The award show of the GRAMMY’s 2021 was surely one of the greatest events this year. The talents from all around the world took the show to new heights. Join us as we take you through the highlights, list of winners, representation of Indian music and a lot more about the GRAMMY awards. Read to find out more.
Madhulika Gupta | BeatCurry Team
GRAMMY is one of the most prestigious music awards in the world. Various artists submit their records with the dream of getting the gold-plated gramophone, which is popularly known as the GRAMMY award. Introduced first in 1959 in L.A, the name GRAMMY was given as a homage to the gramophone, which made a revolutionary impact on the music industry. Since then, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) presents the GRAMMY Award in a ceremony held annually every year in the States. Each year, famous personnel from all over the globe gather here to celebrate and recognize global talents and achievement in the music industry. The ceremony awards give worldwide exposure and massive inspiration to deserving artists.
THE 63rd GRAMMY AWARD FUNCTION
The 63rd GRAMMY award function took place on 14th March 2021 in Los Angeles Convention Center. Though the world is going through a pandemic, GRAMMY decided to conduct its annual award function with some major tweaks-rules and guidelines included permission of only four people to sit at every table along with the compulsory wearing of a mask and maintaining social distancing.
“I’m excited to announce our latest changes, as we’re constantly evaluating our awards process and evolving it to ensure the GRAMMY awards are inclusive and reflect the current state of the music industry,” said Harvey Mason jr., Chair & Interim President/ CEO of the Recording Academy.
Besides that, there were several changes made in the categories as well. Though the venue was the L.A. Convention Center, the usual venue of Staples Center was kept as a backup.
While Harry Styles rocked the stage with his incredible style and voice by singing the hit solo, “Watermelon Sugar,” Billie Eilish, as usual, surprised everyone with her soothing voice. Taylor Swift entertained her audience by performing her latest album hits: Folklore and Evermore. There was even a performance by the famous K-Pop boy band, B.T.S. The crowd loved Dua Lipa’s “Levitating”, and it was indeed the major highlight of the evening.
For fans in India, the GRAMMYs began streaming on the 15th March at 5:30 AM on Sony Liv. Many fans excitedly watched the whole function and were delighted with the results.
THE GRAMMY AWARD WINNERS 2021: ANNOUNCED
Record of the Year: Billie Eilish, “Everything I Wanted”
Album of the Year: Taylor Swift, Folklore
Best R&B Performance: Beyoncé, “Black Parade”
Best Pop Vocal Album: Dua Lipa, Future Nostalgia
Best Rap Song: Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé, “Savage.”
Song of the Year: H.E.R., “I Can’t Breathe.”
Best Latin Pop or Urban Album: Bad Bunny, YHLQMDLG
Best Melodic Rap Performance: Anderson.Paak, “Lockdown”
Best Pop Solo Performance: Harry Styles, “Watermelon Sugar”
Best Country Album: Miranda Lambert, Wildcard
Best New Artist: Megan Thee Stallion
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Andrew Watt
Best Country Song: The High women, “Crowded Table.”
Best Country Duo/Group Performance: Dan + Shay & Justin Bieber, “10,000 Hours.”
Best Country Solo Performance: Vince Gill, When My Amy Prays
Best Rock Album: The Strokes, The New Abnormal
Best Rock Song: Brittany Howard, “Stay High”
Best Metal Performance: Body Count, “Bum-Rush”
Best Rock Performance: Fiona Apple, “Shameika”
Best Rap Album: Nas, King’s Disease
Best Rap Performance: Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé, “Savage.”
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: James Taylor, American Standard
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande, “Rain on Me”
Best R&B Album: John Legend, Bigger Love
Best Progressive R&B Album: Thundercat, It Is What It Is
Best R&B Song: Robert Glasper featuring H.E.R.H.E.R. & Meshell Ndegeocello, “Better Than I Imagined.”
Best Traditional R&B Performance: Ledisi, “Anything for You”
Best Latin Jazz Album: Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Four Questions
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album: Maria Schneider Orchestra, Data Lords
Best Jazz Instrumental Album: Chick Corea, Christian McBride and Brian Blade, Trilogy 2
Best Jazz Vocal Album: Kurt Elling Featuring Danilo Pérez, Secrets Are the Best Stories
Best improvised Jazz Solo: Chick Corea’s “All Blues.”
