As usual, the 2021 Grammy Awards took place in two parts. The vast majority of the 84 categories up for grabs were presented during the Premiere Ceremony on Sunday afternoon, March 14, starting at noon Pacific/3:00pm Eastern and streamed live on Grammy.com. The top categories will then be handed out during the primetime broadcast. So who won during the midday show, did anyone make history, and what does it mean for the awards later to come. Scroll down for our live analysis, updated throughout the day as winners are announced.
The Premiere Ceremony was hosted by Jhene Aiko, herself a three-time Grammy nominee this year: Album of the Year and Best Progressive R&B Album for “Chilombo,” and Best R&B Performance for “Lightning and Thunder” featuring John Legend. The musical performers at this event included Burna Boy, Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Igor Levit, Lido Pimienta, Poppy and Rufus Wainwright.
The Grammys revealed the lineup of categories for the Premiere Ceremony, and they included awards contested by some of music’s biggest stars, with Beyonce, BTS, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Fiona Apple, Megan Thee Stallion, John Legend, Miranda Lambert, and many more potentially taking home prizes, and others like John Williams and the late Chick Corea possibly climbing further up the list of the winningest artists of all time. That leaves less than a dozen categories for the primetime show: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Country Album, Best Melodic Rap Performance, Best Rap Song, and Best Latin Pop or Urban Album.
What did you think of the Premiere Ceremony, and who do you think will be winning the rest of the awards this evening? Follow along with us below (times listed are Eastern).
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3:07pm — The show is underway, beginning with a tribute to Marvin Gaye performed by Grammy nominees ranging from Alexandre Desplat to Camilo to Ledisi. However the rest of this virtual show goes, it’s off to a really strong start. Winners will only have 30 seconds for their speeches, though.
3:09pm — Best Dance Recording goes to Kaytranada and Kali Uchis for “10%,” and Kaytranada also wins Best Dance/Electronic Album for “Bubba.” Kaytranada is also nominated for Best New Artist tonight, so it’s certainly a good start for him. Perhaps he’ll surprise by going three-for-three, though he’s probably still an underdog in that race.
3:11pm — Snarky Puppy wins Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for “Live At The Royal Albert Hall.” He has actually won four times out of his four career nominations, so he still has never lost. Maria Schneider won Best Instrumental Composition for “Sputnik” over Alexandre Desplat. John Beasley then won Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for “Donna Lee” over Hildur Guðnadóttir.
3:15pm — Not too surprising: Jacob Collier wins Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for “He Won’t Hold You.” He’s never actually lost a Grammy for Best Arrangement. He has prevailed five times in his career so far. Actually, he has only ever been nominated for arrangements, and he’s undefeated. We’ll see how he does when he competes for Best R&B Performance later in the Premiere Ceremony and Album of the Year at the prime-time telecast.
3:17pm — Beyonce on the board as well! She wins Best Music Video for “Brown Skin Girl” (along with her daughter Blue Ivy Carter). However, her “Black is King” surprisingly lost Best Music Film to Linda Ronstadt for “The Sound of My Voice.” Though maybe it’s not that surprising since Beyonce also surprisingly lost that award for “Lemonade,” which seemed like it was custom-made to win that Grammy. Nevertheless, Beyonce is up to 25 career awards so far with more categories yet to come.
3:24pm — The next section of awards starts with Best New Age Album for “More Guitar Stories” for Jim “Kimo” West, who unfortunately was on mute — only took 25 minutes before a winner who forgot to turn their mic on. It’s his first Grammy. Then Jonathan McReynolds and Mali Music (“Movin’ On”) claimed Best Gospel Performance/Song. Best Contemporary Christian Performance/Song goes to Dolly Parton for “There Was Jesus.” Parton has now 10 Grammys in her career.
