Heading into the 2019 Grammys tonight, the nominees in the Best New Artist category cover a range of genres, from rock to R&B to country. And, as always, some of them aren’t exactly “new.”
There are a whopping eight acts in the category this year and among them, two Albanian divas: Dua Lipa and Bebe Rexha, and below you can read some essential things about each one.
How to watch the Grammys from the UK
The coverage in the US starts at 8pm ET and 5pm PT on Sunday night, which means it all kicks off for us in the UK at 1am on Monday morning. There aren’t any live broadcasts you can watch in the UK but 4Music will be showing the highlights on Monday February 11 from 7.30pm – 9pm.
• That is her real name. “Dua” means love in Albanian.
• Her parents are from Kosovo and she was born in London in 1995. Music runs in the family: Dad Dukagjin Lipa, a marketing manager, was the frontman of a Kosovar rock band called Oda. “I did a show in Kosovo two summers ago and me and my band decided to surprise my dad and sing it,” Lipa told Rolling Stone in 2018. “It was so surreal, because everyone in the audience was singing along.”
• She got her start at 14 on YouTube, posting videos of herself singing covers by her favorite artists, such as Pink and Christina Aguilera (though she is also a student of hip-hop), before scoring a record deal with Warner Music Group in 2015.
• Pre-full-time music jobs included modeling for ASOS and working as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant in London’s trendy Soho district.
• Her self-titled debut album was released in June 2017, which theoretically made her eligible for Best New Artist last year… but better late than never for the “New Rules” singer, who has opened for Bruno Mars, been the musical guest on Saturday Night Live and can count Taylor Swift as a fan. She is also nominated for Best Dance Recording, for “Electricity.”
• Responding to last year’s Grammys controversy, when Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said that women needed to “step up” if they wanted to be more visible, Lipa told Rolling Stone, “Women are stepping up. We just need to be given a chance. These men in power should be supporting everything that’s happening, supporting equality, rather than saying,’You’re just not working hard enough.'”
• Some of her cultural faves these days: Cardi B, Camila Cabello and Rami Malek’s performance in Bohemian Rhapsody.
• Her real first name is Bleta and, like Dua Lipa, her heritage is Albanian. Dad Flamur Rexha emigrated to New York, where he met her mom, Bukurije, who was born in the U.S. to Albanian parents. Bebe hails from Brooklyn and Staten Island.
• She also isn’t exactly new, having released her first single, “I Can’t Stop Drinking About You,” in 2014. But, her debut LP, Expectations, was a 2018 release—and among the genre-blending tracks all over the album, the song “Meant to Be” with Florida Georgia Line is also nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. “I put so much blood, sweat and tears into [Expectations],” Rexha told Billboard. “I was always scared to release an album because I wanted it to be so great and I’m such a perfectionist. It was the first piece of work I put out that I was super proud of.
• She wrote most of Expectations in the bathtub, musing on the toll a full-time music career takes on relationships. “For me, it’s one or the other,” she told Rolling Stone. “It’s either my music or love. Right now, it’s all about my music.” Moreover, “I have very few but very strong friendships. FaceTiming is a godsend and really important. It’s tough but it comes with the territory.”
• Among the many songs she’s had a hand in leading up to her own album release, she co-wrote the 2013 Eminem and Rihanna collaboration “Monster” and sang in Pete Wentz’s side band Black Cards. Her first EP, I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, came out in 2015.
• She made her Grammys debut in 2018 as part of the rather glorious performance of Kesha’s “Praying” also featuring Janelle Monae, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels, Cyndi Lauper and Audra Day. Rexha said it was easily one of the most defining moments of the year for her. “It was about the female movement and supporting each other, and the message for all the women in the music business as well as up and coming artists… It was very touching.”