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Kim Petras makes history as first openly trans pop singer to win a Grammy for 'Unholy'

Nothing unholy about this win: Kim Petras has officially made Grammy Awards history.

With her win of the 2023 Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for her and Sam Smith's hit, "Unholy," Petras became the first openly transgender woman singer to win a Grammy.

"This song has been such an incredible, incredible journey for me," she said upon accepting the award on Sunday. Petras called out Smith for being a supporter of hers for so long. In fact, Smith wanted Petras to be the only one to speak on stage because of her history-making turn, which earned a standing ovation from the audience and cheers from Smith.

"I just want to thank all the incredible transgender legends performing who kicked these doors open for me so I could be here tonight," she said. She specifically called out the late singer-songwriter and Petras collaborator, Sophie, who died two years ago. "[Sophie] told me this would happen, and always believed in me. Thank you so much for your inspiration, Sophie. I adore you."

Kim Petras and Sam Smith accept the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance award for “Unholy” onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Kim Petras and Sam Smith accept the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance award for “Unholy” onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images Kim Petras and Sam Smith won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 2023 Grammys.

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Petras also called out LGBTQ icon and queen of pop Madonna in her speech on Sunday. "Madonna for fighting for LGBTQ rights, thank you so much, I don't think I could be here without Madonna," she said. Later in the night, Madonna introduced the duo for their fiery performance of "Unholy."

In another touching moment, Petras, who hails from self-admitted "nowhere Germany," thanked her mother. "My mother believed me that I was a girl and I wouldn't be here without her and her support," she said.

This was the first Grammy nomination and win for Petras, but the fifth for Smith. "Unholy" was a smash hit in 2022. In the US, the song debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, but eventually peaked at No. 1 in its fourth week, making it the first song from either singer to do so and becoming Smith's most successful single after their 2014 hit "Stay with Me."

The two made history with the song before the Grammys on Sunday, though: When the song hit the Hot 100, Petras became the first openly transgender woman to reach No. 1, and Smith became the first openly non-binary person to do so, per Billboard.

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