meta-script10 Must-See Moments From The 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show, From Anderson .Paak To BTS To Megan Thee Stallion | GRAMMY.com
BTS

BTS

Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

news

10 Must-See Moments From The 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show, From Anderson .Paak To BTS To Megan Thee Stallion

The 2021 GRAMMY Awards show may have been reimagined in comparison to past editions. But that simplicity added elegance and kept the music front and center, from BTS to Cardi B and beyond

GRAMMYs/Mar 15, 2021 - 11:50 pm

Music's Biggest Night more than lived up to that tagline last night at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards, broadcast from downtown Los Angeles. An elegantly scaled-back event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GRAMMYs still managed to seem as big and celebratory as they've ever been.

From Harry Styles’ delightful opening performance to Cardi B's and Megan Thee Stallion’s captivating combination to South Korea's always-engaging BTS, the GRAMMYs exemplified the special power of music. For a few lively hours, it transported viewers to another plane and provided a reprieve from the pandemic.

Trevor Noah Kept Things Jovial

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><iframe src='https://www.youtube.com/embed//-Clb8ldpqcE' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah was a charming GRAMMYs host. Noah balanced his terrific sense of humor with his deep love of music and appreciation of artistry, keeping the show's tone upbeat and fun after a tough year. Noah said the last year has felt like a decade due to the coronavirus in his opening monologue.Acknowledging our world gone Zoom, Noah joked that the Staples Center behind him was real—not a Zoom background. 

Noah ended his short but sweet opening monologue on a hopeful note. "We're hoping that this is all about what 2021 can be, you know," he said. "Full of joy, new beginnings and coming together, never forgetting what happened in 2020, but full of hope for what is to come. So, let's do this, people."

Three Sisters, One Classic Sound

Los Angeles natives HAIM performed their GRAMMY-nominated rock song "The Steps" from their GRAMMY-nominated record Women in Music, Pt. III. Billie Eilish, FINNEAS and Harry Styles looked on and grooved along with the high-energy, lovable sisters.

With Danielle on drums, Este on bass (on her birthday, to boot!), and Alana on guitar, the sisters were effortlessly rock-cool, their voices blending seamlessly. Haim quickly demonstrated their musical versatility, switching it up on the song's second verse, where Danielle took over on guitar and Alana played drums.

Black Pumas Brought The Soul

Multiple GRAMMY-nominated Austin band Black Pumas performed their soulful song "Colors." In a short film introducing the duo, singer Eric Burton recalled moving from New Mexico to Los Angeles in 2014, where he had to take two trains and two buses to busk at the Santa Monica Pier.

Burton said he had a love-hate relationship with street performing. Yet he always performed as if he was on the GRAMMYs stage, which he dreamed about as a little kid. With backup singers, wailing guitars, and smooth vocals, the dynamic performance—replete with a screeching yowl or two—gave the night some essential groove.

Enter DaBaby

Multiple GRAMMY-nominated rapper DaBaby performed the GRAMMY-nominated "Rockstar" with multiple GRAMMY nominee Roddy Ricch and a guest appearance by Anthony Hamilton. Backed by a gospel choir of older folks dressed as judges in robes, DaBaby kicked off his performance with his back to the audience, facing the choir and waving a conducting baton.

When Ricch and Hamilton took the mic, DaBaby turned around and conducted the choir. DaBaby added lyrics to the original version of "Rockstar," rapping about his GRAMMYs performance right then and there. "My skin don't look the same, so I get singled out/ Right now, I'm performing at the GRAMMYs; I’ll probably get profiled before leaving out."

Rounding out the ensemble was violinist MAPY. DaBaby then joined GRAMMY winner Dua Lipa for the disco-infused "Levitating."

Introducing… Silk Sonic!

Anderson .Paak, who won a GRAMMY for Best Melodic Rap Performance, and Bruno Mars debuted their new R&B project Silk Sonic. The performance followed a playful campaign on Twitter during GRAMMY week. They tweeted at the Recording Academy that they are "two out of work musicians" who would love to perform, a request that was happily obliged.

Performing their '70s soul-infused first single "Leave the Door Open" from their forthcoming record An Evening with Silk Sonic in throwback suits and shades, the pair delivered a smooth, crowd-pleasing performance. 

