Three Filipino-American artists set to make history at Grammys 2022

Olivia Rodrigo, H.E.R. and rapper Saweetie are all nominated in top categories this year

Grammy-nominated artists Saweetie, H.E.R. and Olivia Rodrigo have all spoken proudly about their Filipino heritage. Photo: AP; Alamy
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The Grammys this year will be different in many ways. After a drastically downsized ceremony last year owing to the coronavirus pandemic, one of music's biggest nights is all set to return with several changes, including a new venue.

To be held in Las Vegas for the first time, away from its traditional home of Los Angeles, the 64th Grammy Awards also features a bigger nomination pool of 10 artists — up from eight — in the top categories, including album, song and record of the year.

The Recording Academy, which organises the awards, changed the way nominations and winners are chosen after allegations that the process was open to rigging. Nominees this time were selected by all 11,000 voting members of the Recording Academy, instead of smaller committees whose names were not revealed. Winners are also chosen by the musicians, producers and songwriters who belong to the academy.

And waiting in the wings to create history this year are three Filipino-American artists — Olivia Rodrigo, H.E.R. and Saweetie, who are all nominated in top categories.

Teen sensation Rodrigo

Only aged 18 when nominations were announced in November, Rodrigo is the second-youngest artist in Grammy Awards history to be nominated in all four of the top categories: Best New Artist, Album of the Year for Sour, and Record of the Year and Song of the Year for her global hit Drivers License. Billie Eilish was 17 when she was nominated in those categories for the 2020 Grammys.

Rodrigo, who turned 19 in February, is part Filipina on her father's side of the family.

Speaking of her heritage, she told the Centre for Asian American Media in 2018: "My great-grandfather immigrated [to the US] from the Philippines when he was just a teenager. He’s my grandma’s dad, and my grandpa is also Filipino as well.

"My dad grew up in a house where they were always making Filipino food, his grandpa always spoke Tagalog. All of those traditions have trickled down to our generation. Every Thanksgiving we have lumpia and things like that."

Rodrigo first stepped into the spotlight as an actress when she appeared on the Disney Channel series Bizaardvark and later on Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

Rodrigo's debut single, drivers license, topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart less than two weeks after its release. The song, which was released on January 8 last year, quickly became a smash hit, breaking Spotify's record for single-day streams. The track also become the No 1 song in eight different countries, including the US and the UK.

The accompanying album Sour, which was released on May 21, had the "biggest opening week" for an album, with more than 51,000 copies sold, according to the Official Charts Company. It also had the biggest opening week for a debut album in two years, since Lewis Capaldi's 2019 album.

Rodrigo is also nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album, as well as Best Music Video for Good 4 U.

H.E.R. continues to make waves

H.E.R. performs at the Spotify Best New Artist 2019 Party at The Hammer Museum on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision/AP)

For the past three years, RnB singer H.E.R. has been on a winning streak, gaining critical acclaim for her two compilation albums and singles. H.E.R., which was released in 2017, won two Grammys in 2019 for Best R&B Album, as well as Best R&B Performance for the song Best Part, a duet with singer Daniel Caesar.

At the 2020 Grammys, the artist, 24, was nominated in five categories for her second album, I Used to Know Her, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year for Hard Place. And then, in 2021, H.E.R. won another Grammy, for Song of the Year, with I Can't Breathe, the stirring single inspired by the killing of George Floyd. She also won the Oscar for Best Original Song that year for Fight for You from the film Judas and the Black Messiah.

Born in California to a Filipina mother and African-American father, H.E.R.'s real name is Gabriella Wilson.

After her Oscars feat last year, one of the few Filipina women with the honour, she told Variety she completely understood the impact of win.

"It means that there’s another Filipino girl out there and black girl out there who says, ‘I can do that too'," she said.

H.E.R.'s first full-length album, Back of My Mind, was released in June last year and goes to this year's Grammys with two nominations — Album of the Year and Best R&B Album. Her single, Damage, is also nominated for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song.

Saweetie's the one to watch

Rapper Saweetie is nominated for two awards at the 2022 Grammys. AFP

Even before her debut album is out, Saweetie's already tasted charting success as well two Grammy nominations, for Best New Artist and Best Rap Song for Best Friend, her viral single featuring Doja Cat.

Born Diamonte Quiava Valentin Harper to a Filipino-Chinese mother and African-American father, Saweetie, 28, first made waves with her debut single Icy Girl in 2018. She's since released two extended plays, High Maintenance in 2018 and Icy in 2019, the latter spawning the massive hit single My Type.

Best Friend, the single for which Saweetie is nominated at this year's Grammys, is from her forthcoming album Pretty Bitch Music.

The rapper has often spoken about how proud she was of her mixed heritage.

“Being multicultural, like being black, being Filipino, being Chinese, I think it taught me at a really young age that no group of people are the same. However, we have to respect them, their cultures, their values, their morals, so I’m really grateful," she told The Philippine Star last year.

“It was kind of difficult as a little kid because both of my families were like night and day. But I love my Filipino side. My mum's an immigrant. All of my aunties, my uncles, my Lolo, my Lola, they’re all immigrants. So, I’m very like, honoured and blessed to be raised in a family that has traditional Filipino morals and values.”

At the Met Gala in September last year, Saweetie wore a Christian Cowan dress that paid homage to her heritage. The custom-made crystal-embellished gown featured two trains, one with the Filipino flag and the other with the Black Heritage flag.

Saweetie wore a dress inspired by her Filipino and black heritage at the Met Gala in 2021. Reuters

“I remember my mum telling me that it’s important for me to share my heritage, to share my culture. So any time that it makes sense, I do let people know that I am half-Filipina,” she told Asian Journal.

Scroll through the gallery below for five Filipino artists who made it big on international reality singing shows:

Updated: March 31, 2022, 3:34 AM