After a right-wing preacher targeted her online, Flamy Grant watched as their follower numbers skyrocketed, their album Bible Belt Baby soared to the top of the iTunes Christian charts, and their song “Good Day” earned their first entry on a Billboard chart.
But now, the drag artist, whose very name appears to be a wink at the name of longtime genre mainstay Amy Grant, is setting their sights on the Grammys. In a statement sent to Billboard, Grant says that they had submitted their album for consideration in the annual awards ceremony’s best contemporary Christian music album category, only to find out the project had been removed from the category and placed in the best pop vocal album category.
“I know next-to-nothing about the Grammy nomination process, so when we saw you couldn’t vote for it in best contemporary Christian [music] album, I just assumed that was the end of the road. It was a total shock when an Academy member sent me a message several days later to say she was excited to vote for me in best pop vocal album,” Blake says in the statement. “Pop music is included in the contemporary Christian category. The only logical conclusion I can come to is that someone in the Academy decided my album qualifies as pop, but not as Christian.”
Here is the category description of best contemporary Christian music album, drawn from the 66th annual Grammy Awards rulebook: “For albums — vocal only. Screening criteria: This category recognizes excellence in a solo duo, group, or collaborative performance of contemporary Christian music, including pop, rap/hip-hop, Latin and rock…”
In an official statement shared with Billboard, the Recording Academy confirmed that Grant’s album had been moved into the best pop vocal album category based on “explicit language/content” used in one of the album’s songs. “The Academy is an open and inclusive organization that embraces artists from all backgrounds and genres,” the statement reads.
The song in question is Grant’s “Esther, Ruth and Rahab,” in which Grant celebrates the women of the Bible whose stories are often left unsung. “So I guess the lesson there was God would only hear a prayer/ If it came from a person with a c–k,” she sings in one passage of the song.
When it comes to the gospel and contemporary Christian screening committees, the Academy reiterated that group is made up of “artists, genre experts, songwriters, and producers within the Gospel & CCM genres.” The rules and guidelines for the 2023 ceremony states that “if a genre Screening Committee determines that a recording should be moved to another genre, the recording is forwarded and screened by that genre committee.”
While there is no overt rule against explicit lyrics being included in Christian categories, the Academy reiterated that the re-categorization of works with explicit content is “a standard practice for the Gospel & CCM genre committee, given that the Gospel & CCM Field consists of lyrics-based categories that reflect a Christian worldview.”
A total of 83 albums are vying for nominations for best contemporary Christian music album. Best pop vocal album is a more competitive category, with 128 albums entered this year.
In her statement, Grant asserts that she was not made aware of the screening committee’s practice regarding explicit lyrics. “My faith journey has been long and difficult, but I’m still here, still taking up space in Christianity, still advocating for the inclusion of queer kids like me who grow up in these churches that ignore and oppress them,” she said. “I’m very used to gatekeepers in the worlds of church and Christian music — that’s a big part of why I’ve dedicated myself to this work. But I never expected to encounter religious gatekeeping at the Grammys.”