Who Are the Nominees for the First-Ever Grammy Songwriter of the Year Award?
Champions of songwriters cheered in 2022 when it was announced that the Grammy Awards would, for the first time, recognize a songwriter of the year. The category, which excludes classical songs, is intended to honor one of the most important, and most invisible, of music makers: the writer who is not a widely recognized performer.
Its criteria specifies that “Songwriters must have written a minimum of five songs in which they are credited ‘solely’ as a songwriter or co-writer.” While all nominees in the category are performers as well, their songs for others are what landed them nods; the Taylor Swifts and Drakes of the world could qualify, but only if they’d written five notable songs for other artists that they didn’t perform on or produce. Those criteria are reflected in the inaugural contenders for the award — only one of whom, The-Dream, has won a Grammy before — yet several are also receiving nods for album of the year, an award shared by songwriters. And the nominees are:
1. Amy Allen
Having written songs for Shawn Mendes, Selena Gomez, Rosé and Camila Cabello over the past few years, Allen is nominated for her work on albums by Lizzo (“If You Love Me”) and Harry Styles (“Matilda”) as well as credits with King Princess, Charli XCX, Sabrina Carpenter and Alexander 23. She was previously nominated for her work on Justin Bieber’s “Justice” and has released several singles and an EP as a Warner Records solo artist.
2. Nija Charles
Just 20 when she made her debut as a songwriter, five years later, Charles has racked up credits with Cardi B, Meek Mill and 21 Savage. But her stellar 2022 is reflected in the songs she’s nominated for, which include “Cozy,” from Beyoncé’s “Renaissance,” and tracks with Summer Walker, City Girls, Lil Durk, Megan Thee Stallion and Kehlani. She released her solo artist debut, “Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You,” last January.
3. Tobias Jesso Jr.
The buzz on Jesso began in 2015 when his debut album, “Goon,” landed him a nom for songwriter of the year at Canada’s Juno Awards. But in the U.S., it seems to have acted more as a calling card for his writing. Jesso had worked on the 2015 track “When We Were Young” by Adele, who carries one of his nods this year, along with songs by Harry Styles (“Boyfriends”), FKA Twigs, Orville Peck, King Princess, Diplo and Omar Apollo.
Terius Youngdell Nash, aka The-Dream, is the veteran of this group, with five Grammy wins and a formidable list of hits for Rihanna (“Umbrella”), Justin Bieber (“Baby”), Britney Spears and Beyoncé (“Single Ladies”) — not to mention eight albums or mixtapes under his own name. He’s returned to a writing focus in recent years and co-wrote half of Beyoncé’s “Renaissance.” That, along with tracks for Brent Faiyaz and Pusha T, resulted in a 2023 nom.
5. Laura Veltz
An old hat when it comes to Grammy nominations, Veltz was up for best country song at the last three ceremonies, for Maren Morris (twice) and Dan + Shay. Her net grows wider this year, with nods for two songs with Morris, a pair for Demi Lovato and one for Ingrid Andress. She, too, has an
extensive discography, releasing seven albums with her family’s band, Cecelia.
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