The Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance was an honor presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards, to recording artists for quality urban/alternative performances. Awards in several categories are distributed annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position."
The award was first awarded to India.Arie at the 45th Grammy Awards (2003) for her song "Little Things". According to the category description guide for the 52nd Grammy Awards, the award was presented to artists that had made "newly recorded urban/alternative performances with vocals". The award was intended to recognize artists "who have been influenced by a cross section of urban music" and who create music that is out of the "mainstream trends".