How Have Soul Train Album of the Year Winners Fared at the Grammys?

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Next year could be a watershed moment for contemporary R&B at the Grammys, particularly in the General Field. With SZA leading all nominees at the 2024 Grammy Awards with nine nods and Victoria Monét (seven) and Coco Jones (five) right on her heels, a new class of R&B powerhouses is looking to make a major splash on Music’s Biggest Night.

At the top of 2023, Beyoncé became the most-awarded act in Grammy history thanks to her triumph in best dance/electronic album for her seismic Renaissance album. That same record — which won three additional Grammys and spawned a pair of Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hits — reigned victorious at the Soul Train Awards, where it secured the “Cuff It” singer her fourth album of the year win at the ceremony.

The Soul Train Music Awards launched in 1987 with a star-studded ceremony co-hosted by Dionne Warwick and Luther Vandross. Intended to celebrate the best in R&B, soul, rap, jazz, and gospel music, the Soul Train Music Awards predate any Grammy categories honoring rap and R&B albums. The Recording Academy introduced best R&B album (along with such other “genre album” awards as best pop album, best rock album and best country album) in 1995, with best rap album arriving the following year.

So, just how often do the winners of the Soul Train Music Award for album of the year sync up with the Grammy winners for best R&B album, best progressive R&B album and best rap album? While Soul Train cannot always be used as a proper precursor there is certainly considerable overlap between the two shows.

Every Soul Train Music Awards ceremony since 1995 — barring 2020 — has found the show’s album of the year winner getting, at the very least, a nod in its respective genre category at the corresponding Grammy ceremony. There have been 15 instances in which the Soul Train album of the year winner won the Grammy for their respective genre category. But there’s a catch.

For the the ceremony’s first nine years (1987-1996), album of the year was split into male, female, and group, with additional categories for rap, jazz and gospel albums. From 1997 to 2003, the awards were consolidated into a single R&B/soul or rap album of the year category. In 2004, Soul Train experimented with dropping genre specifications, presenting an award simply titled “album of the year.” They returned to the male, female, group split from 2005 to 2007, ultimately settling on one album of the year category from 2009 onwards.

Here’s some more Soul Train Music Awards lore: the 2008 ceremony was canceled due to the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. Luckily, the 2023 WGA strike ended in time for this year’s Soul Train Music Awards.

This year’s Soul Train album of the year nominees are SZA (SOS), Victoria Monét (Jaguar II), Coco Jones (What I Didn’t Tell You – Deluxe), Babyface (Girls Night Out – Extended), Burna Boy (I Told Them…), Ari Lennox (age/sex/location), Janelle Monáe (The Age of Pleasure) and Summer Walker (Clear 2: Soft Life – EP).

The 2023 Soul Train Music Awards will air on Sunday, Nov. 26, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on BET and BET Her. SZA, Summer Walker and Usher lead all nominees with nine nods each.

Here’s a brief overview of which albums have triumphed at both the Soul Train Music Awards and the Grammys.

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