Grammy Awards 2021: Nashville's women are making history
Nashville isn’t making much of a splash when it comes to the top prizes at next year’s Grammy Awards. What it is making, however, is history.
On Tuesday, the Recording Academy unveiled the nominees for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards, and for the first time in the show’s history, all five nominees for Best Country Album were made by women. Ingrid Andress, Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde and co-ed vocal group Little Big Town will vie for the prize at next year’s ceremony, set for Jan. 31, 2021.
"What people think are good and Grammy-worthy, and what's at the top of the charts, they don't always mirror one another," said McBryde. "I think it's really interesting. And it's not like they were doing a female Grammy year, or whatever...this is how it wound up. I'm super excited about it. Of course, I'm excited to be nominated, but these are bad-ass records, and I love them. "
Aside from the globe-trotting Taylor Swift – whose acclaimed “Folklore” makes her a top nominee after being snubbed for years – Andress is also the only country/Nashville-based act up for one of the Grammy’s four big all-genre awards.
The 29-year-old singer-songwriter is nominated for Best New Artist, following the release of her 2020 album “Lady Like” and its breakout hit “More Hearts Than Mine.”
On Tuesday, Andress said she was feeling "a crazy range of emotions" — from her excitement over being nominated alongside breakout rap star Megan Thee Stallion, to validation for pursuing a career as an artist after working behind the scenes for years.
"Lady Like" was released at the end of March, just as the coronavirus put a halt to her touring and promotional plans.
"I hope this is a sneak peek as to what next year will be," she said with a laugh. "Because I don't know if I could do another 2020."
Grammy Awards 2021: Miranda Lambert, Ingrid Andress lead country nominations
With no country music in the running, the Grammy’s all-genre categories are thoroughly dominated by pop, rap and R&B music – almost all of it made by artists under 40. Beyoncé leads the pack with nine nominations, followed by Swift, dance-pop star Dua Lipa and rapper Roddy Ricch, each with six.
While she isn’t nominated in those categories, Nashville’s Brittany Howard is right behind those superstars. The Alabama Shakes frontwoman earned five nods in response to her inventive and deeply personal solo debut, “Jaime.” It’s also a testament to her range, as she's nominated across the Rock, Alternative, R&B and American Roots Music fields.
More history is being made by Mickey Guyton, as the first Black woman to ever be nominated for Best Country Solo Performance (as well as the former female-only category) for her song “Black Like Me.”
Grammy Awards: John Prine earns two posthumous nominations
Songs written by and for female artists also dominate the Best Country Song category:
Lambert's “Bluebird," Maren Morris' "The Bones," The Highwomen's "Crowded Table" and Andress' "More Hearts Than Mine," alongside the Old Dominion hit "Some People Do."
Roots and gospel nominees
Beyond country, Nashville’s musical community makes its presence known (as always) in the American Roots and Gospel fields.
Songwriting legend John Prine earned two posthumous nominations for the last recording he made: “I Remember Everything.” Prine died in April due to COVID-19 complications, just three months after he received a Lifetime Achievement honor in person from the Recording Academy.
“Everything” received nominations in Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song, A two-time Grammy Award winner and 13-time nominee, the Recording Academy paid tribute to Prine in 2020 with a Lifetime Achievement honor.
Notable singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, folk supergroup Bonny Light Horseman and Alabama duo The Secret Sisters join Prine in earning two nominations under the American Roots Music umbrella.
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’ covers album “All The Good Times” earned the Nashville musicians a nomination for Best Folk Album.
We The Kingdom is one of the top nominees in Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music fields. The Nashville family band is up for two awards (including Best Contemporary Christian Music Album) alongside Tauren Wells and Ricky Dillard.
Nashville’s original musical institution, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, received a nomination just in time for the group’s 150th anniversary in 2021. Their “Celebrating Fisk!” is up for Best Roots Gospel Album. Other big names in the field include Dolly Parton, recognized for her duet with Zach Williams, “There Was Jesus.”
Other Nashville nods
• Sturgill Simpson, who’s previously been nominated in Americana, country and all-genre categories (including his Best Country Album win in 2017), earns a nod this year in a new field: Best Rock Album, for his 2019 fuzz-rock ripper “Sound & Fury.”
• Nashville producers Dan Auerbach and Dave Cobb earned Producer of the Year nominations. Auerbach produced Marcus King’s 2021 nominated album “El Dorado,” among others. Cobb produced nominated projects including “I Remember Everything'' and the debut album by country supergroup The Highwomen.
• Nashville musician, songwriter and producer Daniel Tashian is nominated alongside the legendary Burt Bacharach for their collaboration, "Blue Umbrella," up for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
• Acclaimed instrumentalist Béla Fleck earned his 34th career nomination this year. His "Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions" — stemming from a 2008 journey to the continent — is up for Best Historical Album.
• A silver lining to a difficult year for the Nashville Symphony: their recording of Christopher Rouse's "Symphony No. 5" is nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.