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The 2021 Grammy Awards: A Historic Night for Women in Music

From HAIM to Beyoncé, here are the moments that made the 2021 Grammy Awards a historic night for women in music. Plus a complete list of Grammys won by women.

March 15, 2021
Written by
Cynthia Schemmer

Last night, the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center. With no live audience, the evening was presented to a limited number of performers and nominees, which in no way hindered energy levels—instead, the 2021 Grammy’s offered an intimate and cathartic experience, with powerful performances and sweeping wins by women in music. 

Beyoncé made history with nine nominations and, after receiving the 28th Grammy win of her career, she is now the most decorated woman in Grammy history (and her daughter, 9-year-old Blue Ivy Carter, who won Best Music Video alongside her mother for Brown Skin Girl,” became the second youngest act to win a Grammy in the show’s 63-year history). Meanwhile, Taylor Swift won her third Album of the Year for folklore, and Megan Thee Stallion, who won three honors, also made history as the first woman rapper to win Best Rap Song for “Savage.”

The top four awards all went to women—Billish Eilish for Record of the Year (“everything i wanted”), Taylor Swift for Album of the Year (folklore), H.E.R. for Song of the Year (“I Can’t Breathe”), Megan Thee Stallion for Best New Artist—and although this is nothing new, it is the first time four separate and solo women musicians won the top honors. Out of the 83 Grammy categories, 37 wins were by women (full list below) and 14 went to women guitarists and/or bassists, including our Issue 20 cover artist H.E.R. who took home two awards for Song of the Year and Best R&B song for her feature alongside bassist Meshell Ndegeocello on Robert Glasper’s “Better Than I Imagined,” and our Issue 11 cover artist Brittany Howard won Best Rock Song for “Stay High.” 

“I feel like there’s been a lot of female empowerment and lots of women winning awards tonight,” Dua Lipa, who won Best Pop Vocal Album for Future Nostalgia, said backstage. “And so it’s been absolutely amazing to just be alongside all that, to feel that energy.”

For performances, Haim rocked out with “The Steps” from their 2020 album Women in Music PT. III, which was nominated for Album of the Year; Taylor Swift performed “cardigan,” “august,” and “willow” from 2021’s evermore and 2020’s folklore; Billie Eilish performed “everything i wanted”; Dua Lipa performed “Levitating” and “Don’t Start Now”; Brittany Howard performed “You’ll Never Walk Alonewith Coldplay’s Chris Martin during the In Memoriam segment; Mickey Guyton, who made history as the first Black woman nominated as a solo country artist, performed “Black Like Me”; Miranda Lambert performed “Bluebird” from Wildcard; Megan Thee Stallion performed “Body,” “Savage,” and with Cardi B, “WAP”; Doja Cat sang her two-time Grammy nominated “Say So”; Poppy performed “EAT”; and Lido Pimiento performed “Eso Que Tu Haces” from the Grammy-nominated Miss Colombia.

Full List of 2021 Grammy Awards Won by Women

Record of the Year: Everything I Wanted – Billie Eilish

Album of the Year: Folklore – Taylor Swift 

Song of the Year: “I Can’t Breathe” – H.E.R. 

Best New Artist: Megan Thee Stallion

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: “Rain On Me: – Lady Gaga with Ariana Grande

Best Pop Vocal Album: Future Nostalgia – Dua Lipa

Best Dance Recording: “10%” – Kaytranada Featuring Kali Uchis

Best Rock Performance: “Shameika” – Fiona Apple

Best Rock Song: “Stay High” – Brittany Howard 

Best Alternative Music Album: “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” – Fiona Apple 

Best R&B Performance: “Black Parade” – Beyoncé

Best Traditional R&B Performance:  “Anything for You” – Ledisi

Best R&B Song: “Better Than I Imagined” – Robert Glasper featuring H.E.R. & Meshell Ndegeocello 

Best Rap Performance: “Savage” – Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé

Best Rap Song: “Savage” Megan Thee Stallion Featuring Beyoncé

Best Country Song: “Crowded Table” – The Highwomen 

Best Country Album: Wildcard – Miranda Lambert 

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album: Data Lords – Maria Schneider Orchestra

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song: “There Was Jesus” – Zach Williams & Dolly Parton 

Best Roots Gospel Album: Celebrating Fisk! – Fisk Jubilee Singers

Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano): Un Canto por México, Vol. 1 – Natalia Lafourcade 

Best Americana Album: World on the Ground – Sarah Jarosz

Best Folk Album: All the Good Times – Gillian Welch & David Rawlings 

Best Children’s Album: All the Ladies – Joanie Leeds 

Best Spoken Word Album: Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth – Rachel Maddow

Best Comedy Album: Black Mitzvah – Tiffany Haddish

Best Musical Theater Album: Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media: Joker – Hildur Guðnadóttir

Best Song Written For Visual Media: “No Time to Die” – Billie Eilish

Best Instrumental Composition: “Sputnik” – Maria Schneider

Best Historical Album: It’s Such a Good Feeling: The Best of Mister Rogers – Lee Lodyga & Cheryl Pawelski

Best Choral Performance: “Danielpour: The Passion of Yeshuah” – JoAnn Falletta, conductor; James K. Bass & Adam Luebke, chorus masters

Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance: “Contemporary Voices” – Pacifica Quartet

Best Classical Solo Vocal Album: Smyth: The Prison – Sarah Brailey & Dashon Burton; James Blachly, conductor

Best Classical Compendium: Thomas, M.T.: From the Diary of Anne Frank and Meditations on Rilke – Isabel Leonard; Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor; Jack Vad, producer

Best Music Video: “Brown Skin Girl” – Beyoncé, Blue Ivy & WizKid

Best Music Film: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice – Linda Ronstadt

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