Alessia Cara Talks About Best New Artist Win

Alessia Cara made Canada proud on Sunday night when she stepped onto the stage inside Madison Square Garden in New York City to accept the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

"I've been pretend-winning Grammys since I was a kid, like in my shower, so you'd think I'd have the speech thing down but I absolutely don't," the 21-year-old Brampton, Ont. native said.

Backstage in the press room, Cara said the award doesn’t actually mean she’s the “best” new artist – and she deflected a reporter’s question about whether she considered herself a “new” artist.

“I don’t even know what to say,” replied Cara, whose debut album Know-It-All came out in 2015.

On Twitter, Cara told her fans that winning Best New Artist “is so weird and I’ll never quite process it.”

Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Indeed, just being nominated for Best New Artist was a win for Cara. While previous winners include chart-toppers like Mariah Carey, Sam Smith, and Adele, the list of losers over the years includes Ed Sheehan and Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift.

MORE: Full Grammys coverage

It was the first Grammy win for Cara, who also became the first Canadian to be named Best New Artist. (Alberta-raised Robert Goulet, who won in 1963, was born in the U.S.)

She also had noms for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (for “Stay,” her collaboration with Zedd) and Song of the Year and Best Music Video (for her Logic and Khalid track “1-800-273-8255”).

Cara is one of only 11 Canadian acts nominated for Best New Artist since the category was introduced in 1959. 

Anne Murray lost to The Carpenters in 1971; Corey Hart lost to Cyndi Lauper in 1985; Glass Tiger lost to Bruce Hornsby and the Range in 1987; both Alanis Morrissette and Shania Twain lost to Hootie & the Blowfish in 1996; Nelly Furtado lost to Alicia Keys in 2002; Avril Lavigne lost to Norah Jones in 2003; and Feist lost to Amy Winehouse in 2008.

The most surprising Best New Artist choice was in 2011, when both Drake and Justin Bieber lost to Esperanza Spalding.

Under the previous rules for Best New Artist, Cara wouldn’t have been eligible for a nomination in the category.

Prior to 2017, an act could not have released a full album or previously won a Grammy in order to qualify as Best New Artist. Now, an artist must have released a minimum of five singles or one album – but no more than 30 singles or three albums – and must have “achieved a breakthrough into the public consciousness and impacted the musical landscape during the eligibility period.”

Although it’s been 26 months since Know-It-All was released, there’s no question Cara impacted the musical landscape in the last year. “Stay” was a massive hit and “1-800-273-8255” earned accolades for its important anti-suicide message.

Backstage at the Grammys, Cara – who named Canadians Alanis Morissette and Nelly Furtado as influences – told reporters her win should inspire others.

“When I was coming out of Brampton I just didn’t think I would ever make it here,” Cara said. “I hope that people can see that no matter where you’re from, it’s totally possible.”