38 Celebrities With Chronic and Mental Illnesses Nominated for Grammy Awards
On Wednesday, the Recording Academy made its much-anticipated announcement of the 62nd class of Grammy Awards nominees, set to be awarded Jan. 26, 2020. The annual music awards honor outstanding music across genres and disciplines in 84 categories, from song of the year through best world music album, classical composers and your favorite artists, tracks and albums in pop, country, rap, rock and more.
This year, the Grammy nominees, lead by Lizzo with eight nominations, include nearly 40 artists who have been open about living with a mental health issue, chronic illness or disability. When celebrities use their platform to share their health journey, they help destigmatize living with a complicated condition or disability and make it easier for others to speak up and reach out for help.
To celebrate the artists who make a difference for those living with health conditions, here are 38 Grammy nominees open about their health:
1. Bon Iver
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Bon Iver is an indie folk band fronted by musician Justin Vernon. Nominated for several Grammys this year, including Album of the Year for “i,i,” Vernon shared the album was inspired in part by his anxiety.
“I’ve never had [anxiety] before, [I] never quite understood what it could do to people. It really got me. I was stunned by it,” Vernon said on an episode of Annie Mac’s Radio 1 show. “That’s sort of the story [of the record] for me… [It’s about] getting through some tough times and getting to a point where you can feel vulnerable and grateful.”
Bon Iver is nominated for record of the year, album of the year and best alternative music album.
2. Billie Eilish
On the strength of her hit song “Bad Guy,” Billie Eilish broke onto the music scene swinging, all the while speaking candidly about living with Tourette’s syndrome, mental and her self-harm history.
“I’m finally not miserable,” Eilish told Elle. “Two years ago, I felt like nothing mattered; every single thing was pointless. Not just in my life, but everything in the whole world. I was fully clinically depressed. It’s insane to look back and not be anymore.”
Eilish is nominated for record of the year, album of the year, song of the year, best new artist, best pop solo performance and best pop vocal album.
3. Ariana Grande
“Thank U, Next” singer Ariana Grande has shared in interviews and on social media about living with mental health issues like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“[Anxiety is] just in your head and that’s just so crazy how powerful it is — no matter how good things are, it can totally change everything,” Grande previously told the BBC. “It takes hard work and practice and therapy and self-care and so much love.”
lmaoaoo this is funny as fuck but in all honesty therapy has saved my life so many times. if you’re afraid to ask for help, don’t be. u don’t have to be in constant pain & u can process trauma. i’ve got a lot of work to do but it’s a start to even be aware that it’s possible. ???? https://t.co/XiytR3xE0O
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) November 5, 2018
Grande is nominated for record of the year, album of the year, best pop solo performance, best pop duo/group performance and best pop vocal album.
Khalid, the artist behind the now-Grammy-nominated hit “Talk,” shared on social media that he struggles with his mental health and anxiety.
“For the past few days I’ve been feeling very down about a lot of shit, and i just wanna let u know that if you struggle with any illness, I feel you,” Khalid tweeted in 2017. “It gets better.”
I’m not feeling the best rn and my anxiety is super bad, love u guys
— Khalid (@thegreatkhalid) December 16, 2017
Khalid is nominated for record of the year.
The top nominee for this year’s Grammys, “Truth Hurts” singer Lizzo said she struggles with anxiety and body image issues due to a lack of larger-sized bodies in the media.
“When I get really, really anxious before a show, I just go harder and harder and harder when I’m performing and I just go crazy,” Lizzo told British Vogue, adding:
I don’t know why, but my anxiety sometimes fuels who I am as a performer and who I am as an artist. I don’t know if my body just, like, out of a desperate need to find a place for my anxiety or find a use for it, takes it and puts it there.
Lizzo is nominated for record of the year, album of the year, song of the year, best new artist, best pop solo performance, best R&B performance, best traditional R&B performance and best urban contemporary album.
6. Lana Del Rey
The queen of “Summertime Sadness” Lana Del Rey shared in 2014 she was struggling with a chronic condition that doctors couldn’t diagnose, which also took a toll on her mental health.
“I’d been sick on tour for about two years with this medical anomaly that doctors couldn’t figure out,” Del Rey told the Fader. “That’s a big part of my life: I just feel really sick a lot of the time and can’t figure out why. … It was just heavy.”
Del Rey is nominated for album of the year and song of the year.
7. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga, who earned her Grammys nods this year for “A Star Is Born,” lives with fibromyalgia and mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after surviving sexual assault.
“I get so irritated with people who don’t believe fibromyalgia is real,” Gaga told Vogue in 2018. She added:
For me, and I think for many others, it’s really a cyclone of anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma, and panic disorder, all of which sends the nervous system into overdrive, and then you have nerve pain as a result. People need to be more compassionate. Chronic pain is no joke. And it’s every day waking up not knowing how you’re going to feel.
Gaga is nominated for song of the year, best compilation soundtrack for visual media and best song written for visual media.
8. Jack Antonoff
A prolific producer, singer and songwriter, Jack Antonoff shared in previous interviews he struggled with his mental health, especially when he was younger.
“Mental illness — we just started having that conversation,” Antonoff told Time. “I see kids now and I’m almost envious of them because there is this conversation. You wake up one day and you don’t want to get out of bed? Maybe you’re not a loser. Maybe you’re not lazy. Maybe you’re depressed. A lot of those things I forgave myself for later in life.”
Antonoff is nominated for album of the year, song of the year and producer of the year, non-classical.
9. Lewis Capaldi
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A breakout star this year thanks to his hit song “Someone You Loved,” Lewis Capaldi uses his platform to raise awareness for others living with mental health conditions. His newest song, “Before You Go,” is a response to his aunt’s death by suicide and the complicated feelings of being a suicide loss survivor.
“‘The song’s kind of, it comes from a place of … it’s about suicide and it’s about not necessarily the act of it itself obviously, but people after it happens, the aftermath of it and people blaming themselves or starting to think, what could I have done to help that person?” Capaldi explained during a recent interview with Zane Lowe.
Capaldi is nominated for song of the year.
10. Nick Jonas (Jonas Brothers)
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“It’s tough, because it is such an unpredictable disease from day to day,” Jonas told MedLinePlus magazine. “Even when you think you have a really solid grip on how to manage it, there are times that your body just does what it wants. So be patient and don’t get frustrated.”
The Jonas Brothers are nominated for best pop duo/group performance.
11. Shawn Mendes
Though his song about anxiety, “In My Blood,” got mixed reviews from people who live with anxiety. Shawn Mendes continues to speak about his own struggles and support others living with mental health conditions.
“Talking about the problem, putting it out there, was one of the scariest but most important things I’ve ever done,” Mendes told People. “I still struggle with it but just remember every day that everyone deals with some level of anxiety or pressure; we’re all in it together.”
Mendes is nominated for best pop duo/group performance.
12. Camila Cabello
Singer Camila Cabello, who earned a joint Grammy nomination with Mendes for “Señorita,” was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and encourages others to talk about their mental health as well.
“I have struggled so much in the last few years with anxiety and …. I’ve had to remind myself lately, to be so kind to myself,” Cabello told the audience during a concert. “The person you need to fall in love with the most, the person you need to be kindest to, the person who you need to be most patient with, in love with, is actually you.”
Cabello is nominated for best pop duo/group performance.
13. Andrea Bocelli
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. They have intelligence but they can’t speak to us, instead they choose to love and give themselves unconditionally. As Victor Hugo wrote they remain the truest representation of virtue – virtue that, unable to become man, became animal. . Sanno ma non dicono, scelgono invece di amare e donare se stessi, incondizionatamente… e, come ha scritto Victor Hugo, restano il miglior sinonimo della virtù. Virtù che non potendo farsi uomo, si è fatta animale.
Known for his rich operatic voice, Andrea Bocelli was born with congenital glaucoma, and had partial vision, before he became completely blind at age 12 after being hit in the head. During a 2010 concert, Bocelli thanked his mom for not having an abortion before he was born, despite pressure from her doctors.
“The doctors had to apply some ice on her stomach and when the treatments ended the doctors suggested that she abort the child,” he said. “Maybe I’m partisan, but I can say that it was the right choice and I hope that this could encourage many mothers who sometimes might find themselves in difficult situations but want to save the life of their baby.”
Bocelli is nominated for best traditional pop vocal album.
14. Ed Sheeran
A master of catchy bops like “Shape of You,” Ed Sheeran shared he started struggling with debilitating anxiety once he landed in the spotlight.
“I lost the ability to go to the supermarket and buy a loaf of bread about three years ago,” Sheeran said in a YouTube video. “I get anxiety every day. It creeps up on you. I’ve been working on it for eight years and I closed off from reality.”
