator Sam Ervin recorded a Grammy-nominated album, "Senator Sam at Home."

Senator Sam Ervin
Sam Ervin.Marion S. Trikosko/PhotoQuest/Getty Images

The album, a mix of stories, jokes, and pop music covers, was nominated for best spoken-word recording at the 17th Grammy Awards, NPR affiliate WFAE reported.

Former presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson received two Grammy nominations.

Adlai Stevenson speaks at the 1956 Democratic National Convention
Adlai Stevenson.Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

Stevenson served as governor of Illinois and ran twice for president as the Democratic nominee in 1952 and 1956, according to the Stevenson Center at Illinois State University.

He was nominated for his first Grammy in 1965 for his contribution to "The Kennedy Wit." He was nominated again in 1967 for "The Stevenson Wit," a similar album featuring selections from his "speeches, press conferences, and off-the-cuff remarks," according to the album cover.

Harry Truman was nominated for a Grammy in 1978.

President Harry Truman in 1945.
Harry Truman.MPI/Getty

"The Truman Tapes," a series of recorded interviews with Ben Gradus, was nominated for best spoken-word recording at the 20th Grammy Awards, according to the official Grammys website.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's audiobook for her memoir, "A Fighting Chance," was nominated for best spoken-word album at the 2015 Grammys.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren.Robert F. Bukaty/AP Images

Warren lost the award to "Diary of a Mad Diva" by Joan Rivers.

Sen. Bernie Sanders received his second Grammy nomination this year.

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders.AP Photo/Susan Walsh

In 2018, Sanders was nominated for best spoken-word album for "Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In" along with actor Mark Ruffalo, who narrated parts of the audiobook. The pair lost to Carrie Fisher, who won a posthumous award for her memoir "The Princess Diarist," Billboard reported.

This year, Sanders is nominated in the same category for his audiobook, "It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism."

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