Best Song For Social Change

Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy


The Inaugural Best Song For Social Change Award Captured The World’s Attention. The Recording Academy Now Looks To The Future: "The World Needs To Hear Your Voice"

Iranian singer/songwriter Shervin Hajipour received the inaugural Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award at the 2023 GRAMMYs. Now, Recording Academy leaders give music fans an inside view at the making of the award and look toward its future.

Recording Academy/Mar 1, 2023 - 10:26 pm

An intimate, vocal-forward performance had an earth-rattling impact. Last September, the widely publicized death of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini while in custody of the morality police in Iran sparked outrage and protests across the world. Less than two weeks later, Iranian singer/songwriter Shervin Hajipour poured his raw feelings into "Baraye."

An emotive offering to the Iranian population, and the rights of women everywhere, the song became a global clarion call for protesters on the ground as well as those in solidarity with them. Hajipour posted "Baraye" on his Instagram page. In less than two days, it gained more than 40 million views.

In recognition of this culture-shifting song, the Recording Academy — by way of presenter First Lady Jill Biden — awarded Hajipour with the inaugural Special Merit Award for Best Song For Social Change at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

The Recording Academy's Chief Awards & Industry Officer, Ruby Marchand, and Sr. Director of Awards, Nick DiFruscia, speak for this entire society of music people when they describe how "Baraye" fulfills the mission of the Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award — one of the highest honors a socially conscious song can receive.

"I think it's global and it's universal," DiFruscia says of the song in an interview with "The magic in the ether came together. And then you see how it's impactful. It becomes the anthem or the unofficial anthem of a movement that the globe has now focused on, and then all the behavior around it."

Read More: 2023 GRAMMYs: How The New Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award Inspires Positive Global Impact & Celebrates Message-Driven Music and How To Qualify

"I think that if ever there were an example of how a simple song can change the world, you have it in 'Baraye,'" Marchand adds. "A man sitting behind a keyboard creating this very sweet, evocative melody, but yet the lyrics are piercing for those who understand them. And even for those who don't, they hear the emotion in his voice and completely identify with that."

"Music is one of the most powerful forces on earth and has long been an engine of important social and political advancements. We created this award to shine a spotlight on the music that is making a difference and there couldn't have been a better song to win this inaugural honor than Shervin's," Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. said in a statement announcing Hajipour as the honoree.

To Marchand, no matter which languages you speak or understand, the moving emotion of "Baraye" transmitted loud and clear. "It wasn't about language; it wasn't about a particular image or lyric that we may not all have in common," she says. "It was about the humanity in the performance and in the song.  And that's where a song can truly change the world."

The Special Merit Award is determined by a Blue Ribbon Committee, a group of qualified Recording Academy voting members, and ratified by the Recording Academy Board of Trustees.

"These are members who are very steeped in the craft and art of songwriting, of lyrical development, and of social justice themes and social change possibilities" Marchand notes. "It was a diverse, dedicated, and remarkable group of people who came together and understood the purpose behind this award."

The process, she says, is highly intensive in multiple regards. "We're talking about dozens and dozens of hours spent listening in order to absorb the full breadth and scope of the submissions", Marchand reflects. "It was truly a meeting of the minds."

Some great songs are personal; some are political; some are neither. Some blend the personal and political until they're indistinguishable. How does one compare a great song to an impactful song? To DiFruscia, there's no concrete delineation.

"One never knows what is going to impact the public — either it be emotionally, either it be political, it is a magic sort of ether. A very special mix in the air that comes together," he says.

To DiFruscia, a song worthy of the Best Song For Social Change caliber can run the gamut as per topics at play, as well as the composition's relative complexity. He says it can be "a magnificently crafted composition that's academically superior,” or “a very simple, three-chord song that completely captivates an audience.”

"It relates to how our committee members digested and listened and judged these songs that were submitted based on their own understanding and their own direction of the spirit of the award," DiFruscia notes. "I think a lot of that magic sort of has to process and then gets conveyed through conversation in the meetings."

With the first-ever Special Merit Award for Best Song For Social Change in the bag, both Marchand and DiFruscia are feeling very positive and centered toward the development and future of the award. "We want to continue to protect its integrity and also to ensure that the award is known to songwriters who are deserving of consideration because they're engaged in social impact."

"For however long as I'm involved, I just would like to watch it unfold without any expectation," DiFruscia says of the award." I think there's going to only be more magic that happens around this award in the subsequent years."

For the creators who are ready to take a massive swing and write or sing about our beautiful, terrifying, complex world in the young 2020s, Marchand encapsulates the essence of this monumental Special Merit Award in seven words: "The world needs to hear your voice."

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Ruby Marchand and WAYNA at  Power In Women: Blueprints in Leadership
Ruby Marchand and WAYNA

Photo: Getty Images for the Recording Academy


Highlighting The Power In Women: Inside A Conversation With WAYNA & The Recording Academy's Ruby Marchand

In celebration of Women's History Month, the Recording Academy's D.C. Chapter hosted "Power In Women: Blueprints In Leadership," during which Marchand and others and discussed the role of women in music and overcoming common challenges.

