Artist: Maroon 5
Year Won: 2005
First Hit: “Harder to Breathe”
Who They Beat: Gretchen Wilson, Joss Stone, Kanye West, Los Lonely Boys
Where They Are Now: Love ‘em or leave ‘em, Maroon 5 has been here to stay since their Best New Artist Grammy win. (Original drummer Ryan Dusick opted to leave ‘em in 2006 after touring had taken its toll on him.) Following the massive success of Songs About Jane, Maroon 5 released the multiplatinum It Won’t Be Soon Before Long in 2007, which featured singles “Makes Me Wonder,” “Wake Up Call,” “Won’t Go Home Without You,” and 2010’s Hands All Over which generated the earworm-of-the-year “Moves Like Jagger.” Front man Adam Levine joins fellow Best New Artist winner Christina Aguilera as a coach on The Voice. (The two also collaborated on the aforementioned “Jagger.”)
Artist: John Legend
Year Won: 2006
First Hit: “Ordinary People”
Who They Beat: Ciara, Fall Out Boy, Keane, Sugarland
Where They Are Now: The soulful singer-songwriter has won eight other Grammys in addition to his Best New Artist win. Post-Once Again, Legend released 2008’s certified-Gold Evolver and the 2010 collaborative effort with the Roots called Wake Up! Active in the political scene (he was a friend to the Obama campaign and appeared in the viral “Yes We Can” music video), Legend has made an impact on the music world and the world around him.
Artist: Carrie Underwood
Year Won: 2007
First Hit: “Inside Your Heaven”
Who They Beat: Chris Brown, Corrine Bailey Rae, Imogen Heap, James Blunt
Where They Are Now: Underwood was already an established star by the time she won Best New Artist, thanks to her win on American Idol. The crossover star continues to be one of the biggest musical acts in the country, with chart-topping albums (Carnival Ride, Play On), a flurry of other music awards to put on her mantle next to her Grammys (she has five total), and sold-out tours. Just in case that wasn’t enough, the overachiever married hockey player Mike Fisher and has even tried her hand at acting (How I Met Your Mother, Soul Surfer).
Artist: Amy Winehouse
Year Won: 2008
First Hit: “Rehab”
Who They Beat: Feist, Ledisi, Paramore, Taylor Swift
Where They Are Now: One of the most promising and talented acts of our time, Winehouse’s life was tragically cut short when she passed away at the age of 27 in 2011. The singer, who had long struggled with substance abuse problems, died from accidental alcohol poisoning. But as troubling as the British songstress’ life had become after her Best New Artist Grammy win (Winehouse was arrested in 2008 on suspicion of drugs possession; served stints in rehab; performed infamously disastrous shows), her voice still resonated with fans. Winehouse was featured on Tony Bennett’s Duets II and Lioness: Hidden Treasures, which featured 12 previously unreleased tracks, allowed music to have one of its greatest voices sing again. Winehouse won five Grammys in her career.
Year Won: 2009
First Hit: “Chasing Pavements”
Who They Beat: Duffy, Jazmine Sullivan, Jonas Brothers, Lady Antebellum
Where They Are Now: At the age of 20, Adele won the Best New Artist Grammy for her breakthrough album 19. And then we never heard from her ever again.
Artist: Zac Brown Band
Year Won: 2010
First Hit: “Chicken Fried”
Who They Beat: Keri Hilson, MGMT, Silversun Pickups, the Ting Tings
Where They Are Now: Since their win, the Georgia-based country outfit released their second major-label album, the certified platinum You Get What You Give and their live collaboration album Pass the Jar, which featured guests such as Kid Rock and Little Big Town. Over the past two years, the group has toured with the likes of Kenny Chesney, Dave Matthews Band, Kings of Leon, and Blackberry Smoke and racked up even more awards, including Vocal Event of the Year at the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards for their song with Alan Jackson, “As She’s Walking Away.”
Artist: Esperanza Spalding
Year Won: 2011
First Hit: “Little Fly”
Who They Beat: Drake, Florence + the Machine, Justin Bieber, Mumford & Sons
Where They Are Now: The relatively unknown jazz artist became one of the night’s biggest upsets (and by upset we mean, Justin Bieber fans were not happy about it) when she was dubbed the Best New Artist. Spalding spent 2011 touring Europe and North America and continues to work on her upcoming album Radio Music Society.