They even caught the eyes and ears of Halle Berry, who tweeted "Ima leave the door ooopen!"

A Touching In Memoriam

During a year in which we lost over 500,000 American lives to the pandemic, the In Memoriam tribute was even more poignant. Noah introduced the segment, explaining that because of the number of people we tragically lost in the last year, not all the names would appear, but they'd all be online after the show. 

The segment opened with footage of GRAMMY-winner Bill Withers, who died in March, performing his GRAMMY-winning song "Ain't No Sunshine." Then, Bruno Mars (on vocals) and Anderson .Paak (on drums) honored rock and roll pioneer Little Richard, who died in May, with "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "Long Tall Sally."

Lionel Richie, who wrote Kenny Rogers' hit song "Lady," performed the song in a touching tribute to the country legend and Richie's longtime friend who died last March. After his performance, an emotional Richie said, "I miss you, Kenny. I miss you, man." 

There was also footage of country legend Charley Pride, who died in December from complications of coronavirus, singing his GRAMMY-winning song "Kiss an Angel Good Morning," and multiple GRAMMY-winner Italian composer Ennio Morricone, who died last summer, conducting the score to "Cinema Paradiso."

Brandi Carlile paid tribute to her friend, the GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter John Prine, who died in April from complications related to the coronavirus, with a stirring performance of his song "I Remember Everything." At the end of her performance, Carlile said, "We all thank you, John. For everything."

Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard took the stage with Coldplay's Chris Martin accompanying her on the piano. They performed a powerful rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone," originally written by Rodgers and Hammerstein and a hit song in the 1960s for Gerry and the Pacemakers, whose lead singer Gerry Marsden died in January. 

The segment ended with a tribute to Walter C. Miller, a longtime veteran director of the GRAMMY Awards, Tonys, Emmys, and CMAs who died last year.

Country's Leading Lights Shone Bright

Country artist Mickey Guyton, who Noah introduced as the first Black female solo artist ever nominated in the country category, performed her gorgeous GRAMMY-nominated song "Black Like Me," giving an especially stirring and goosebumps-inducing performance with a backing gospel choir. Vibrant GRAMMY-winner Miranda Lambert performed her catchy country GRAMMY-nominated hit "Bluebird."

GRAMMY-nominated Maren Morris performed her hit GRAMMY-nominated song "Bones" accompanied by John Mayer on guitar. With Morris wearing a red gown and diamond choker and Mayer dressed casually in a blazer, white t-shirt and jeans, the pair looked at odds with each other. Still, they had powerful chemistry and seemed to be having a good time, with Mayer smiling broadly at Morris.

Post Malone Took Us To Church

A multiple-GRAMMY nominated Post Malone performed his poignant GRAMMY-nominated song "Hollywood's Bleeding." Opening with a robed choir holding candles in the darkness, Malone emerged on stage dressed entirely in leather covered in crosses with a giant cross hanging around his neck. Kneeling over in complete darkness, which became illuminated by purple lighting, Malone gave a focused and vibrant performance surrounded by dry ice.

BTS Made A Joyful Sound

South Korea's BTS, who made their GRAMMY debut last year performing alongside Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, and Nas, were first-time GRAMMY nominees this year. The seven-member boy band closed out the show from Seoul, Korea, on a set resembling the GRAMMYs in downtown Los Angeles.

Looking sharp in their colorful suits, they performed their GRAMMY-nominated smash hit "Dynamite." The slick choreography took the seven members on a journey from a rose-festooned stage to a red carpet with fireworks to a rooftop with strobe lights.

Lil Baby Raised His Voice

Multiple GRAMMY-nominated rapper Lil Baby took on police brutality with his highly charged performance of his GRAMMY-nominated song "The Bigger Picture." The performance opened with pulling over actor Kendrick Sampson and removing him from his car. As a quote by writer and activist James Baldwin was piped in, the police opened fire.

Activist Tamika Mallory appeared on stage, putting a call out to President Biden, saying, "President Biden, we demand justice, equity, policy and everything else that freedom encompasses." 

