It recognized the best recordings, compositions, and artists of the eligibility year, running from September 1, 2019, to August 31, 2020.
The nominations were revealed via a virtual livestream on November 24, 2020.
Performers for the ceremony were announced on March 7, 2021.
South African comedian Trevor Noah hosted the ceremony.
The nominations were announced during a virtual livestream on November 24, 2020, by Chair, and Interim Recording Academy President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr., alongside Megan Thee Stallion, Dua Lipa, Mickey Guyton, Lauren Daigle, Pepe Aguilar, Nicola Benedetti, Gayle King, Yemi Alade, Imogen Heap and Sharon Osbourne.
For the 2021 ceremony, the academy announced several changes for different categories and rules:
- The category Best Urban Contemporary Album has been renamed Best Progressive R&B Album.
- The category Best Rap/Sung Performance has been renamed Best Melodic Rap Performance.
- Category Best Latin Pop Album has been renamed Best Latin Pop or Urban Album, and the category Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album has been renamed Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album.
- The category Best World Music Album has been renamed Best Global Music Album.
- The maximum number of releases has been removed from the category Best New Artist.
The category Best Musical Theater Album can now only award up to four principal vocalists (previously unlimited) in addition to the album producer and the lyricists/composers (if the album contains at least 51% new material). In the case of an ensemble-driven piece, all vocalists will receive a winner’s certificate
Venue and production
The show was three and a half hours long.
The Recording Academy appointed Ben Winston as the executive producer of the show, his first time working on a Grammy show.
Winston, via Rolling Stone, stated that the show would feature multiple stages, but no audience, highlighting the “creative triumphs, social justice movements, as well as COVID-19‘s impact on the arts”.
Regarding the venue shift, Winston stated that he does believe Staples is a safe place, but he wanted
“to go above and beyond to make even the most-skeptical participants feel undoubtedly safe”.
The production was overseen by COVID-19 safety officers.
To minimize physical contact, artists had their own backstage area, and entered the stages from different directions.
The show involved five equally sized stages arranged in a circle facing inwards; one of the stages was for presenters and the other four for performers. \
Crew members worked from the center of the circular set. As soon as one performance ended, the next stage became active, and so on.
The show was a mix of live and pre-recorded performances, as “a fully live show would involve too many crew members moving sets and risking close contact”. However, the whole show was planned to feel entirely live.
To help plan the sprawling production and immersive spectacle of the show, Winston collaborated with a multitude of producers, such as co-executive producer Jesse Collins, who produced The Weeknd’s Super Bowl halftime show; co-executive producer Raj Kapoor, who handled creative direction for many artists on the last seven Grammy shows and produced Las Vegas concert residencies for Backstreet Boys and Mariah Carey; producer Fatima Robinson, worked on the Black Eyed Peas’ 2011 halftime show; producer Misty Buckley, who produced Kacey Musgraves’ 2020 Christmas show; talent executive Patrick Menton from Dick Clark Productions; James Corden collaborator Josie Cliff; and Hamish Hamilton, who directed Super Bowl halftimes, Olympic ceremonies, Academy Award, and Emmy Award shows.
BELOW ARE THE GOSPEL/CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC AWARDEES
Best Gospel Performance/Song
This award is given to the artist(s) and songwriter(s) (for new compositions) for the best traditional Christian, roots gospel or contemporary gospel single or track.
- WONDERFUL IS YOUR NAME
Melvin Crispell III
- RELEASE (LIVE)
Ricky Dillard Featuring Tiff Joy; David Frazier, songwriter
- COME TOGETHER
Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins Present: The Good News; Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins & Jazz Nixon, producers; Lashawn Daniels, Rodney Jerkins, Lecrae Moore & Jazz Nixon, songwriters
- WON’T LET GO
Travis Greene; Travis Greene, songwriter
- MOVIN’ ON – WINNER
Jonathan McReynolds & Mali Music; Darryl L. Howell, Jonathan Caleb McReynolds, Kortney Jamaal Pollard & Terrell Demetrius Wilson, songwriters
Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song
This award is given to the artist(s) and songwriter(s) (for new compositions) for the best contemporary Christian music single or track, (including pop, rap/hip-hop, Latin, or rock.
- THE BLESSING (LIVE)
Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes & Elevation Worship; Chris Brown, Cody Carnes, Kari Jobe Carnes & Steven Furtick, songwriters
- SUNDAY MORNING
Lecrae Featuring Kirk Franklin; Denisia Andrews, Jones Terrence Antonio, Saint Bodhi, Rafael X. Brown, Brittany Coney, Kirk Franklin, Lasanna Harris, Shama Joseph, Stuart Lowery, Lecrae Moore & Nathanael Saint-Fleur, Songwriters
- HOLY WATER
We The Kingdom; Andrew Bergthold, Ed Cash, Franni Cash, Martin Cash & Scott Cash, songwriters
- FAMOUS FOR (I BELIEVE)
Tauren Wells Featuring Jenn Johnson; Chuck Butler, Krissy Nordhoff, Jordan Sapp, Alexis Slifer & Tauren Wells, songwriters
- THERE WAS JESUS – WINNER
Zach Williams & Dolly Parton; Casey Beathard, Jonathan Smith & Zach Williams, songwriters
Best Gospel Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of newly recorded, vocal, traditional or contemporary/R&B gospel music recordings.
- 2ECOND WIND: READY
Anthony Brown & group therAPy
- MY TRIBUTE
- GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PJ – WINNER
Best Contemporary Christian Music Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of newly recorded, vocal, contemporary Christian music, including pop, rap/hip hop, Latin, or rock recordings.
- RUN TO THE FATHER
- ALL OF MY BEST FRIENDS
Hillsong Young & Free
- HOLY WATER
We The Kingdom
- CITIZEN OF HEAVEN
- JESUS IS KING – WINNER
Best Roots Gospel Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of newly recorded, vocal, traditional/roots gospel music, including country, Southern gospel, bluegrass, and Americana recordings.
- BEAUTIFUL DAY
The Crabb Family
- WHAT CHRISTMAS REALLY MEANS
- CELEBRATING FISK! (THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY ALBUM) – WINNER
Fisk Jubilee Singers
- SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL
Ernie Haase & Signature Sound