Kim Petras is the first transgender woman to win a Grammy for Best Pop Duo Performance
Kim Petras became the first transsexual to win the Grammy for Best Pop Duet or Group Performance, for “Unholy”, a duet with Sam Smith, at the 65th awards ceremony in the USA.
“I am the first transgender woman to win this award,” said Kim Petras onstage at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. “I want to thank all the incredible transgender legends, who opened the doors before me, so that I could be here”, said the German artist, visibly moved.
The song “Unholy”, included in Sam Smith’s fourth studio album “Gloria”, reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in October 2022 and was almost immediately considered an anthem of the LGBTQ + community. It was Kim Petras’ crowning achievement after a decade of trying his luck in the industry.
“I’m thinking of the people who told me I was going to be a niche artist because I’m transgender and my music was only going to be played in gay clubs,” Petras told reporters backstage after receiving the statuette. “People need to judge less and I hope there’s a future where gender identity and all these labels don’t matter so much and people can be who they are.”
The two artists have long been looking for the right formula to make music together, and Sam Smith, who identifies as non-binary, has been one of Kim Petras’ biggest supporters since the beginning of her career.
“This song has been an incredible journey for me,” said Petras, who credits Madonna with part of its success due to the “Material Girl’s” historic fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
“I don’t think I would be here if it weren’t for Madonna,” said Petras onstage, also thanking her mother for believing she was a girl.
Minutes later, it would be Madonna herself presenting the live performance of Kim Petras and Sam Smith, who performed “Unholy” at the ceremony on a stage surrounded by fire.
“Here’s what I’ve learned after four decades in music: if you’re called shocking, scandalous, disturbing, problematic, provocative or dangerous, you’re definitely on the right track,” said Madonna.
“I’m here to thank all the rebels out there blazing a new path and taking the brunt of it,” he continued. “You need to know, all you agitators out there, that your fearlessness is not invisible. You are seen, you are heard, and most of all, you are appreciated.”
Madonna praised what she considered to be the courage of Kim Petras and Sam Smith, who “rose above the noise and silliness” towards something “unholy” (‘unholy’, in English).
Later, in the press room, Petras spoke again of Madonna’s influence.
“Madonna is such a provocative and innovative artist that we both felt very inspired by her in this performance,” he said. The performance sought to criticize the way religion rejects people like Petras and Smith.
“I grew up curious about religion and wanting to be a part of it, but slowly I realized it doesn’t want me,” explained Petras. “The performance was an opinion about not being able to choose one’s religion, not living as people might want us to live,” he said. “As a transsexual, I am not wanted in religion.”
This distinction from the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences marked a night that was also historic for enshrining Beyoncé as the artist who won the most Grammy awards in the history of music, surpassing maestro Georg Solti.
The 65th edition of the Grammy Awards was hosted by comedian Trevor Noah.