Meet jazz singer Samara Joy, who won best new artist at 2023 Grammys

By Edward Segarra for USA TODAY

Samara Joy is now a Grammy-certified rising star — but she didn’t see it coming.

Joy, a New York-born jazz singer, clinched the prize for best new artist at the 65th annual Grammy Awards Sunday night. The victory was a surreal moment for the 23-year-old.

“I’ve been watching y’all on TV for so long,” Joy said to the artists in the audience during her acceptance speech. “All of you are so inspiring to me, so to be here just by being myself, by just being who I was born as, I’m so thankful.”

Joy also spoke to the significance of winning the award as a Black artist backstage at the awards ceremony.

Samara Joy’s albums, songs are jazz personified

Samara Joy released her self-titled debut album, which she recorded while still in college, in 2021 and followed it up with her acclaimed sophomore effort Linger Awhile, which features the songs “Guess Who I Saw Today,” “Nostalgia (The Day I Knew)” and “Misty.”

Earlier this week, Joy took the stage at Spotify’s Best New Artist party in West Hollywood, where she performed “Can’t Get Out of This Mood,” the first track from “Linger Awhile.” The singer dug into her throaty jazz leanings during her short set, which included a dusky, organ-flecked rendition of Adele’s “Someone Like You.”

Joy also spoke to USA TODAY at the event about her prospects of winning best new artist.

“It’s anybody’s guess. I honestly don’t know,” Joy said Thursday. “Maybe Anitta, but it could be Muni Long, but it could be Latto. I mean, everybody is so amazing. I’m rooting for everybody.”

Olivia Rodrigo presents Samara Joy with best new artist Grammy

Pop singer Olivia Rodrigo, who took home the best new artist award at the 2022 Grammys, presented Joy with the honor Sunday.

“It means everything,” Joy said. “For me to be able to win this and look at my niece, my little brother, my siblings and my cousins and be like, ‘You can do this. Whatever dream you have, whatever goal, whatever you’re passionate about, go after it no matter what.'”

Joy also told USA TODAY about her love for fellow jazz musician and best new artist alum Esperanza Spalding, who won the award in 2011.

“I haven’t gotten to meet her,” Joy said of Spalding. “But I’ve been a fan of her music for a long time, so I hope we get the chance to collaborate at some point. I really admire her.”

Contributing: Melissa Ruggieri and Ralphie Aversa, USA TODAY