Iranian singer Shervin Hajipour received the Special Merit Award for Best Song For Social Change for his song “Baraye” at the 2023 Grammy Awards.
A new Special Merit Award introduced this year, the award was presented by First Lady Jill Biden, who highlighted the message of the Iranian singer/songwriter. “Baraye” was posted on Hajipour’s Instagram and was seen more than 40 million times in less than two days. “He was arrested but this song continues to resonate around the world for its powerful theme: women, life, freedom,” Biden said.
Hajipour was subsequently released from custody, and his song has become an anthem for a protest movement led by women and young people. When the Recording Academy announced the creation of the Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award, supporters of the movement seized on the opportunity, and more than 110,000 submissions were made for “Baraye.”
“We are humbled to be able to recognize Shervin and ‘Baraye’ as the first recipient of the Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award,” said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, in a release. “Music is one of the most powerful forces on earth and has long been an engine of important social and political advancements. We created this award to shine a spotlight on the music that is making a difference and there couldn’t have been a better song to win this inaugural honor than Shervin’s.”
The Recording Academy received more than 3,200 unique submissions for the first-ever award, and 12 additional nominees were in the category’s first class. To qualify for the Best Song For Social Change Special Merit Award, the song must be released in the past five years and should contain lyrical content that addresses a timely social issue, explores a subject impacting a community of people in need, promotes awareness, raises consciousness, and builds empathy.