Best Alternative Music Album: Fiona Apple, Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Best Musical Theatre Album: Original Broadway Cast, Jagged Little Pill
Best Comedy Album Winner: Tiffany Haddish, Black Mitzvah
Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books and Storytelling): Rachel Maddow, Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, And The Richest, Most Destructive Industry On Earth
Best Children’s Music Album: Joanie Leeds, All the Ladies
Best Global Music Album: Burna Boy, Twice as Tall
Best Reggae Album: Toots and the Maytals, Got to Be Tough
Best Regional Roots Music Album: New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Atmosphere
Best Folk Album: Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, All the Good Times
Best Contemporary Blues Album: Fantastic Negrito, Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?
Best Traditional Blues Album: Bobby Rush, Rawer Than Raw
Best Bluegrass Album: Billy Strings, Home
Best Americana Album: Sarah Jarosz, World on the Ground
Best American Roots Song: John Prine, “I Remember Everything”
Best American Roots Performance: John Prine, I Remember Everything
Best Song Written for Visual Media: Billie Eilish, “No Time to Die” (From No Time to Die)
Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media: Hildur Guðnadóttir, Joker
Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media: Various Artists, Jojo Rabbit
Best Contemporary Classical Composition: Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony, Rouse: Symphony No. 5
Best Classical Compendium: Michael Tilson Thomas, Thomas, M.T.: From The Diary Of Anne Frank & Meditations On Rilke
Best Classical Solo Vocal Album: Sarah Brailey & Dashon Burton, Smyth: The Prison
Best Classical Instrumental Solo: Richard O’Neill, Theofanidis: Concerto For Viola And Chamber Orchestra
Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance: Pacifica Quartet, Contemporary Voices
Best Choral Performance: JoAnn Falletta, James K. Bass & Adam Luebke, Danielpour: The Passion Of Yeshua
Best Opera Recording: David Robertson, Eric Owens & Angel Blue, Gershwin: Porgy And Bess
Best Orchestral Performance: Gustavo Dudamel, Ives: Complete Symphonies
Best Tropical Latin Album: Grupo Niche, 40
Best Regional Mexican Album (Including Tejano): Natalia Lafourcade, Un Canto Por México, Vol. 1
Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album: Fito Paez, La Conquista Del Espacio
Producer of the Year, Classical: David Frost
Best Engineered Album, Classical: Riccardo Muti & Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13, ‘Babi Yar’
Best Remixed Recording: SAINt J.H.N.J.H.N., “Roses” (Imanbek Remix)
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical: Beck, Hyperspace
Best Historical Album: Mister Rogers, It’s Such A Good Feeling: The Best Of Mister Rogers
Best Album Notes: The Replacements, Dead Man’s Pop
Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package: Wilco, Ode to Joy
Best Recording Package: Vols. 11 & 12 Desert Sessions
Best Roots Gospel Album: Fisk Jubilee Singers, Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary)
Best Gospel Album: PJ Morton, Gospel According To P.J.P.J.
Best Contemporary Christian Music Album: Kanye West, Jesus Is King
Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song: Zach Williams & Dolly Parton, “There Was Jesus”
Best Gospel Performance/Song: Jonathan McReynolds & Mali Music, “Movin’ On”
Best New Age Album: Jim “Kimo” West, More Guitar Stories
Best Music Film: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice
Best Music Video: Beyoncé with Blue Ivy, and WizKiD, “Brown Skin Girl”
Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals: Jacob Collier with Rhapsody, “He Won’t Hold You.”
Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella: John Beasley, “Donna Lee”
Best Instrumental Composition: Maria Schneider, Sputnik
Best Contemporary Instrumental Album: Snarky Puppy, Live at the Royal Albert Hall
Best Dance/Electronic Album: Kaytranada, Bubba
Best Dance Recording: Kaytranada, “10%.”
Several former winners were present, along with many new-comers who shared the nominations for the first time. Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish took home their GRAMMYs’ to place it in their “Special GRAMMY Rack,” while for Harry Styles, this was his first GRAMMY and he couldn’t be any happier. The first Black female artist, Mickey Guyton got nominated for the best country solo performance. The little-known soul band, Black Pumas was present as well. The band got nominated in three categories which include Record of the Year and Album of the Year at the 63rd annual GRAMMY Awards.
The winners are selected based on the voting. The musicians and record companies can send in their records and songs in the eligibility year, which they think is worthy of getting the GRAMMY. The nomination process takes place once the submission date is over. More than 350 experts are present in the panel of judges who approve or reject the records based on the qualifications and categories. The experts put each record in the appropriate category following the screening process and then proceed towards the nomination process.