3:29pm — Best Gospel Album goes to PJ Morton for “Gospel According to PJ,” his first victory in this category after two previous wins for R&B. And look at that, Kanye West won Best Contemporary Christian Album for “Jesus is King,” the 22nd win on his career. Not sure yet if he’ll urinate on this one.
3:32pm — Wilco wins Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package for “Ode to Joy.” This is only the third career win for frontman Jeff Tweedy. And Best Historical Album goes to “It’s Such a Good Feeling: The Best of Mr. Rogers”
3:35pm — Beck‘s “Hyperspace” is awarded the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. It’s the eighth Grammy of Beck’s career. This category is often a good sign for artists in other categories, and “Hyperspace” is also up for Best Alternative Album. Meanwhile, Saint Jhn‘s “Roses” won Best Remixed Recording for its “Imanbek Remix.” and the Producer of the Year, Classical is David Frost, who is now up to 18 career Grammys since he also just won Best Engineered Album, Classical for “Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13, ‘Babi Yar.'” Not quite Beyonce, but not bad.
3:46pm — “I bought a suit for this, I thought I was going to be on TV!” says the next presenter Bill Burr. He starts by giving Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album to Fito Paez for “La Conquista Del Espacio” his first win on his second nomination. His only other nomination was way back in 2001 for “Abre.” Best Regional Mexican Album then goes to Natalia LaFourcade for “Un Canto Por Mexico, Vol. 1,” which won Album of the Year at the Latin Grammys just a few months ago. And Grupo Niche won Best Tropical Latin Album for “40”; this is their first Grammy win too.
3:50pm — Gustavo Dudamel wins his third Grammy on his third nomination: Best Orchestral Performance for “Ives: Complete Symphonies.” Best Opera Recording goes to “Porgy and Bess,” which brings David Frost his 19th Grammy and makes him today’s biggest winner so far. Best Classical Solo Vocal Album goes to Sarah Brailey and Dashon Burton for “Smyth: The Prison,” which is Brailey’s first nomination and win. Best Contemporary Classical Composition awarded to “Rouse: Symphony No. 5,” as posthumous victory for Christopher Rouse.
3:59pm — Moving on to a trio of visual media awards. Best Compilation Soundtrack goes to Oscar winner Taika Waititi for “Jojo Rabbit.” “I guess they’re giving Grammys to anyone now,” he says, beaming into the show from a film set. Best Score Soundtrack goes to Hildur Guðnadóttir (“Joker”), which is her second victory in a row after winning last year for “Chernobyl”; she’s the first to win the award consecutively since Howard Shore’s three-peat for the “Lord of the Rings” films from 2003 to 2005. And Best Visual Media Song went to “No Time to Die” by Billie Eilish and Finneas. The film has been delayed for so long that she prevails several months before the film’s actual release. Eilish and Finneas are now six-time Grammy winners after their five victories last year.
4:06pm — Getting into some American roots categories, presented by Chika. The first is another posthumous victory: “I Remember Everything” by John Prine, who died of COVID-19 in 2020. He won Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song for his last recording. He won two previous competitive Grammys, which makes these his third and fourth victories. Best Americana Album goes to Sarah Jarosz for “World on the Ground.” The Grammys love Jarosz in her genre field; she has now won four times in her career. Billy Strings takes Best Bluegrass Album for “Home,” whole Best Traditional Blues Album goes to Bobby Rush for “Rawer Than Raw.” The Best Folk Album winners were Gillian Welch and David Rawlings for “All the Good Times.” Perhaps surprisingly, this is only Welch’s second Grammy. The legendary performer’s only previous victory was Album of the Year for appearing on the “O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
4:17pm — African artist Burna Boy wins Best Global Music Album for the now aptly-titled “Twice as Tall.” This is the first Grammy and second nomination of his career.
