On Tuesday, the Recording Academy announced its full list of nominations for the 2021 Grammy Awards, set to air on January 31st on CBS.
While our particular tastes here at Live For Live Music often don’t align with the mainstream acts recognized at the Grammys, this year’s list of nominees does, in fact, include some of our favorite acts in various categories.
After being nominated for “Best New Artist” last year, Black Pumas made waves with the release of Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition) this past summer, earning the Austin, TX psychedelic soul outfit a nomination for “Album of the Year” alongside more pop-leaning efforts from Jhené Aiko, Coldplay, HAIM, Dua Lipa, Post Malone, and Taylor Swift. Black Pumas also earned nods for “Record of the Year” (“Colors“) and “Best American Roots Performance”.
Another surprise in the “Album of the Year” category is the electronics-oriented Djesse Vol. 3 by Jacob Collier, the 26-year-old English multi-instrumentalist who’s been making waves for several years with viral performance videos and various sonically-diverse releases with an eclectic cast of supporting characters. Collier’s Djesse Vol. 3 track “All I Need”, which features Ty Dolla $ign and Mahalia, also got a nomination for “Best R&B Performance”, and the young artist picked up two more nods in the “Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals” category. While Collier has won four previous Grammys for his arranging work (two each in 2017 and 2020, respectively), this marks his first time cracking the “major” nomination categories.
H.E.R., the young singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, continued her recent Awards Show successes with three new 2021 Grammy Nominations, including “Song of the Year” (“I Can’t Breathe”) and “Best R&B Song” category (“Slow Down”). H.E.R. was also featured on Robert Glasper and Meshell Ndegeocello‘s “Better Than I Imagined”, which picked up a nomination in the “Best R&B Song” category.
Indie rocker Phoebe Bridgers also cleaned up with four 2021 Grammy nominations for “Best New Artist”, “Best Alternative Music Album” (Punisher), and “Best Rock Performance” and “Best Rock Song” (“Kyoto“).
In the “Best Contemporary Instrumental Album” category, live albums by Jon Batiste (Chronology of a Dream: Live at the Village Vanguard) and Snarky Puppy (Live at the Royal Albert Hall) were honored with nominations. Of note, Batiste was also nominated alongside Cory Wong in the “Best New Age Album” category for their instrumental EP, Meditations.
The “Rock” categories for the 2021 Grammy Awards are dominated by some badass female artists. All six of the tracks nominated for “Best Rock Performance” are performed by women, including Bridgers, Fiona Apple (“Shameika”), Big Thief (“Not”), HAIM (“The Steps”), Brittany Howard (“Stay High”), and Grace Potter (“Daylight”). Each of those artists was nominated for a slew of other awards as well, with Howard notching five total nods, Apple grabbing three, and Potter, HAIM, Big Thief (Adrianne Lenker) earning two each.
In the controversial “Best Progressive R&B Album” category, artists like Free Nationals (Free Nationals), Robert Glasper (F*** Yo Feelings), and Thundercat (It Is What It Is) got some recognition, while Anderson .Paak picked up a nod for “Best Melodic Rap Performance” for his work on his BLM-inspired single, “Lockdown“.
The “American Roots Music” categories also feature a number of nods for some familiar faces. The “Best American Roots Performance” category features nominations for Nora Jones & Mavis Staples (“I’ll Be Gone“) and the late John Prine (“I Remember Everything“) in addition to Black Pumas and Brittany Howard. Prine also earned a second nod in the “Best America Roots Song” category alongside Sierra Hull & Kai Welch (“Ceiling To The Floor”), Sarah Jarosz (“Hometown”), and more.
In the “Best Americana Album” category, young guitarist/vocalist/bandleader Marcus King got his first-ever Grammy nomination for his debut solo album, El Dorado. Read our feature interview with King about the Grammy-nominated album here. Hiss Golden Messenger also grabbed a nomination in the “Best Americana Album” category for Terms of Surrender. Of note, bluegrass phenom Billy Strings also picked up his first Grammy nomination in the “Best Bluegrass Album” category for HOME.
In the “Blues” categories, we also find some familiar names and faces. 86-year-old blues legend Bobby Rush, who delivered a fascinating performance at Live For Live Music‘s Justice Comes Alive in June, earned a nomination for “Best Traditional Blues Album” (Rawer Than Raw), while fan-favorite acts like Fantastic Negrito (Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?), D. Love (The Juice), and North Mississippi Allstars (Up and Rolling) earned nods in the “Best Contemporary Blues Album” category.
Finally, in the “Producer of the Year, Non-Classical” category, we see a number of familiar names including Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys (who produced the Grammy-nominated Marcus King album, among others) and decorated producer Dave Cobb, whose 2020 resume includes material by The Highwomen, Jason Isbell, and John Prine.
For a full list of 2021 Grammy Awards nominations and categories, head here.