Later, Killer Mike made a surprise appearance rapping a verse from RTJ4's "Walking in the Snow." Lil Baby ended his moving performance standing on a police cruiser as fireworks are set off, his face turned toward the sky as he holds one arm high above his head.

2021 GRAMMYs Awards Show: Complete Winners & Nominees List

Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish

Photo: William Drumm

news

Billie Eilish's New Album 'Hit Me Hard And Soft': Everything We Know About Release Date, Close Friends Campaign & A More Eco-Friendly Release

On May 17, Billie Eilish will release her third studio album with brother Finneas — a release that emphasizes sustainability. Read on for everything about 'HIT ME HARD AND SOFT,' from the singer's eco-conscious production to innovative cover art.

GRAMMYs/Apr 8, 2024 - 10:20 pm

Billie Eilish has announced her third studio album, HIT ME HARD AND SOFT out May 17. 

Fresh off a sweeping set of award wins for Song Of The Year and Best Song Written For Visual Media at the 2024 GRAMMYs and Best Original Song at the Oscars for her hit single, "What Was I Made For?" from the Barbie soundtrack, Eilish is swapping Barbie pink for submerged shades of blue. 

Her new album, another collaboration with brother Finneas, comes almost three years after her sophomore effort, 2021's Happier Than Ever.

Ahead of the official press announcement and Instagram post on Monday, Eilish unleashed a viral ad campaign teasing the release. Billboards featuring the nine-time GRAMMY winner's "blohsh" symbol (a genderless human stick figure) with what fans guessed were cryptic lyrics, appeared in blue font on a black background across major cities, including Los Angeles and New York City's Times Square. Then, Eilish changed her social media icons to a shade of blue and treated Instagram followers to some more mystifying visual content via a set of story posts that included her millions of fans being added to Close Friends on the app. 

That strategy paid off, exploding the number of followers Eilish counts on the platform to over 120 million (up from 110 million on Friday) in the span of just three days. One fan summed up the collective rush to join the inner circle with a comment that's racked up over 10,000 likes: "Not a big deal but I’m on her close friends."

As she dives into deeper artistic waters with her third album, Billie Eilish continues to push the boundaries of music and environmental activism, blending her unique sound with a strong commitment to sustainability. Read on for everything GRAMMY.com has unearthed about Eilish's upcoming release. 

There Won't Be Any Pre-Released Singles

Fans hoping for an early taste of what's to come will have to wait almost a full month to quench their thirst for any new music. 

Eilish confirmed via Instagram that the album will drop in full, without any pre-released singles. “So crazy to be writing this right now i’m nervyyyyy & exciteddd," Eilish wrote. Continuing, "Not doing singles i wanna give it to you all at once. Finneas and i truly could not be more proud of this album and we absolutely can’t wait for you to hear it. Love you love you love you.”

It's Her Most Daring Work To Date

The album is set to debut in a year poised to feature some of the most significant releases from major musicians, each exploring and redefining genre boundaries, trends, and soundscapes.

"HIT ME HARD AND SOFT is a diverse yet cohesive collection of songs, ideally listened to in its entirety from beginning to end," a press release accompanying the announcement stated.  "The album does exactly as the title suggests: hits you hard and soft both lyrically and sonically while bending genres and defying trends along the way." 

The Cover Art Is Haunting

The cover art is elusive and mysterious, featuring a dark and moody image of Eilish that matches statements about her plunging to new depths as an artist. Dressed head-to-toe in dark colors, she is depicted sinking into the depths of a body of water, beneath a stark white door floating at the surface.

The cover art tracks against the statements in the press release that note, "HIT ME HARD AND SOFT journeys through a vast and expansive audio landscape, immersing listeners into a full spectrum of emotions." 

The Release Is Focused On Sustainability

Eilish is hoping to turn the power of her fans into a force for good — her latest album hopes to set a new standard for eco-conscious music production with sustainability baked into the production of CD, cassette, and vinyl releases. 

In an interview with Billboard Eilish said, "The fact that I have a far bigger audience and platform than I’ve ever had in my life means I can reach that many more people, and that’s such a huge responsibility and privilege to have." She continued, “If I don’t use that privilege to do some good in the world, then what’s the point?"

