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11 Grammy recipients that prove you don’t need to carry a tune to win big.

Turns out, you don't have to be all that musical to snag a Grammy.

11 Grammy recipients that prove you don’t need to carry a tune to win big.

There are a few Grammy Award categories that have given hope to us non-musically inclined folks for decades...

...you know, the categories where you don't need a musical bone in your body to win — like Best Spoken Word Album. Because of these categories, a handful of notable winners have snatched up music's most coveted award throughout the years without having to sing a single note.

In honor of the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 15, 2016, here are 11 people you may be surprised to learn have Grammys under their belts (plus one very surprising nominee).


1. Jimmy Carter (2007)

Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS.

That's right — he wasn't just our 39th president; the 91-year-old is a Grammy winner, too. Carter won the Spoken Word category in 2007 for his book "Our Endangered Values." And hey, look at that — he just won the same award this year for his most recent literary endeavor, "A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety." (He had some stiff competition in Amy Poehler but took the gold gramophone trophy home anyway. Sorry, Amy.)

You go, Mr. President.

2. Magic Johnson (1993)

Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images.

Johnson worked his magic at the Grammys in 1993, when he won Best Spoken Word or Nonmusical Album for "What Can You Do to Avoid AIDS." Johnson, who's HIV-positive, has long been an advocate on the issue, raising millions of dollars for research and prevention through his foundation.

What a class act on and off the hardwood.

3. Hillary Clinton (1997)

Photo by Jon Levy/AFP/Getty Images.

Years ago, when Hillary Clinton wasn't filling her days campaigning to be our next president, she won a Grammy. It was in 1997, for her book "It Takes a Village" in the category (yep, you guessed it) Best Spoken Word Album.

Get it, girl.

4. Elmo (1999, 2000, 2002)

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

Elmo! I can think of no one (and that includes puppets) more deserving of a golden megaphone than everybody's favorite furry red friend. Get this: He's won a Grammy three times (in 1999, 2000, and 2002), all for Best Musical Album for Children. Ah, Sesame Street ... good times.

5. Martin Luther King Jr. (1971)

Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Back in 1971, at the 13th annual Grammy Awards, the late Martin Luther King Jr. won Best Spoken Word Recording for his book "Why I Oppose the Vietnam War," about three years after he was assassinated.

Other awards the civil rights leader received? The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the Nobel Peace Prize. (No wonder he's one of the most widely admired people of the 20th century.)

6. Bill Clinton (2004, 2008)

Photo by Mehdi Taamallah/AFP/Getty Images.

Hey, Carter isn't the only American president (or Clinton, for that matter) who's snagged a Grammy. Bill Clinton has won two. In 2004, he won Best Spoken Word Album for Children for narrating "Wolf Tracks and Peter and the Wolf" (something he has in common with numbers 7 and 8 on this list), as well as in 2008, when he won Best Spoken Word Album for his autobiography, "My Life."

7. Sophia Loren (2004)

Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Famed Italian actor Sophia Loren may be known for her acting chops (she won an Academy Award in 1961 for her role in "Two Women"), but her speaking voice isn't too shabby, either. She shared a Grammy win with President Clinton for "Wolf Tracks and Peter and the Wolf," along with the next dude on this list who is none other than...

8. Mikhail Gorbachev (2004)

Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

Gorbachev is probably better known as the last leader of the Soviet Union (and also being the guy President Reagan told to tear down a wall). But hey, winning a Grammy is a pretty big deal, no matter where you land in the history books or what country you've overseen.

9. Jon Stewart (2005)

Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Jon Stewart is a lot of things: funny guy, champion for 9/11 first responders, animal sanctuary overseer, and Grammy winner, to name a few. He got that last title back in 2005, when "The Daily Show" won Best Comedy Album for "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction." (I miss seeing your face on my TV every night, Jon.)

10. Barack Obama (2006, 2008)

Photo by Michael Sohn/AFP/Getty Images.

OK, maybe presidents winning a Grammy is more common than you'd think. Like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama has taken home two gramophones, both Best Spoken Word Albums, for "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope."

11. Zach Braff (2005)

Photo by Clayton Chase/Getty Images for LG Music Lodge.

Famed New Jerseyan Zach Braff is widely known for two things: being a scrub and directing, writing, and starring in 2004's "Garden State," for which he won a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album. (Say what you want about the indie flick — its soundtrack made an impression on a lot of folks.)

So there you have it — 11 surprising Grammy winners.

Has your jaw dropped yet? No? Maybe this next one will do the trick...

The Chicago Bears — yes, as in the pro football team out of Illinois — were nominated for a Grammy for "Best Rhythm and Blues Performance by a Duo or Group" back in 1985 for recording "The Super Bowl Shuffle."

This is not a drill. (The poor fellas lost out to Prince ... so let's be honest, they never really stood a chance.)

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!