The category for Best Spoken Word Album at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards was a competitive one, and First Lady Michelle Obama's book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America lost to singer-songwriter Janis Ian's book Society's Child: My Autobiography. The win was announced Sunday afternoon at a pre-ceremony ahead of the awards telecast from Los Angeles, CA.
Ian also trumped former President Bill Clinton, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. When learning of her win, a thrilled Ian attempted to turn it into a punchline for a joke, reported the Los Angeles Times in a liveblog of the pre-show.
"To say this is a stunning upset would be an understatement,” Ian said. "An ex-president, a first lady and three lesbians walk into a bar..."
Update, 7:46 PM: The First Lady tweeted her congratulations to Ian.
"Congrats to @therealjanisian! Such an honor even to be nominated for the #Grammys -- looking forward to watching tonight! -mo," Mrs. Obama wrote on @FLOTUS.
President Obama previously won one Grammy each in the Best Spoken Word category for his books Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope.
American Grown was published last May, and is Mrs. Obama's debut as an author. Part White House memoir and part national call to action for the Let's Move! campaign, it includes recipes from the White House chefs and gardening tips, and spotlights food access projects around the nation. Saturday was the third anniversary of Mrs. Obama's childhood obesity campaign.
When first nominated for the Grammy last December, the First Lady shared the honor with all those who worked on her Kitchen Garden and on the book.
"This nomination is such an honor not just for me, but for everybody who contributed to the garden and the audio book, from the National Park Service employees to our White House chefs to our beekeeper," Mrs. Obama said.
Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass, Executive Chef Cris Comerford, Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, beekeeper Charlie Brandts, and Supervisory Horticulturalist Jim Adams have all devoted themselves to Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden, and wrote sections of American Grown. The 1,500-square-foot garden is maintained by National Park Service staff, and procedes from the book go to the National Park Service Foundation.
President Clinton's nominated book was Back To Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy. DeGeneres was tapped for Seriously...I'm Kidding, while Maddow got the nod for Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power.
The ceremony will be broadcast on CBS this evening.
Congrats to @therealjanisian! Such an honor even to be nominated for the #Grammys -- looking forward to watching tonight! -moUPDATE 2: Ian responded to the First Lady's tweet about four hours later, retweeting it and then writing:
— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) February 11, 2013
Michelle Obama just tweeted me congratulations. OMG.
— Janis Ian (@therealjanisian) February 11, 2013
*Book jacket photo courtesy of Crown publishing, Inc., a division of Random House.