4:20pm — Best Spoken Word Album goes to Rachel Maddow, who upsets Meryl Streep (“Charlotte’s Web”) and Ken Jennings (“Alex Trebek: The Answer Is”). It’s the first victory for Maddow in the category. Best Comedy Album awarded to Tiffany Haddish for “Black Mitzvah,” a very rare victory for a female comedian. Best Musical Theater Album goes to “Jagged Little Pill,” the musical based on the Alanis Morrissette album that won Album of the Year exactly 25 years ago.
4:23pm — Fiona Apple wins Best Alternative Album for “Fetch the Bolt Cutters.” It’s her first album win at the Grammys and her first win since “Criminal” more than 20 years ago. She’s only the third female solo artist to win that award.
4:29pm — Best Improvised Jazz Solo is another posthumous award. It goes to Chick Corea for “All Blues.” The legendary musician died just a month ago, and he has now won 24 times in his career. Corea shortly thereafter won his 25th award, Best Jazz Instrumental Album for “Trilogy 2.” What’s especially impressive is that voting was already closed by the time Corea passed away, so the recording academy never meant these to be posthumous.
4:39pm — Ledisi wins Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Anything For You.” And this was a long time coming. This was her 13th nominations going back to 2008, but she had never won until now. Best R&B Song was awarded to “Better Than I Imagine” by Robert Glasper, H.E.R. and Meshell Ndegeocello, upsetting “Black Parade” by Beyonce. So it looks like it won’t be a sweep by any means for Queen Bey. In yet another huge sweep, Album of the Year nominee Jhene Aiko (“Chilombo”) lost Best Progressive R&B Album to Thundercat for the aptly titled “It Is What It Is.” But John Legend did won Best R&B Album as expected for “Bigger Love”; it’s his 12th career Grammy.
4:50pm — “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. This was Grande’s second career win and her only nomination this year. Lady Gaga has now won an even dozen Grammys. That hands Taylor Swift her first loss of the night, as she had been nominated for “Exile” with Bon Iver. Meanwhile, Megan Thee Stallion wins the first Grammy of her career, Best Rap Performance for “Savage” with Beyonce, now a 26-time Grammy winner; they’re the first women to win that gender-combined category, and Beyonce is now one away from tying the record for women held by Alison Krauss. The long-overdue rapper Nas wins Best Rap Album for “King’s Disease”; this was his first victory after 14 nominations.
4:57pm — Best Rock Performance goes to Fiona Apple for “Shameika” to match her victory for Best Alternative Album. This is the first time she has ever won more than one award in a single night. Best Metal Performance goes to Body Count for “Bum-Rush.” Body Count includes rapper-actor Ice-T, who wins the second Grammy of his career exactly 30 years after his sole rap victory for “Back on the Block” in 1991. Best Rock Song went to Brittany Howard for “Stay High,” keeping Fiona Apple from a clean sweep of her categories. Howard has now won five times in her career. This is her first victory as a solo artist as she previously won as the front-woman for Alabama Shakes. Rounding out the rock winners were The Strokes, winning their first ever award for Best Rock Album for “The New Abnormal.”
5:04pm — Best Country Solo Performance goes to Vince Gill, one of the biggest Grammy winners of all time. He won for “When My Amy Prays” in an upset against front-runner Miranda Lambert (“Bluebird”). As expected, Best Country Duo/Group Performance goes to the crossover hit “10,000 Hours” by Dan and Shay and Justin Bieber. Surprisingly, Bieber has now won Grammys for country and dance, but not yet in any pop categories. Best Country Song goes to “Crowded Table” by The Highwomen, which was co-written by Brandi Carlile, who has now won six Grammys in the last three years.
5:09pm — The last award of the afternoon is Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, which goes to Andrew Watt. This was his first ever nomination and win. His work over the last year includes music by Post Malone and Dua Lipa, so could this be a good sign for those artists in top categories like Album of the Year, where they’re both nominated? Taylor Swift and her collaborator Jack Antonoff both lost at the Premiere Ceremony, so maybe she’s not unbeatable for Album of the Year like we might’ve thought.