For nominating the records, the members of the panel are required to vote for the selected records. The members have to vote only in their area of expertise. For example, an R&B expert cannot vote in the country song category, and as such. After the nominating process, the final round of ballots start. In this particular round, the finalists are selected based on the special nominating committees. The members of the Recording Academy can vote in ten different categories in three different genres. However, once the whole voting process is over, the winners are known only during the award ceremony. Before that, the name of the winner is not disclosed to any single person.
A CONTROVERSIAL YEAR
The 2021 GRAMMY Awards nominations also proved to be one of the most controversial ones in its history as allegations of racial biases and lack of transparency were raised during the nominations and awards process.
The Weeknd took social media by storm as he tweeted, “The GRAMMYs remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.” This powerful and shocking tweet came in a moment of disappointment as he surprisingly didn’t get any place in the nomination lists for his album, ‘Any Hours’ which had every track chart on the Hot 100. The album also topped the Billboard Charts at No. 1 position. Even Japanese soloist Rina Sawamaya’s album ‘Sawayama’ was totally snubbed off from the nomination list, despite the album being regarded as one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year. The monumental fan support and the failure to acknowledge top-charting releases from artists of colour hasn’t been a new trend in the history of GRAMMYs.
Even in 2016, Lehigh University’s interdisciplinary scholar John Vilanova pointed out how the GRAMMY awards have lacked racial equality after Taylor Swift edged past Kendrick Lamar for the Album of the Year award. In the last ten years, there have been 17 non-white artists nominated for the GRAMMY Award for album of the year, of those seventeen, the only winner was Herbie Hancock in 2008 who paid tribute to the folk artist Joni Mitchell through his music. Lauryn Hill in 1999 was the last Black women to have bagged the album of the year
It is understandable that for such a huge award, the secret voting system prevents lobbying but that has kept the artists wondering if there is adequate diversity and representation among those that decide. Allegations of racial bias in the secret GRAMMY voting group have also grown considerably over the past decade. Fans are expecting changes to be made in the judging criteria for future GRAMMY Awards nominations. They believe that their plea for transparency needs to be addressed by the GRAMMY award officials and is of utmost importance.
But, the fans have plenty to celebrate amidst all the concerns as the ‘Black King Project’ of Beyonce got nominated for the award along with her solo work. Artists hope that these slightest indications of the GRAMMY moving in the right way will create a trend that will continue for the upcoming GRAMMY ceremonies.
REPRESENTATION OF INDIAN MUSIC AT THE GRAMMYs
Especially with the virtual performance of Anoushka Shankar, it was definitely a moment of joy for Indians around the world. “There is a certain kind of joy and camaraderie to being in the same place with so many artists, all celebrating each other-that was missing this year. But then, it was also nice to see out my nomination from my own sofa with my kids,” Shankar told the media.
Although, we can slowly see Indians on this global platform almost every year, this is not a new thing. Indians have been a part of GRAMMYs even since the 1960s. Sitar maestros like Pandit Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka Shankar have been people’s favourite for more than six decades now including some honourable mentions of legends like the Sarod player, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, especially in his album Raga Mishra Piloo along with other nominations. Who could forget the director and conductor, Zubin Mehta, in his famous albums of the Star Wars And Close Encounters Of The Third Kind or even The Fourth Of July. People swooned when Zakir Hussain showed the kind of Tabla wizard he was in the famous Global Drum Project.
Not to forget, AR Rahman the legend himself, who still is relevant to the masses around the world, famous for his composition of the album, Slumdog Millionaire.
Here are the mentions of some of the other well-known maestros and talents who have taken Indian Music to even greater heights:
T.H. Vinayakram: 1991: Best World Music Album – Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum
Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt: 1993: Best World Music Album- A Meeting By the River
H Sridhar: 2010: Best Compilation Soundtrack Album- Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media – Slumdog Millionaire
P A Deepak: 2010: Best Compilation Soundtrack Album- Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media – Slumdog Millionaire
Tanvi Shah: 2010: Best Song Written- Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media: Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire
Ricky Kej: 2015: New Age Album- Winds of Samsara
Priya Darshini: 2020: New Age Album- Periphery (NOMINEE)
A noticeable pattern in each one of these prodigies is that everyone has an element of uniqueness, close to their birth roots. They are Indians who have successfully portrayed our culture and displayed it, creating an understanding within the people from beyond our borders. This is especially important, to be accustomed to our individuality and show the world what we have to offer.
One such objective for all of us is to support and empower composers, lyricists, singers, producers and other fraternity members and in turn, hope to see more nominations and the more deserving, genuine and fresh artists getting the recognition.
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