Still managing to cause all sorts of conversation without even performing at the 63rd annual ceremony Sunday night, the music superstar led the pack heading into the evening with nine nods, extending her reign as the most nominated female artist of all time.
Despite not releasing a new album over the past year, Beyoncé dominated across various categories thanks to her single “Black Parade,” which was up for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song. “Savage,” her chart-topping collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion, was nominated for Record of the Year, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, which also added to her tally. She scored her final two nods for her Disney+ film “Black is King,” which was nominated for Best Music Film and Best Music Video (“Brown Skin Girl”).
After picking up early awards during the pre-broadcast ceremony for Best Music Video (which made her 9-year-old daughter Blue Ivy the second youngest person to ever win a Grammy), Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, Beyoncé officially tied country singer Alison Krauss’ record for the female artist with the most wins in Grammy history.
But before long she also triumphed in the Best R&B Performance category, officially breaking that record with 28 wins. Accepting the award in person at the semi-virtual ceremony, Beyoncé, stunning in a black leather minidress, delivered an emotional speech about the legacy she hopes to leave behind.
“I wanted to uplift, encourage, and celebrate all of the beautiful Black queens and kings that continue to inspire me and inspire the whole world,” she said. “This is so overwhelming. I’ve been working my whole life since 9 years old. I can’t believe this happened. This is such a magical night. Thank you so much.”
Beyoncé went onto shout out her children, with a special mention to her daughter Blue Ivy for becoming a newly minted Grammy winner, adding that she’s “so honored to be all of your mommies.”
“I love you so much, my rock,” she said, turning to her husband Jay-Z in the crowd. “Enjoy your night.”
Ahead of the ceremony, Recording Academy CEO and president Harvey Mason Jr. indicated that Beyoncé declined an invitation to appear during the broadcast.
“It’s unfortunate, because she’s such a big part of the Recording Academy,” he said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. “We absolutely wish we had her onstage.”
Executive producer Ben Winston added that her absence might feel “strange” to viewers at home, given her omnipresence at the ceremony.
But the relationship between Beyoncé and the Recording Academy is a rather complex one, as the Grammys have rarely awarded Black artists with honors in the coveted general field categories. Over her decades-long career, the singer has only won a single award in the top “Big Four” races, winning Song of The Year 11 years ago for co-writing “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” The rest of her more than 20 wins have been primarily in the rap and R&B categories.
While Beyoncé has always graciously accepted her wins and losses over the years, artists like The Weeknd, who has pledged to boycott all future ceremonies, as well as Zayn Malik, Halsey, Justin Bieber and her own husband Jay-Z, have previously slammed the Grammys for their lack of transparency.
After her universally acclaimed album “Lemonade” failed to win any of the Grammy’s most prestigious prizes at the 2017 ceremony, Beyoncé said she was looking for “deeper meaning” than just accolades.
“Success looks different to me now. I learned that all pain and loss is in fact a gift,” she told Elle in 2019. “Having miscarriages taught me that I had to mother myself before I could be a mother to someone else. Then I had Blue, and the quest for my purpose became so much deeper. I died and was reborn in my relationship, and the quest for self became even stronger. It’s difficult for me to go backwards. Being ‘number one’ was no longer my priority. My true win is creating art and a legacy that will live far beyond me. That’s fulfilling.”