Rapper Megan Thee Stallion was named best new artist at the Grammy Awards on Sunday in a ceremony aimed at putting the coronavirus pandemic, which crushed live music, in the past.
The 26 year-old singer from Texas, known for promoting women’s empowerment and body positivity, also won for her rap performance of single “Savage”, featuring Beyoncé.
Megan thanked God for “putting life into my body, for even being here today … It’s been a hullava year, but we made it,” she said.
British pop star Harry Styles, wearing a feather boa over a bare chest, and teen phenomenon Billie Eilish sporting her trademark green hair, kicked off the socially-distanced ceremony, playing in a room empty apart from a handful of other musicians.
Hosted by Trevor Noah, the hybrid ceremony of pre-recorded and live performances took place both indoors and outdoors in Downtown Los Angeles, but without the usual mass audience.
“We’re hoping that this is all about what 2021 can be, full of joy, new beginnings and coming together. Never forgetting what happened in 2020, but full of hope for what is to come,” Noah said.
Earlier on Sunday, BTS lost in the best pop duo or group performance against Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande for their single “Rain on Me.”
The seven-member band from South Korea had been hoping to be the first K-Pop act to win a Grammy after a breakthrough year in the US for the genre.
The top three races — album, record, and song of the year — are expected to be announced towards the end of the three and 1/2 hour telecast.
British pop singer Dua Lipa (“Future Nostalgia”) and Taylor Swift (“Folklore”) are seen as the top contenders for album of the year.
Kanye West took the Grammy for his gospel album “Jesus is King,” while Beyoncé also won best music video for “Brown Skin Girl,” which she shared with her nine-year-old daughter Blue Ivy.
Eilish, who dominated last year’s Grammys, won for her theme song to the upcoming James Bond film “No Time to Die.” Eilish, 19, also has two other nods on Sunday for her ballad “Everything I Wanted.”
Beyoncé, the most nominated female artist in Grammy history with 79 career nods, went into Sunday’s ceremony with a leading nine nominations, mostly from music that celebrated Black culture in a year of racial turmoil in the US.
But she is not on the list of musicians booked for Sunday’s three-hour show, which will also feature Swift, Latin star Bad Bunny, Post Malone, Miranda Lambert and Black country singer Mickey Guyton.
The winners are chosen by some 11,000 voting members of the Recording Academy.