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April 25, 2023

SZA to be honored as Artist of the Year at 2023 Webby Awards

The R&B singer, who was raised in Maplewood, has 'captured the internet's attention with her genre-bending sound,' according to the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences

SZA has been recognized by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences for the success of her latest album, "SOS" and powerful use of the internet to share her art and set trends as part of the 27th Annual Webby Awards. 

The singer will take home the award for Artist of the Year at this year's Webby Awards, which will take place on Monday, May 15 at Ciprani Wall Street in New York City. The ceremony will be hosted by "The Daily Show" regular Roy Wood Jr. 

The International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences described SZA as an "undeniably quintessential force in music and on the internet" since the nascent days of her career in the early 2010s. Her music frequently goes viral on TikTok, producing thousands of dance videos and parodies, capturing "the internet's attention with her genre-bending sound, unique melodies and brilliantly honest songwriting." 

"This year's Webby Winners speak to the incredible potential of the internet and the people who shape it," Clare Graves, president of the Webby Awards, told The Hollywood Reporter. "They have set the benchmark for excellence in their respective category and are an inspiration for us all to continue striving towards a more connected and creative digital world." 

SZA, who was born in St. Louis but raised in Maplewood, New Jersey, has utilized the internet to amass a large, loyal fanbase for more than a decade. From posting demos and unreleased music on Soundcloud to sparking viral video trends on TikTok, nearly everything SZA touches on the internet is successful, according to the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. 

Her second studio album, "SOS," was released in December and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200, where it remained for 10 non-consecutive weeks. It was the first R&B album to spend its first seven weeks on top of the charts since Whitney Houston's 1987 album "Whitney."

To commemorate the album release, SZA announced plans for a North American tour and appeared as a musical guest on "Saturday Night Live," where a clip of a sketch she appeared in went viral on TikTok. 

After postponing the Philadelphia stop on her first arena tour, which was scheduled for March 2, the R&B singer will head to the Wells Fargo Center on Sept. 26. Tickets are sold out, as all tickets from the original date are being honored. 

Other Webby Award winners include emoji creator Shigetaka Kurita, ChatGPT, Tracee Ellis Ross, "Bad Sisters" creator Sharon Horgan, singer and actor Tobe Nwigwe and the "SmartLess" podcast hosted by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett.

The special achievement winners are chosen by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, the members of which include Quinta Brunson, Questlove, Samantha Bee, LeVar Burton, Roxane Gay, Ziwe Fumudoh, Takashi Murakami and Tan France. 

This year, the Franklin Institute's digital video series "A Practical Guide to the Cosmos" earned a Webby nomination for a People's Voice award. Hosted by astronomer Derrick Pitts, the eight-part series discusses the universe, exploring topics like exoplanets, galaxies, black holes and space missions. 

That award, in the "How-To, Explainer & DIY" video category, ultimately went to "No Stupid Questions with Brandon Copeland." 

Iconic Philadelphia figures and institutions are no stranger to the Webby Awards, as Flyers mascot Gritty has earned several wins and nominations. The Philadelphia Eagles, Zoo and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have all been previously recognized. 

Winners in each Webby Award category will be invited to deliver speeches during the in-person awards ceremony on Monday, May 15 at Ciprani Wall Street in New York City. Highlights from the ceremony will be available on the Webby Awards' website, YouTube channel and Twitter feed.