The Grammy Award for Best New Artist has been awarded since 1959. Years reflect the year in which the Grammy Awards were handed out, for records released in the previous year. The award was not presented in 1967. The official guidelines are as follows: "For a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist." Note that this is not necessarily the first album released by an artist.
It is sometimes asserted, with varying degrees of sincerity, that winning the award is a curse, as several award winners (particularly from the late 1970s and early 1980s) were never able to duplicate the success they experienced in their debut year. This viewpoint was expressed by former Starland Vocal Band member Taffy Danoff in a 2002 interview for VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders: "We got two of the five Grammys – one was Best New Artist. So that was basically the kiss of death and I feel sorry for everyone who's gotten it since."
The category is also notable for being the only one of its kind in which a Grammy Award was vacated. This occurred in 1990 after it was revealed winners Milli Vanilli did not contribute their own vocals on their debut album. The award was revoked, but was not handed out to another artist.
Of the 54 awards presented in the category since its inception, the honor has been presented to 26 solo female artists, 18 duos or groups, and 11 solo male artists. Between 1997 and 2003, all the winners were solo female artists. Also, from 1993 to 2005, no winner was a solo male artist. In 2006, John Legend broke this trend, which started with Marc Cohn in 1992. Only four artists have won both Best New Artist and Album of the Year in the same year: Bob Newhart in 1961, Christopher Cross in 1981, Lauryn Hill in 1999, and Norah Jones in 2003.
Of all the winners, only one (Esperanza Spalding) has been a jazz artist and only three have been country artists. In 1997, LeAnn Rimes became the first country artist to win the award. She was followed by Carrie Underwood in 2007 and Zac Brown Band in 2010. Additionally, 2017 marked the first time that two country artists were nominated in this category in the same year, in which Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini were both nominated.
1984 marked the first time that all of the nominees were from outside the United States (Winner Culture Club, Eurythmics, and Musical Youth were from England, Big Country was from Scotland, and Men Without Hats were from Canada).