Sheeran is nominated for best pop vocal album.
15. Tony Iommi
A big thanks to Glenn Macdonald for building my home studio that’s now in the Home of Metal, he did a great job.
Tony Iommi was a guitarist for the classic rock band Black Sabbath. Now working as a solo artist, Iommi is in remission from lymphoma after being diagnosed with cancer in 2012.
“I was knocked for six when the doctors told me that it was, that it was stage III cancer,” Iommi said in 2016. “It really did change my life as far as what I have to do now. I have to live what life I’ve got because I have been on the road nearly 50 years. I need to be at home more and I need to pay more attention to my friends and family.”
Iommi is nominated for best metal performance.
16. Jesse Leach (Killswitch Engage)
Metalcore lead singer Jesse Leach of Killswitch Engage was nominated for a metal Grammy this year, revealed he lives with anxiety and depression that he now manages with therapy.
“I realised that anxiety and depression kind of come hand-in-hand with me,” Leach told NME. “I’ll get unbelievably anxious and then, from trying to suppress that I’ll get anxiety attacks, and then after that I want to sleep for days. I was like that for years. I either wanted to sleep or disappear. But when you have a language to put to it — like the doctor did with their diagnosis of me — you start to gain tools and methods in how to deal with it.”
Killswitch Engage is nominated for best metal performance.
17. Matthew Healy (The 1975)
Matthew Healy, frontman of the Grammy-nominated pop/rock band the 1975, shared in 2018 realized he needed help for his addiction issues as well as how powerful working toward sobriety can be.
“People had started to lose respect for me, but not an irredeemable amount,” Healy told Billboard. “The fact that I knew I was building on something that wasn’t destroying made me feel really strong. Because I knew that one more time and that’s it.”
The 1975 is nominated for best rock song.
18. Oli Sykes (Bring Me The Horizon)
Bring Me The Horizon is a U.K.-based rock band fronted by Oliver Sykes. Sykes shared during a 2014 event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum he was now in recovery from addiction, which helped he and his band create better music.
“I was hopeless before,” Sykes said. “This time I’ll be in a much better frame, and the way we write now is a lot faster than we used to. I’m confident we can have a good album.”
Bring Me The Horizon is nominated for best rock album.
19. I Prevail
Nominated for a Grammy for their album “Trauma,” it’s perhaps no surprise rock band I Prevail has personal experience with mental health, and they hope their music can bring others who are struggling comfort too.
“Hopefully this record and these songs can help prevent certain things from happening in the future,” band member Brian Burkheiser told Billboard. “We’ve all gone through moments where things have gotten pretty blurry. You hope certain people can put on a certain track in a time of need and feel like, ‘Wow, someone else is dealing with this, just like me.’”
I Prevail is nominated for best metal performance and best rock album.
20. James Blake
In a 2019 personal essay, singer/songwriter James Blake candidly wrote about living with depression and experiencing suicidal thoughts as well as how his experiences come through in his music.
“During my school years I spent thousands of hours walking on my own with headphones on or playing piano in the practice rooms, often going there first to cry in private and then occasionally with a mind to play,” Blake wrote. “I wanted people to know how I felt, but I didn’t have the vocabulary to tell them.”
Blake is nominated for best alternative music album.
21. Bryson Tiller
Rapper Bryson Tiller got real about how depression impacted his work and music in response to someone who speculated about his mental health online.
“1. i was depressed before i made that album and you can hear it in the music 2. statistically, we didn’t do that great because of it.. and 3. depression ended in 2017 and i been workin hard ever since. stay tuned,” Tiller tweeted.
1. i was depressed before i made that album and you can hear it in the music 2. statistically, we didn’t do that great because of it.. and 3. depression ended in 2017 and i been workin hard ever since. stay tuned https://t.co/dVIjYLHo9C
— tiller (@brysontiller) May 7, 2018
Tiller is nominated for best R&B performance.
22. J. Cole
Cole, a rapper and songwriter known for both his solo work and collaborations with other artists, opened up about his depression during a campaign for #OKNotToBeOK.
“There’s a mentality that I had that was never shaken, it was quiet, it wasn’t outspoken, it was all in [my head],” Cole said in a video. “The minute that changes and now I’m dealing with a mindstate I’ve never had to deal with before – which is fighting all these negative thoughts — that’s the dark place I’m talking about.”
