The women of the music world got the spotlight at the 2021 Grammy Awards, which took place on Sunday evening in a mostly-outdoor ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center. In addition to a slew of powerful performances by female artists and a historic Grammy milestone for Beyoncé, women took home awards in an unprecedented number of categories at the 63rd annual event.
From genre-specific honors to the biggest awards of the night, female artists or female-fronted acts won “Song of the Year” (H.E.R. – “I Can’t Breathe”), “Album of the Year” (Taylor Swift – folklore), “Record of the Year” (Billie Eilish – “Everything I Wanted”), “Best New Artist” (Megan Thee Stallion), “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” (Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande – “Rain On Me”), “Best Pop Vocal Album” (Dua Lipa –Future Nostalgia), “Best Rock Song” (Brittany Howard, “Stay High“), “Best Alternative Music Album” (Fiona Apple, Fetch The Bolt Cutters), “Best R&B Performance” (Beyoncé, “Black Parade”), “Best Rap Performance” (Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé – “Savage”), “Best Rap Song” (Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé – “Savage”), “Best Country Song” (The Highwomen – “Crowded Table“), “Best Americana Album” (Sarah Jarosz – World On The Ground), “Best Comedy Album” (Tiffany Haddish – Black Mitzvah), “Best Folk Album” (All The Good Times – Gillian Welch, David Rawlings), “Best Musical Theater Album” (Alanis Morissette, Original Broadway Cast – Jagged Little Pill), “Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media” (Hildur Guðnadóttir – Joker), “Best Song Written For Visual Media” (Billie Eilish, Finneas – “No Time To Die” [From No Time To Die], “Best Instrumental Composition” (Maria Schneider – “Sputnick”), “Best Music Video” (Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, WizKid – “Brown Skin Girl”) and more.
Many of these 2021 wins by women marked historic Grammy milestones. With her four 2021 Grammy wins – putting her total at 28 – Beyoncé became the most decorated woman in Grammy history and the most decorated singer in Grammy history of any gender. With her “Album of the Year” win, Taylor Swift became the first female singer to win the honor three times. Billie Eilish, who took home the night’s “biggest prize” in the “Record of the Year” category (“Everything I Wanted”), seemed nearly embarrassed to receive the honor for the second straight year, spending the majority of her acceptance speech praising fellow nominee Megan Thee Stallion and her hit, “Savage”.
In two often male-dominated categories, “Best Country Album” and “Best Rock Performance”, every one of the nominees was a female-fronted act. Fiona Apple took home the “Best Rock Performance” price for “Shameika” while Miranda Lambert won “Best Country Album” for Wildcard.
Of course, one should also make note of the artists who aren’t women but still had successful nights at the 2021 Grammy Awards. Anderson .Paak – in addition to performing a pair of songs with Silk Sonic – won “Best Melodic Rap Performance” for “Lockdown“. Robert Glasper, Meshell Ndegeocello, and H.E.R. won “Best R&B Song” for “Better Than I Imagined”, while Bobby Rush won “Best Traditional Blues Album” for Rawer Than Raw, Fantastic Negrito won “Best Contemporary Blues Album” for Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?, and Thundercat won “Best Progressive R&B Album” for It Is What It Is.
Jacob Collier unsurprisingly lost out on his long-shot nomination for “Album of the Year,” but added to his Grammy collection with a win for “Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals” on Djesse Vol. 3 track “He Won’t Hold You” featuring Rapsody, while PJ Morton won a Grammy for the third straight year in his third different category, this time taking home “Best Gospel Album” for Gospel According to PJ.
A number of artists we love also took home their first-ever Grammy honors at the 2021 ceremony. Fourteen years after his first-ever Grammy nomination in 1997 Nas finally took home some hardware for “Best Rap Album” (King’s Disease), while indie-rock favorites The Strokes nabbed their first with a “Best Rock Album” win for The New Abnormal. In a bright spot for the greater jam-band scene, progressive bluegrass picker Billy Strings took home a Grammy for “Best Bluegrass Album” with his first-ever nomination for HOME.
The 2021 Grammys also saw a handful of wins for recently-departed music legends. The late John Prine took home a pair of awards for his posthumous “I Remember Everything” (“Best American Roots Performance” and “Best American Roots Song”). He was also one of the various musicians honored with a live performance during the ceremony’s emotional “In Memoriam” segment, as Brandi Carlile delivered a moving rendition of the newly-minted Grammy-winning track. Late jazz fusion patriarch Chick Corea also took home a pair of Grammys—one for “Best Improvised Jazz Solo” for his work on Trilogy 2, and one for the album as a whole (“Best Jazz Instrumental Album”), which also features Christian McBride and Brian Blade. Reggae pioneer “Toots” Hibbert, who also passed away in 2020, won posthumous “Best Reggae Album” honors for Got To Be Tough.
Congratulations to all the 2021 Grammy winners and nominees! Read a full list here.
Check out a round-up of some of our favorite performances from the 2021 Grammy Awards here.