Georgia artists don’t reap Grammy Awards in early ceremony, but Megan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish victorious

In this screengrab released on March 14, Finneas O'Connell (left) and Billie Eilish accept the Best Song Written for Visual Media award for ‘No Time to Die’ at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; used with permission of The Recording Academy)
In this screengrab released on March 14, Finneas O'Connell (left) and Billie Eilish accept the Best Song Written for Visual Media award for ‘No Time to Die’ at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; used with permission of The Recording Academy)

Credit: Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Credit: Getty Images for The Recording Academy

A handful of presenters live from the Los Angeles Convention Center. A few pre-taped performances from genre-spanning artists including Rufus Wainwright, Lido Pimienta and Jimmy “Duck” Holmes. An assembly of winners beaming online with brief acceptance speeches and backgrounds ranging from tasteful studios to group gatherings outdoors. Several of those victors hopping into a Zoom room to answer reporters’ questions.

That was the backdrop for the Premiere Ceremony for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards, a two-hour-plus ceremony Sunday afternoon that was significantly shorter than usual with winners accepting virtually.

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Hosted by Jhene Aiko with others, including Chika, a sardonic Bill Burr and the rapidly shrinking Jimmy Jam, joining the live presentation, the pre-telecast is notable as the event when the Recording Academy doles out 72 of their 84 awards.

While none of Georgia’s numerous nominees triumphed — even a best rap performance category that featured Big Sean, Jack Harlow and Lil Baby instead crowned Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” — there were still opportunities for locals to win in categories scheduled for Sunday night’s telecast, including record and song of the year.

In this screengrab released on March 14, Megan Thee Stallion accepts the Best Rap Performance award for ‘Savage’ (with Beyoncé) at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; used with permission of The Recording Academy)
In this screengrab released on March 14, Megan Thee Stallion accepts the Best Rap Performance award for ‘Savage’ (with Beyoncé) at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; used with permission of The Recording Academy)

Credit: Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Credit: Getty Images for The Recording Academy

A gleeful Megan Thee Stallion accepted her first-ever Grammy from backstage at the convention center, where she was readying to perform during the evening ceremony in a flower-filled room. After much joyful screaming, she thanked, among others, her grandmother, “for making me stop music to finish school.”

Another inaugural Grammy champ was The Strokes, who won best rock album for “The New Abnormal.”

“I feel like we coulda won based on the name alone,” joked singer Julian Casablancas as he clutched a pool stick. His bandmates crowded around him to join in the revelry as a pool table loomed in the background of a dimly lit room.

This year’s leading nominee, Beyonce, added two more Grammys to her career haul for a total of 26 (best rap performance for “Savage” with Megan Thee Stallion and best music video for “Brown Skin Girl” with daughter Blue Ivy). Nominated for nine awards, Queen Bey lost best R&B song (to Robert Glasper’s “Better Than I Imagined” with H.E.R.) but had the potential to win five more (she’s nominated for two songs — “Black Parade” and “Savage” — in record of the year).

Billie Eilish, who swept the major categories at the 2020 Grammys, added a sixth to her young resume with a win for her James Bond theme, “No Time to Die” (best song written for visual media).

Accepting onscreen with producer brother Finneas, Eilish, her green-streaked hair topped with a ’70s-era scarf, said it was “a dream” to make the song.

Finneas chimed in, “I’m lucky to be your brother.”

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While the virtual reality of the ceremony eliminated some of the usual emotion, it was touching to see the widows of two prominent musicians — John Prine and Chick Corea — accepting awards for their late musician husbands.

Prine succumbed to COVID-19 in April and his wife, Fiona Whelan, said in a Zoom call with the press that she would celebrate his wins for best American roots performance and best American roots song (“I Remember Everything”) with “a little social bubble of two Irish women” and watch the Sunday night broadcast with them. “I feel John’s presence today very strongly,” she said.

In this screengrab released on March 14, Gayle Moran accepts the Best Improvised Jazz Solo award for ‘All Blues’ on behalf of the winner, the late Chick Corea, at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; used with permission of The Recording Academy)
In this screengrab released on March 14, Gayle Moran accepts the Best Improvised Jazz Solo award for ‘All Blues’ on behalf of the winner, the late Chick Corea, at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; used with permission of The Recording Academy)

Credit: Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Credit: Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Corea’s wife, Gayle Moran, choked up slightly as she referred to the jazz keyboardist as “my soul mate, best friend, hero” and said he “breathed the joy of creating each day … Sweetheart, you know you’re going to keep music going forever in our hearts.”

Corea died in February and won two Grammys for best improvised jazz solo (“All Blues”) and best jazz instrumental album (“Trilogy,” with Christian McBride and Brian Blade).

The last time Fiona Apple’s name was attached to a Grammy was 1997, for her breakthrough “Criminal.” But while she was snubbed in major categories for her critically appreciated “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” the album snagged best alternative music album, outpacing Beck (whose “Hyperspace” earned best engineered non-classical album), Phoebe Bridgers, Brittany Howard (a winner for best rock song for “Stay High”) and Tame Impala. Apple also landed a victory for best rock performance (“Shameika”).

And although Kanye West hasn’t collected a Grammy in nearly a decade, the mercurial hip-hop star netted the 22nd of his career in an unlikely category: best contemporary Christian music album for “Jesus is King.”

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