7 Reasons Why the 2021 Grammy Awards Rocked – And One Essential Caveat

Sunday was a historic day for women in the music industry! Here are 7 reasons why – with one important asterisk* that we need to keep mentioning.

H.E.R. Grammy
H.E.R. won a Grammy for 'Song Of The Year' with her track "I Can't Breathe"

If you’re just a tiny bit interested in what’s happening in the music world, you’ve probably already followed some of the news about the 63rd Grammy Awards that took place Sunday night in Los Angeles. The biggest award show in the music industry has previously been under a lot of critique for different reasons (that you should definitely take a minute to read about) – but this year, there was some pretty cool stuff going on. Here are 7 reasons why you should actually care about what happened on Sunday – and one important caveat that needs to stay front-of-mind for meaningful change to take place.

1.

Women won in all major categories

Record Of The Year. Album Of The Year. Song Of The Year. Best New Artist. Guess we don’t have to explain why this is awesome.

2.

Beyoncé wrote history – and not only as a “female artist”

With her 28th Grammy win, Queen Bey became the most-awarded woman in the history of Grammys. That’s exciting, obviously, but what’s even more exciting is the fact that she’s actually now the performing artist with most wins – ever. She shares her accomplishment on 28 wins with legendary producer Quincy Jones and is only surpassed by the classical conductor Georg Solti with 31 awards.

3.

Black Lives still Matter

Aside from her victories for Best Rap Performance for her remix of Megan Thee Stallion‘s “Savage” and Best Music Video for “Brown Skin Girl”, Beyoncé took the trophy for her song “BLACK PARADE” in the category Best R&B Performance.

The track was released on Juneteenth 2020 in the midst of the protests following the continuous police brutality in the U.S. and murder of George Floyd, and it celebrates Black culture and activism: “As an artist, I believe it’s my job to reflect the times, and it’s been such a difficult time,” she said in her acceptance speech: “So I wanted to uplift, encourage, celebrate all of the beautiful Black queens and kings that continue to inspire me and inspire the world,” she continued.

The incredible R&B singer H.E.R. also took home a Grammy for a song addressing racial injustice, when her track “I Can’t Breathe” was named Song Of The Year: “We wrote this song over FaceTime, and I didn’t imagine that my fear and that my pain would turn into impact and it would possibly turn into change,” she said from the stage.

Watch H.E.R. as she receives the award for ‘Song Of The Year’

4.

Taylor Swift also made history

With the Grammy for her album Folklore named ‘Album Of The Year’, Taylor Swift became the first female artist ever to win album of the year three times. We know it sucks that we still have to write things like “first female artist ever”, but we have to start somewhere right? And sharing the accomplishment with artists like Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra is pretty badass.

Taylor Swift accepting her award for ‘Album Of The Year’ – for the third time!

5.

Megan Thee Stallion paves the way for more women in rap

Last year’s “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion was a banger and an amazing piece of hip hop. Gladly, the Grammy-folks agreed and awarded the track Best Rap Song. This is the first time ever that a female artist takes home this prize. Hopefully not the last.

If you’re hungry for some more cool female rappers, then check out our list of 21 artists to watch this year which features new artists like Bree Runway, Jesswar, Dess Dior and KenTheMan.

Watch and learn as Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B perform at the Grammys 2021

6.

Tiffany Haddish’s viral win moment

Unless you’re a total robot, the moment Tiffany Haddish found out she’d won a Grammy absolutely melted your heart! The comedian and author got the good (and historic!) news via her earpiece during a live taping of “Kids Say The Darnedest Things”.

Haddish was visibly moved, and used the moment to bring the two future presidents she was interviewing into history with her, explaining that a Black woman hadn’t won in that category since Whoopi Goldberg in 1986. For those of us who are familiar with Black Mitzvah, we know the win is more than deserved – and to get a chance to share in Haddish’s joy and surprise was truly beautiful! Check it out here:

7.

Girls rock! (literally)

In the report ‘Inclusion in the Recording Studio’ published in 2020 by USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, 800 popular songs from 2012-2019 was examined, and the numbers showed that the genre Alternative holds the largest gender gap, as only 11% of the artists were women.

But this year, the Grammy nominations paints a somewhat different picture – at least in the category ‘Best Rock Performance’ as the nominees were all female artists or female-fronted groups: Big Thief, Fiona Apple, Grace Potter, Phoebe Bridgers, Brittany Howard and Haim.

