While the usual headlines for the Grammy Awards tend to honor the pop and R&B winners from the ceremony, there are a number of lesser-known talent that also take home a golden gramophone on these stages. One of the genres is Reggae, more specifically the award for the year’s Best Reggae Album. So take a journey with us as we reveal the winners of the past 10 years, and all the music you might have been sleeping on.
2023 – Kabaka Pyramid
Kingston-born Kabaka Pyramid is quickly stepping into the spotlight as a must-listen artist, as revealed further by his Grammy win for Best Reggae Album for his newest album “The Kalling.” His acceptance speech at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards gave gratitude to those who worked on the album with him, his family and specific love to Jamaica and the entire Caribbean for supporting him and his music.
The album, produced by Damian Marley, has a unique sound, blending classic mystic reggae music with lyricism and beats that speak to the rap industry, with many fans even saying the album reminds them of the iconic music of the late Peter Tosh.
2022 – Soja
The 2022 Grammys saw Soja take home Best Reggae Album for “Beauty In The Silence.” The roots reggae album was their first after a 4-year dry spell, but the Grammys proved the time was well spent. Before stay-at-home orders were issued in the height of the pandemic, the band was recording the album in various iconic spots, like Miami’s Circle House Studios, and even worked with producers who have had a role in the success of names like A$AP Rocky and Pharrell. Aside from the artistic genius, “Beauty In The Silence” was a much needed positive escape for many during the pandemic’s dark times.
2021 – Toots and the Maytals
Toots and the Maytals’ “Got to Be Tough” won Best Reggae Album today at the 2021 Grammy Awards. The album was the first studio release from the band in over a decade after band leader Toots Hibbert’s head injury. While the music remains soulful with the band’s classic rocksteady and ska reggae sounds, the lyricism digs a bit deeper with political tropes and a call for unity.
2020 – Koffee
In 2020, rising-reggae star Koffee won Best Reggae Album at the Grammy Awards for her 2019 EP “Rapture.” Hailing from the historic Spanish Town in Jamaica, the then 19-yr-old made history as the youngest and the only woman to be awarded a Grammy in that category, giving thanks to the likes of Julian Marley and Sly & Robbie and paying her respects to Jamaica. The album’s gritty sounds mixed with dance music makes it a favorite for hard-core reggae lovers and those just getting into the genre.
2019 – Sting and Shaggy
For the 2019 Grammy Awards, Sting and Shaggy both took home the award for Best Reggae Album for their collaboration on “44/876.” The win marked Sting’s whopping 17th career Grammy award and Shaggy’s second. An unlikely duo, the rock pop sounds of the album from Sting complement Shaggy’s heavy reggae influence.
2018 – Damian Marley
Taking home the 2018 Grammy for Best Reggae Album was Damian Marley with “Stony Hill.” The 2017 release of “Stony Hill” was Marley’s first solo album in a near decade, and the 18-track album has been called “inspiring” with a delicate mix of roots, dancehall, modern reggae, R&B and rap.
2017 – Ziggy Marley
2017 saw another Marley win Best Reggae Album with Ziggy Marley’s 2016 self titled album taking home the gold gramophone. The win marked his 7th Grammy award for Best Reggae Album, officially earning him the title of most wins in that category. The pop-reggae album follows in suit of Marley’s 2014 “Fly Rasta” with uplifting, positive messages of love and some interesting 90s sounds found on the third track “Ceceil” and more recognizable roots sounds on the seventh song, “Butterflies.”
2016 – Morgan Heritage
Morgan Heritage’s “Strictly Roots” album won the Best Reggae Album at the 2016 Grammy Awards ceremony after topping the reggae charts in both 2015 and 2016. Though the artist is known to make more mellow music, “Strictly Roots” contains quite a bit of heavy bass, weaving between roots, dancehall and even dubstep to create a more modern sound.
2015 – Ziggy Marley
The 57th Annual Grammy Awards saw another Ziggy Marley win for his 2014 album “Fly Rasta.” The album was Marley’s fifth studio album and featured a new type of reggae sound with the addition of electric guitars and percussion beside the traditional ska anthem of the album’s calling card track, “Fly Rasta.”
2014 – Ziggy Marley
Ziggy Marley scored another win at the 2015 Grammy Awards with his “Ziggy Marley In Concert” album, which encompasses some of the trademark songs of his career including the opening track “Higher Vibrations,” “Beach in Hawaii” and “True to Myself,” among others.
2013 – Jimmy Cliff
Jimmy Cliff took home his fourth Grammy in 2013 for his album “Rebirth” released the previous year. Released partially in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Jamaican Independence at the time, the album features classic roots rock reggae with catchy sounds and thoughtful lyricism. Aside from the Grammy, “Rebirth” was also included in Rolling Stone’s ’50 Best Albums of 2012′ list.