Cole is nominated for best rap performance, best rap/sung performance and best rap song.
23. Young Thug
Rapper Young Thug got his start collaborating with artists like Birdman and Gucci Mane, and now he has his own Grammy nomination. He also hopes his willingness to talk about his depression will help others reach out for help.
“At war with depression,” Young Thug wrote on social media. Adding in a Fader cover story, “I just want to open up,” Thug says. “Let people know that I’m not just a rapper, I’m a human being. Let people know whatever they go through, I done been through or somebody done been through it.”
Thug is nominated for best rap/sung performance.
24. Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper made a name for himself as an independent artist and philanthropist. Lesser known, however, is the rapper’s previous struggle with addiction, which nearly derailed his music career.
“I was just doing a lot of drugs, just hanging out. I was gone all the time,” he told GQ.
Chance The Rapper is nominated for best rap song.
25. Meek Mill
Rapper Meek Mill earned a Grammy nomination, but you’ve also likely seen his name in headlines for his difficult history with the justice system. Mill has started advocating for better addiction treatment options based on his personal experience.
“At one point in my life, I was actually addicted to opioids,” Mill said in 2018. “I think it should be a line drawn where you have a drug problem and you’re scared to tell your probation officer you have a drug problem because you don’t want to be sent to prison for years.”
Mill is nominated for best rap album.
26. Ashley McBryde
Like many other people, country singer Ashley McBryde developed anxiety after a major life stressor — in McBryde’s case, the death of her brother.
“I developed anxiety really, really, really bad right after Clay died,” she told People. “I mean, they were bad panic attacks. They are under control now, but I didn’t understand what was going on.”
McBryde is nominated for best country solo performance and best country song.
27. Gloria Gaynor
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Gloria Gaynor put her anthem “I Will Survive” to the test multiple times as a sexual abuse survivor and after surviving a risky spine surgery in 2018 that helped Gaynor put an end to decades of chronic pain. She’s nominated for two gospel Grammys this year.
“There were times when I had to sleep in a chair because I just couldn’t sleep lying down,” Gaynor told People. “This is it. I can’t live like this.”
Gaynor is nominated for best gospel performance/song and best roots gospel album.
28. Natalie Grant
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After a beautiful day in the Northwest celebrating my birthday, I’m headed to bed with a grateful heart as I reflect on my past year and look forward to what’s ahead. Here I am – makeup free, filter free, lash free haha…and I’ve got to be honest – each year deeper in to my forties I get, the freer I feel and the more comfortable in my own skin I become. Yep, I got a few more wrinkles around the eyes this past year, but they came from laughing till I cried, and at times, crying till I laughed. So, bring on another year – letting go of what I’m not, and thanking God for what I am. And thank you, Jesus for your continued faithfulness.
Christian singer Natalie Grant’s soulful voice has earned her praise and fresh Grammy nominations. She’s also faced a scary health situation with cancer and needed to have part of her thyroid removed.
“The pathology results have revealed that it was, in fact, papillary thyroid cancer,” Grant said in a Facebook video. “Now, I had two cancerous nodules inside that right lobe, but pathology has also revealed that the cancer was completely contained within those nodules. So, in other words, they got it all.”
Grant is nominated for best gospel performance/song.
29. Tasha Cobbs
A big name in the gospel world, Tasha Cobbs has also been open about living with depression, urging others — especially in the church — to talk about getting about for your mental health.
“Going to therapy was new for me. I didn’t know anyone who went to therapy – or so I thought,” she wrote for Essence in 2016, adding:
When I started going to therapy I only told my closest friends and family. They were all very supportive. They would call and say, ‘Did you go to your appointment today? What happened? Did you have a breakthrough?’ But I know some people don’t have that kind of support system— especially in our culture—and they suffer in silence. We need to fix this.
Cobbs is nominated for best gospel performance/song.
30. Mark Hall (Casting Crowns)
The youth pastor Mark Hall who started the Grammy-nominated Christian rock band Casting Crowns faced kidney cancer in 2016.
“For a day there it really rocked me. I was going through feelings and doubts and fear and worry… my feelings were all over the map,” Hall said in an interview. “When you’re the youth pastor, you’re the guy who helps everybody else through their storm. And now, suddenly, I’m in the middle of my own. It was definitely a shock.”
Casting Crowns is nominated for best contemporary Christian music performance/song.