Both Phoebe Bridgers, Big Thief, Fiona Apple and Brittany Howard were also nominated for ‘Best Rock Song’ (which Brittany Howard won) while Fiona Apple, Phoebe Bridgers and Brittany Howard also made their way to the category ‘Best Alternative Music Album’ in which Fiona Apple took the prize.

Brittany Howard’s amazing performance from the Grammys

…And with all that being said:

Representation matters – and there’s still a long way to go

While all the above points give hope for the Grammy’s when looking at the representation of all the female artists who work hard (to say the least) to get the same acknowledgement as their male counterparts, this year’s Grammy was still hopelessly white. History felt sort of repeated when Billie Eilish looked at Megan Thee Stallion from the stage and said that it was her award to win (for Record of The Year), just like Adele proclaimed from stage how Beyoncé deserved Album Of The Year back in 2017.

When Taylor Swift won Album Of The Year this Sunday, it added another year to the statistic of African-American wins in this category, which doesn’t look good with Herbie Hancock being the last African-American artist to win – 13 (!!!) years ago.

Billie Eilish dedicates her ‘Record Of The Year’ award to Megan Thee Stallion

Congratulations to all the awesome girls and women who won a Grammy this year:

  • Record Of The Year – Billie Eilish – Everything I Wanted
  • Album Of The Year – Taylor Swift – Folklore
  • Song Of The Year – H.E.R – “I Can’t Breathe” (also written by Dernst Emile II & Tiara Thomas)
  • Best New Artist – Megan Thee Stallion
  • Best Pop Duo/Group Performance – Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande – Rain On Me
  • Best Pop Vocal Album – Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia
  • Best Dance Recording – Kaytranada feat. Kali Uchis – 10%
  • Best Rock Performance – Fiona Apple – Shameika
  • 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 Traditional R&B Performance – Ledisi – Anything For You
  • Best R&B Song – Robert Glasper, Meshell Ndegeocello & Gabriella Wilson (H.E.R.) – Better Than I Imagined
  • Best Rap Performance – Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyoncé – Savage
  • Best Rap Song – Beyoncé, Shawn Carter, Brittany Hazzard, Derrick Milano, Terius Nash, Megan Pete, Bobby Session Jr., Jorden Kyle Lanier Thorpe & Anthony White – Savage
  • Best Country Song – The Highwomen – Crowded Table
  • Best Country Album – Miranda Lambert – Wildcard
  • Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album – Maria Schneider Orchestra – Data Lords
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song – Zach Williams & Dolly Parton – There Was Jesus
  • Best Roots Gospel Album – Fisk Jubillee Singers – Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary Album)
  • Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) – Natalia Lafourcade – Un Canto por México, Vol. 1
  • Best Americana Album – Sarah Jarosz – World On The Ground
  • Best Folk Album – Gillian Welch & David Rawlings – All The Good Times
  • Best Children’s Music Album – Joanie Leeds – All The Ladies
  • Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling) – Rachel Maddow – Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, And the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth
  • Best Comedy Album – Tiffany Haddish – Black Mitzvah
  • Best Musical Theater Album – Kathryn Gallagher, Celia Rose Gooding, Lauren Patten, Elizabeth Stanley, Neal Avron, Pete Ganbarg, Tom Kitt, Michael Parker, Craig Rosen & Vivek J. Tiwary, Glen Ballard, Alanis Morisette (Original Broadway Cast) – Jagged Little Pill
  • Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media – Hildur Guðnadóttir – Joker
  • Best Song Written For Visual Media – Billie Eilish O’Connell & Finneas Baird O’Connel – No Time To Die
  • Best Instrumental Composition – Maria Schneider – Sputnik
  • Best Opera Recording – David Robertson, Frederick Ballentine, Angel Blue, Denyce Graves, Latonia Moore, Eric OWens, David Frost (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) – Gershwin: Porgy And Bess
  • Best Classical Solo Vocal Album – Sarah Brailey, Dashon Burton, James Blachly – Smyth: The Prison
  • Best Classical Compendium – Isabel Leonard, Michael Tilson Thomas, Jack Vad – Thomas, M.T.: From the Diary of Anne Frank & Meditations on Rilke
  • Best Music Video – Beyoncé, Blue Ivy & WizKid, Jenn Nkiru, Astrid Edwards, Aya Kaida, Jean Moungin, Nathan Scherrer, Erinn Williams – Brown Skin Girl
  • Best Music Film – Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice – Linda Ronstadt, Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, Michele Farinola, James Keach
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