Recording Academy/May 1, 2024 - 06:04 pm

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Recording Academy's Washington D.C. Chapter hosted "Power In Women: Blueprints in Leadership," featuring a conversation between Chief Awards & Industry Officer Ruby Marchand and GRAMMY-nominated singer WAYNA. The event focused on the role of women in music and promoting diversity within the industry.

On March 15, the tight-knit D.C. music community gathered to attend the intimate discussion powered by impactful dialogue and insightful moments where the two women discussed the power of women in music and Ruby’s professional and Recording Academy journey.

Sharon Ingram, Executive Director of The D.C. Chapter of The Recording Academy, opened the Blueprints in Leadership conversation by addressing the astonishing women working at the Recording Academy. "The Academy’s goal has been achieved with intention, and I feel so grateful to work for a company that has no problem elevating women, and to have a board that firmly believes in the power of diversity."

Ingram also addressed the Recording Academy's efforts to reach gender parity by adding 2,500 women voting members by 2025, a goal that is just two percent away from being met.

Speaking to the next generation of women in music, Marchand gave the audience advice on how she overcame the ideas of imposter-syndrome that so many women face in the music business.

"I bring out that fearless quality, which we all have. It’s like a muscle, you have to use it," she said. "We all know what it is to feel fearless, but we often don’t reach for it. But the more we reach for feeling fearless, the more we empower ourselves to take risks."  

Marchand finds herself uniquely positioned to continually elevate women who need support in the industry.  "That’s how I fight back. I do it through looking at the next generation," Marchand emphasized. "None of us is an army in one."

Now, more than ever, the Recording Academy is focused on uplifting future generations of women in music. It's crucial to elevate the power within. 

Washington D.C. Chapter Dinner & Conversation Answers "Can We Have Rhythm Without the Blues?"

Recording Academy 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo courtesy of the Recording Academy


The Recording Academy Congratulates All Of The Winners & Nominees At The 2023 GRAMMYs: "Keep Shaking Up The World With Your Music"

As the 2023 GRAMMYs season comes to a close, Recording Academy executives sign off on a historic GRAMMY season with messages of gratitude to all of the winners and nominees at this year's GRAMMY Awards.

Recording Academy/Mar 1, 2023 - 10:55 pm

Every GRAMMY ceremony is a history-making event. But the 2023 GRAMMYs did so for very specific reasons — ones that had an indelible impact on the music industry and cultural landscape worldwide.

Among the most talked-about milestones for the GRAMMYs' big return to Los Angeles as an in-person ceremony: Beyoncé became the person with the most GRAMMYs of all time. Kim Petras scored a big win for the transgender community with her GRAMMY win for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance alongside Sam Smith; she's the first transgender woman to win in that category. Dr. Dre was the inaugural recipient of his namesake Dr. Dre Global Impact Award.

Equally significant were the five new GRAMMY Awards categories debuted and awarded at the 2023 GRAMMYs, making those five recipients the first to receive their respective honors. These inaugural winners, who were awarded at the Premiere Ceremony, included: Tobias Jesso Jr. (Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical); Stephanie Economou (Best Score Soundtrack For Video Games And Other Interactive Media for "Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Dawn Of Ragnarok"); Wet Leg (Best Alternative Music Performance for "Chaise Longue"); Bonnie Raitt (Best Americana Performance for "Made Up Mind"); and J. Ivy (Best Spoken Word Poetry Album for The Poet Who Sat By The Door). On top of that, 57% of this year’s Grammy winners were Black artists or from other underrepresented communities, and 48% were women.

For Recording Academy executives, the 2023 GRAMMYs marked a banner year for Music's Biggest Night — and the music community writ large.

"I'm most proud of the range and diversity of our 91 awards, which continue to evolve and to inspire," Ruby Marchand, Chief Awards & Industry Officer for the Recording Academy, says. "Music as a powerful force for change within our culture and our lives was what struck me as the show unfolded."

Kelley Purcell, the Recording Academy's Vice President of Membership & Industry Relations, echoes the sentiment: "It was inspiring to see a diverse array of artists grace the GRAMMY stage, showing off the beautiful depth and breadth of our industry."

As one of the organization's leaders bridging the inner workings of GRAMMY voting with the wider music industry, Purcell is also inspired by the Recording Academy's esteemed voting membership, who make their voices heard when voting for the nominees and ultimate winners each year during GRAMMY season.

"From submitting eligible recordings to voting and tuning in to watch the GRAMMYs, Recording Academy members know that the GRAMMY process is strongest when every member is involved," she says. "It is always inspiring to witness Recording Academy members take their participation in the GRAMMY process seriously."

"I was inspired to see our members dedicate themselves to every step of the Awards process and celebrate musical excellence as peers," Marchand adds.

As the 2023 GRAMMYs season comes to a close, the Recording Academy is extending a mighty, heartfelt congratulations to all of this year's GRAMMY winners and nominees. Your well-earned achievements, along with the full-fledged commitment of the Academy's wider membership, brought this year's GRAMMY ceremony to life. The Recording Academy will continue to celebrate all GRAMMY winners and nominees this year and beyond.

