Kacey Musgraves was the golden girl at Sunday evening’s (Feb. 10) Grammy honors, picking up four of the coveted golden grammophones.
Most importantly, the UMG Nashville artist’s Golden Hour album bested the seven other nominees in the coveted, all-genre Album of the Year.
Musgraves swept every category she was nominated in, which also included Best Country Album (for the same project), Best Country Song (“Space Cowboy”) and Best Country Solo Performance (“Butterflies”). The trophies join the artist’s two previous Grammy wins, for her album Same Trailer, Different Park and “Merry Go ‘Round.”
“I never dreamed this record would be met with such love, such warmth, such positivity,” said Musgraves just after winning Best Country Album for Golden Hour. She shared the stage with co-producers Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian. “I love country music with everything that I am and I’m very lucky to share my version of that with the world.”
Previous country albums to earn the overall Album of the Year honor have included Glen Campbell’s By The Time I Get To Phoenix (1969), Dixie Chicks’ Taking The Long Way (2007), and Taylor Swift’s Fearless (2010). Like Musgraves, the albums from Swift and the Dixie Chicks both earned Country Album of the Year and overall Album of the Year during their respective Grammy-winning ceremonies.
One year after Recording Academy president Neil Portnow advised female artists to “step up” if they wanted more industry recognition and award nominations, female artists proved they had been stepping up all along.
Musgraves’ win, along with wins for artists such as Dua Lipa (Best New Artist) and Cardi B (the first solo female to win Best Rap album), proved the pinnacle of an evening that saw numerous female artists, songwriters, producers and engineers celebrating triumphs.
Sunday evening, 31 women earned Grammy award wins, in a total of 38 categories. The number marks a wave of change from last year, when 17 of the evening’s 86 honors were awarded to female artists or female-led groups. Nashville artists, and artists who made their projects in Music City, were a big part of the evening–made even more impressive given the 21,000 music submissions that were considered for this year’s Grammy honors.
Musgraves performed early in the televised portion of the show, standing illuminated by a lone spotlight, backed by a stately piano and stage trimmed in rainbow lights as she offered a subtle, elegant rendition of Golden Hour’s uplifting “Rainbow.”
The evening featured a musical tribute to current MusiCares Person of the Year honoree Dolly Parton.
While the tribute had a slightly shaky start due to Katy Perry over-singing on a portion of Parton’s “Here You Come Again,” which was paired with Musgraves’ more subdued and accurate rendering, the tribute swiftly became glorious as Dolly appeared, with her soaring, airy soprano and charming persona.
And really, who better to pay musical tribute to Dolly Parton than Parton herself?
Parton was joined by her goddaughter Miley Cyrus for a sassy version of “Jolene,” before Maren Morris joined the two, creating a stunning rendition of “After The Gold Rush,” a track Parton first recorded with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris on the second Trio album. The comfortable, complementary harmonies from Parton, Cyrus and Morris made clear the 73-year-old Parton’s vocal influence is still going strong.
Little Big Town backed Parton with rich, nuanced harmonies on newer track “Red Shoes,” before they were joined by Perry, Cyrus, Musgraves and Morris for an all-sing on Parton’s classic “9 To 5.”
Brandi Carlile, whose critical favorite By The Way I Forgive You was recorded at Nashville’s RCA Studio A, earned three award wins before the telecast, sweeping the American Roots categories, including Best Americana Album, Best American Roots Performance (“The Joke”) and Best American Roots Song (“The Joke”).
Though Carlile was shut out of the all-genre categories for which she was nominated, she did offer a star-making, impassioned performance of “The Joke” during the telecast. She commanded the stage, wielding her guitar and leading her band with a casual confidence and blistering lead vocal. In a moment of transparent joy, Carlile concluded her performance by jumping up and down onstage as the crowd stood to its feet.
Prior to the telecast, Lauren Daigle earned two honors in the Contemporary Christian Music categories, earning Best Album for Look Up Child, and Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for “You Say.” Similarly, Tori Kelly earned Best Gospel Album for Hiding Place and Best Gospel Performance/Song for “Never Alone.”
Nashville’s female artists weren’t the only ones relishing a triumphant evening. Following earning their first Grammy win for Best Country Duo/group performance for “Tequila,” Dan + Shay offered a piano-and guitar-backed rendition of the hit during the telecast. The performance put Shay Mooney’s flawless vocals in the spotlight and undoubtedly introduced an even larger audience to the song that was already the most-streamed country song in 2018.
Numerous artists throughout the evening noted the power music has to strengthen souls in times of struggle, to comfort in times of doubt, and to provide a familiar place to revive the creative spirit in times of rejection.
Perhaps Diana Ross summed it best during her arresting performance of “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” as she advised the crowd, “Learn. Dream. Unlock new doors. Everything is possible with music.”
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