George Michael possessed extraordinary talent as a songwriter, vocalist, and producer. His incomparable vision and drive propelled him to superstardom, and he became the most-played artist on British radio from 1984 to 2004 and one of the best-selling artists of all time.
George Michael formed the pop duo Wham! with schoolmate Andrew Ridgeley in 1981. They achieved teen idol status with hits like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and the timeless holiday megahit “Last Christmas.” Michael’s first foray into the solo spotlight with the introspective hits “Careless Whisper” and “A Different Corner” eventually spelled the end of the group in 1986.
After the global pop success of Wham!, in 1987, George Michael scored the hit duet “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me” with Aretha Franklin and released his self-produced solo debut, Faith. With well-crafted hooks, mature lyrics, and funk and Motown influences, Faith was a Number One smash boasting four hit singles, including the title track and “Father Figure.” It was the first album by a white solo artist to lead Billboard's Top Black Albums chart and remains one of the best-selling LPs of all time. Echoes can be heard in the impassioned vocals and personal lyrics of artists from Adele to Lady Gaga to Mary J. Blige.
Wanting his music to speak for itself, George Michael declined to appear on the album cover and in music videos for Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. The album is a masterpiece that alludes to Michael's struggle as a closeted gay man during the height of the AIDS epidemic. However, after coming out in 1998, Michael refused to shy away from honesty again, paving the way for a generation of proud LGBTQIA+ artists, from Sam Smith to Lil Nas X to Troye Sivan.
George Michael died in 2016, leaving a remarkable legacy as a brilliant performer, activist, philanthropist, and champion for artist authenticity.
“A Different Corner” (1986) • Faith (1987) • “Freedom! ‘90,” “Waiting for That Day,” Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990) • “Too Funky” (1992) • “Jesus to a Child,” “You Have Been Loved,” Older (1996) • “Amazing,” “My Mother Had a Brother,” Patience (2004) • “An Easier Affair” (2006) • “This Is How (We Want You to Get High),” Last Christmas (2019)
Nominee: George Michael
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