31. Luke Smallbone (For King & Country)
Christian pop duo For King & Country — comprised of Joel and Luke Smallbone — faced a major health challenge when Luke’s inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis became life-threatening. Luke, now in remission, said the experience gave him a new perspective.
“I had to ask myself, am I going to be someone who chooses joy or focuses on what I don’t have,” Luke told the Tampa Bay Times in 2018. “I look back at some of those moments in hard times as being positive. It’s not possible to feel joy all the time but we can be mindful and change our outlook.”
For King & Country is nominated for best contemporary Christian music performance/song and best contemporary Christian music album.
32. Danny Gokey
Danny Gokey is nominated for a Grammy for his Christian single, “Haven’t Seen It Yet.” In 2018, Gokey shared how he struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts after his wife died in 2008. He now uses his platform to encourage others to find support.
“What I’ve been opening up about lately is mental health issues,” Gokey told the Register-Gard. “A lot of people are fighting secret battles. People are committing suicide because they don’t know how to deal with the problems they’re up against, and so we’re really trying to take a stance on that and address it during the show.”
Gokey is nominated for best contemporary Christian music performance/song and best contemporary Christian music album.
33. Zach Williams
Christian singer Zach Williams credits his faith with helping him recover from addiction, and he’s open about his past struggles and journey to sobriety.
“I was so broken. I just knew I couldn’t do it anymore,” Williams told Faithwire. “[I told the Lord], ‘God, if there’s something here that you can use … I’m so done with this lifestyle.”
Williams is nominated for best contemporary Christian music performance/song.
34. J Balvin
The Colombian reggaeton star you might recognize from his feature on Cardi B’s “I Like It,” J Balvin shared on social media he struggled with depression and anxiety and encouraged his followers to seek help.
“After 2 months of hell I am already feeling heaven again, anxiety and depression is a reality,” he tweeted (translated from Spanish). “Seek professional help.”
Balvin is nominated for best latin rock, urban or alternative album.
35. Sara Bareilles
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This picture captured me in such a nuanced way I don’t even know what to say about it. Except bye NYC. #amidstthechaostour #ATCTour #hashtagauditions It also feels like my captioning skills have really improved. I’m feeling well rested. #wellrested #touringwhileresting #tourrest (see what I did there?) (pic by my @joetipps)
The singer/songwriter behind classic pop songs like “Brave” and “Gravity,” Sara Bareilles (Grammy-nominated this year for Best American Roots Performance) wrote about her mental health history in her memoir, “Sounds Like Me.”
“I don’t think you have to be an artist to be overwhelmed by life,” Bareilles told SheKnows. “Every single person I know (without exception) has had moments where they feel like they don’t know which way is up. But I think part of the work we as humans are here to do is to learn to understand and have compassion for what is uncomfortable.”
Bareilles is nominated for best American roots performance.
36. Rosanne Cash
A music star like her late father, Rosanne Cash struggled for years with chronic headaches without a diagnosis. Eventually, she was diagnosed with the brain condition Chiari I malformation after several misdiagnoses and required surgery.
“I’ve had headaches for as long as I can remember,” Cash told Brain & Life. “Even though I figured I would have to undergo brain surgery, I was flooded with relief that someone finally knew what was wrong with me.”
Cash is nominated for best American roots song.
37. FKA Twigs
FKA Twigs earned a Grammy nomination for her “Cellophane” music video, and the singer-songwriter has openly talked about her mental health and fibroids in her uterus.
“I know that a lot of women suffer from fibroid tumors and I just wanted to say after my experience that you are amazing warriors and that you are not alone,” FKA Twigs shared on Instagram. “You can get through this.”
FKA Twigs is nominated for best music video.
38. David Crosby
A legend in the music world, David Crosby earned a Grammy nod for the music documentary about his life, “Remember My Name,” which comes at a time when Crosby is reflecting back on recovering from addiction, hepatitis C, type 2 diabetes and heart issues.
“I’m a highly flawed human being, and I’ve made lots of mistakes,” Crosby told the Los Angeles Times. “This wasn’t easy. It was very painful. But you know, I did 14 years in AA. And if it teaches you anything, it teaches you that being honest works.”
Crosby is nominated for best music film.
The 62nd Grammy Awards will air live on Jan. 26, 2020, on CBS. You can check out the full nominations list here.
Additional reporting by Monique Vitche, The Mighty’s associate mental health editor.
Header Images via Creative Commons/Tim L. Cruse, Treefort Photo Dept and Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer