Hamilton only made its Broadway debut in August, but the hit hip-hop musical has been dominating the pop-cultural conversation ever since. No stranger to stealing the spotlight at awards shows, the cast, including star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Leslie Odom Jr., and Christopher Jackson, appeared on the Grammys live via satellite from their home at the Richard Rodgers Theatre Monday night to sing the show’s opening number, “Alexander Hamilton.”
The Hamilton cast recording was nominated in the best-musical-theater-album category up against An American in Paris, Fun Home, The King and I, and Something Rotten!. But Hamilton, with its imaginative, contemporary score was easily the favorite to win against these other great shows and the only production given a shot to perform in front of a national TV audience. Miranda accepted his Grammy by—what else?—spitting a verse.
Though the cast of Hamilton already made a surprise appearance at the BET Awards last October, they are only the eighth musical cast ever to perform at the Grammys. Previous shows include a mixed bag of cultural touchstones such as Godspell (1972), The Magic Show (1975), La Cage aux Folles (1984), Will Rogers Follies (1992), Riverdance (1997), and, most recently, the Green Day jukebox musical American Idiot (2010). Hamilton has already made a favorable impression on celebrity audiences (including Beyoncé and Jay Z) and will surely perform on national television once again for the Tony Awards in June.
Back in 2009, when Hamilton was just a glimmer in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s eye, the star performed a version of tonight’s song—“Alexander Hamilton”—for President Barack Obama at the White House. To hear Miranda describe here how he thinks Hamilton embodies hip-hop (“caught beef with every other founding father”) is to understand why Hamilton is the perfect fit for the 2016 Grammy Awards.
Six years later, President Obama (a vocal Hamilton fan) quoted the show’s fictional George Washington on Twitter when announcing his final State of the Union address.