2021 Grammy nominations highlighted by all-female Best Rock Performance category

Brittany Howard performs during Austin City Limits Festival at Zilker Park on October 12, 2019 in Austin, Texas.
(Image credit: Erika Goldring/FilmMagic)

This year’s Grammy nominations have been announced, and serve as yet more proof that guitar is thriving, as some of today’s most exciting players feature across the awards’ many, many categories.

The headline-grabbing announcement is that, for the first time in history, the Best Rock Performance is made up of all-female nominees.

These include HAIM, Brittany Howard, Grace Potter, Phoebe Bridgers, Fiona Apple and Big Thief, who are fronted by the hugely prolific Adrianne Lenker.

Many of these nominees dominate the Best Rock Song category, too, with Bridgers, Lenker, Howard and Apple up for awards, as well as Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker.

Bridgers is also up for Album of the Year, alongside Coldplay, Haim, Post Malone and Taylor Swift, while Malone and Swift are also in the running for Song of the Year, as are Billie Eilish and H.E.R.

Best Metal Performance nominees include Body Count, Code Orange, In This Moment, Poppy and Power Trip, whose frontman Riley Gale died earlier this year.

Fender-championed Black Pumas, meanwhile, are up for two of the ceremony’s biggest awards, with Colors and Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition) nominated for Record and Album of the Year, respectively.

Best Rock Album nods go to Fontaines D.C., Michael Kiwanuka, Grace Potter, Sturgill Simpson and The Strokes, while Apple, Beck, Bridgers, Howard and Tame Impala are up for Best Alternative Music Album.

It’s great to see some serious guitar and bass talented being recognized outside of rock and metal, too: Brothers Osborne and Lady A are down for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, and Thundercat gets a nod for Best Progressive R&B Album.

John Prine is given a posthumous nomination for Best American Roots Performance – Black Pumas and Brittany Howard are also nominated in this category – while Hiss Golden Messenger and Marcus King are in the running for Best Americana Album. Billy Strings, meanwhile, could find himself winning Best Bluegrass Album.

Other guitar nominees include Fantastic Negrito (Best Contemporary Blues Album), Robert Cray (Best Traditional Blues Album), Cory Wong (Best New Age Album), Laura Marling (Best Folk Album) and Snarky Puppy's Mark Lettieri (Best Contemporary Instrumental Music), while Flea is nominated for Best Spoken Word Album, for his memoir, Acid for the Children.

Big-name guitarists are recognized in the Producer of the Year category, too, with Dan Auerbach and Andrew Watt in the running, the latter for his work on Ozzy Osbourne’s Ordinary Man.

And, to top it all off, the Gibson-partnered Bill & Ted Face the Music is nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media. Excellent!

To read the full, exhaustive list of nominees, head over to Grammy.com.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.