"To my wonderful colleagues: Your dedication, professionalism, and heart for our GRAMMY Awards and our amazing musical community is at the heart of what makes our Academy such a special home," Marchand reflects.

"Keep shaking up the world with your music," Purcell adds. "The world needs it."

2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Winners & Nominees List

Graphic of the 2023 GRAMMYs First Round GRAMMY Voting Guide
65th GRAMMY Awards

Graphic: The Recording Academy


2023 GRAMMYs: Everything You Need To Know About Final Round Voting

Now that the nominees for the 2023 GRAMMY Awards have been announced, it’s time for Recording Academy voting members to submit their Final Round votes. Here’s everything you need to know before voting opens Dec. 14.

Recording Academy/Dec 12, 2022 - 10:15 pm

GRAMMY Voting season, and the journey to Music’s Biggest Night, continues! 

Now that First Round voting, which took place in October, has determined the nominees at the 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, Recording Academy voting members are now set to decide who will take home a golden gramophone on GRAMMY night next year via Final Round voting. 

As Academy voting members prepare to cast their votes, we’ve assembled a helpful guide with all the must-know information about the Final Round GRAMMY Voting process behind music’s only peer-recognized honor. 


  • Final Round Voting: Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022 — Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023  

  • 2023 GRAMMYs (65th GRAMMY Awards) Telecast: Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023  


Last month, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. joined creators across genres and crafts, including Olivia Rodrigo, Machine Gun Kelly, John Legend, Smokey Robinson, and more, to reveal the full list of nominations for the 2023 GRAMMYs.  

The full list of nominations covering all 91 categories, as well as additional information on past GRAMMY nominees and winners, can be accessed at 

See a full list of updates and adjustments to the 65th GRAMMY Awards nominations list. 


The annual GRAMMY voting process is divided into two phases. First Round Voting determines all the GRAMMY nominees for each GRAMMY Awards year. Once the nominees are determined, Recording Academy voting members return to the ballots to vote during Final Round Voting, which ultimately determines the GRAMMY winners across all categories to be revealed on GRAMMY night. 

To ensure all artists, musicians and creators are fairly evaluated based on their artistic and technical merits, it is vital for all Recording Academy voting members to participate in both First Round Voting and Final Round Voting. This will help the wider music community determine the leading music of the year, as voted on by their peers.


The GRAMMY is music’s most prestigious honor and the only peer-recognized award in music. It represents the full recognition and respect that comes from within the global family of music people. Every vote affirms this prestige and continually refreshes the meaning of excellence in music and the recording arts and sciences.   

As active, working musicians and creators across all genres and crafts, Recording Academy voting members are responsible for representing the international music community and celebrating the creative accomplishments of their peers. 


To evolve alongside the ever-changing musical landscape, the Recording Academy accepts proposals for GRAMMY category changes or amendments from its robust, diverse membership body every year.  

As a direct result of this annual membership-driven initiative, the 65th GRAMMY Awards will honor creators across 91 total categories, including the below five newly announced categories, which will debut at the 2023 GRAMMYs next February:   

Remember: Like in First Round Voting, Recording Academy voting members can vote in up to 10 categories across up to three fields on their member ballot, in addition to all four categories in the General Field (Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist). To help ensure the quality of GRAMMY voting, members are directed to vote only in their areas of expertise. 


The personalization, search and flexibility enhancements added to GRAMMY voting ballots will continue to be implemented this year. As introduced during First Round voting, the recently launched category selection tool, which minimizes scrolling time and creates an easy-to-use, custom ballot for each voter, will return for Final Round voting.  


As they cast their votes, voting members will have the ability to stream nominated recordings on select streaming services. 

Respecting fellow creators means respecting and considering their work, so we encourage all voting members to take additional time and give another thoughtful listen to all nominated recordings in the categories in which they are voting. 


Recording Academy voting members can access their Final Round GRAMMY Voting ballot via their member dashboard beginning Wednesday, Dec. 14.   

Before voting opens, please make sure you have the correct email and password. If your credentials are invalid, reset your password. For further assistance, contact the Membership Department at 

For general voting support, contact 833-789-VOTE (8683) or 


It is imperative that our voting members participate in the GRAMMY Awards process in a fair and ethical manner and only make choices based on artistic and technical merits of the recordings. Before voting, make sure to read the Voting and Solicitation Guidelines and Voter Code of Conduct. 


Learn more about the year-round GRAMMY Awards voting process and read our FAQ. 

Your Vote, Your Voice: 6 Reasons Why Your GRAMMY Vote Matters

*The 2023 GRAMMYs, officially known as the 65th GRAMMY Awards, returns to Los Angeles' Arena on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, and will broadcast live on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on-demand on [Paramount+]( at 8-11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.*

The eligibility period for the 65th GRAMMY Awards is Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 – Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. All eligible awards entries must be released within this timeframe.

The Recording Academy and do not endorse any particular artist, submission or nominee over another. The results of the GRAMMY Awards, including winners and nominees, are solely dependent on the Recording Academy’s Voting Membership.