According to a new sustainability page on her website, fans can anticipate eight distinct vinyl variants, each unified in track-listing but varied in their sustainable creation. Available through her website and major retailers, the standard black vinyl is crafted entirely from recycled materials. The other seven vibrant variants use ECO-MIX, which repurposes leftover vinyl pieces, or BioVinyl, reducing carbon emissions by 90 percent with ingredients like used cooking oil. The packaging itself is also focused on environmental responsibility, featuring certified recycled content and plant-based ink. 

On building more sustainable processes into her album release as a major artist, Eilish told Billboard, “I can’t just ignore what I know and go about my business and career and not do something. That’s just not how I was raised, or how I want to live my life."

Watch Billie Eilish & FINNEAS’ 2024 GRAMMYs Red Carpet Interview

Megan Thee Stallion at the 2021 GRAMMYs
Megan Thee Stallion at the 2021 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

video

GRAMMY Rewind: Megan Thee Stallion Went From "Savage" To Speechless After Winning Best New Artist In 2021

Relive the moment Megan Thee Stallion won the coveted Best New Artist honor at the 2021 GRAMMYs, where she took home three golden gramophones thanks in part to her chart-topping smash "Savage."

GRAMMYs/Apr 5, 2024 - 05:25 pm

In 2020, Megan Thee Stallion solidified herself as one of rap's most promising new stars, thanks to her hit single "Savage." Not only was it her first No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100, but the "sassy, moody, nasty" single also helped Megan win three GRAMMYs in 2021.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, revisit the sentimental moment the Houston "Hottie" accepted one of those golden gramophones, for Best New Artist.

"I don't want to cry," Megan Thee Stallion said after a speechless moment at the microphone. Before starting her praises, she gave a round of applause to her fellow nominees in the category, who she called "amazing."

Along with thanking God, she also acknowledged her manager, T. Farris, for "always being with me, being by my side"; her record label, 300 Entertainment, for "always believing in me, sticking by through my craziness"; and her mother, who "always believed I could do it."

Megan Thee Stallion's "Savage" remix with Beyoncé also helped her win Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance that night — marking the first wins in the category by a female lead rapper.

Press play on the video above to watch Megan Thee Stallion's complete acceptance speech for Best New Artist at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards, and remember to check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

Black Sounds Beautiful: How Megan Thee Stallion Turned Viral Fame Into A GRAMMY-Winning Rap Career

J-Hope performing in 2022
J-Hope performs during the Times Square New Year's Eve 2023 Celebration in New York City.

Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

feature

J-Hope's Road To 'Hope On The Street Vol.1,' From Falling Back In Love With Dance To Tying Together His Global Influences

After 11 years in BTS, j-hope revisits the passion that started it all: dancing. Ahead of his new docuseries and special album, 'Hope on the Street Vol.1,' discover the full-circle journey that brought him back to his roots.

GRAMMYs/Mar 28, 2024 - 04:28 pm

"Just dance," j-hope commands on his 2018 BTS solo track.

For the international sensation, that's what it's always been about: expressing himself through movement. Now, 11 years after the launch of the seven-piece group, j-hope takes a U-turn to where it all began, before his K-pop idol days, street dancing between his hometown, Gwangju, and Seoul, South Korea.

Out March 29, j-hope's new special album, Hope on the Street Vol.1, is a musical ode to dancing that boasts a "vibrant collection of six tracks spanning a diverse array of sounds and moods that showcase j-hope's musical prowess and depth." Like j-hope's global perspective of dance, the EP expands borders and sounds, featuring appearances from HYBE labelmate HUH YUNJIN of LE SSERAFIM as well as American stars Nile Rodgers and Benny Blanco.

The mini-album will also be accompanied by a docuseries of the same name, premiering on Amazon Prime Video on March 28. According to a press statement, the six-part project will "highlight j-hope's story and love for dancing as he begins a new journey."

Ahead of Hope on the Street Vol.1's arrival, take a look at how j-hope's origins inspired the project — from his enrollment in a local dance academy to songwriting with J. Cole on their 2023 single, "on the street."

Finding Purpose In Dance

Long before becoming a global superstar, j-hope (born Jung Ho-seok) first discovered his love for dancing on the playground.

"The school I went to had a dance lesson for 30 minutes in the morning. They would play a dance video, and we would copy it as exercise," j-hope recalled in a 2013 interview for the BTS Japan Fanclub magazine. "My friends around me would praise me, saying, 'You're really good!'"

Eventually, those recess workouts turned into a passion. J-hope began practicing moves at home and freestyling at local talent shows. By the sixth grade, he told his parents he was serious about it, enrolling him in Gwangju's Joy Dance Academy.

While at the Academy, j-hope also joined the underground dance crew, NEURON, building a reputation under the name "Smile Hoya." Though he hasn't participated in the troupe since his pre-BTS days, he still recognizes it as one of the most influential parts of his career.

He'll even honor the crew with Hope on the Street, which includes a track called "NEURON," featuring Gaeko and yoonmirae. He will also return to Gwangju in the closing chapter of the docuseries.

It's not the first time j-hope shouted out Gwangju, either. His 2019 collab with Becky G, "Chicken Noodle Soup," paid tribute to his beloved upbringing: "From Gwangju, one gang of you-know-what/ Geumnam Chungjang Street, that's my Harlem." (The same track also foreshadowed his latest release: "Hope on the street, now it's my own way.")

Forging A New Life In Music With BTS

J-hope continued to have a diligent mindset as a trainee at Big Hit Entertainment. But as revealed in BTS' 2018 docuseries, Burn the Stage, training and dieting became emotionally and physically tolling. At one point, j-hope even considered leaving the group.

"I couldn't do things I wanted to do," he revealed during a 2021 You Quiz on the Block segment. "To be honest, I wanted to play games. I want to go out and hang out. I wanted to stay with my family. I had to give up a lot of things from that perspective."

The stress became so intense that he bought a one-way ticket to Gwangju. But ultimately, the brotherhood and love of music he formed with BTS gave him the courage to return: "I came back because I trusted you," j-hope recounted.

And they trusted him, too: "I told [Big Hit] that we needed Jung Ho-seok. We couldn't debut without him," RM responded. Meanwhile, Jung Kook delivered a tearful speech to encourage him to stay with the band.

The longer he stayed, the more j-hope began to love other sides of music, like producing and songwriting. Now, he has become one of the main writers for the group's tracks, alongside RM and Suga, and has co-penned all of his solo projects, including Hope on the Street.

Spreading His Wings With Two Full-Length Solo Projects

After nearly 10 projects with BTS, j-hope delivered his debut mixtape, Hope World, in March 2018.

"My fantasy had always been making a music video and performing with the music I had created. I wanted to put my own story to music and share it with the world," he told Time magazine upon Hope World’s release.

It's an introduction to j-hope the artist, inviting listeners to step into Hope World, a colorful kaleidoscope of different cultures and styles — something that has also been a key part of his dance journey.

Though, j-hope still wanted to dig deeper into his artistry. He developed his sound, becoming more vulnerable in his lyricism on tracks like 2020's "Outro: Ego." By 2022, he was ready to drop his first studio album, Jack in the Box.

Where Hope World showcases j-hope's dance performance, Jack in the Box highlights "my artistry in music." But Hope on the Street paints the full image of the phenom — part musician, part dancer.

Laying The Groundwork With "On The Street," Featuring J. Cole

One of j-hope's earliest musical influences was J. Cole. The rapper inspired j-hope's stage name and the title of his mixtape, which pays homage to 2011's Cole World. In 2022, j-hope honored Cole with "Born Singer," the BTS re-write of Cole's "Born Sinner." So, a celebratory meeting was in order when they were both scheduled to perform at Lollapalooza (where j-hope made history as the first Korean soloist to headline).

"[He's] my idol," j-hope said to Variety in 2023. Since they met, he "couldn't stop thinking about how great it would be if we could make music together." He reached out to J. Cole, and "on the street" was born.

As j-hope told Variety, the "street" concept became a metaphor for life: "The street is a place where people can actually encounter and feel real lives of people: a child's innocent mind; first encounter with someone and falling in love; someone in an urgent moment;" and so much more. It's the place where he learned to love dance — and where he grew a love for music and artists like J. Cole, who called their collab "a blessing" in the behind-the-scenes footage.

And thus, "on the street" became the springboard for his forthcoming project, Hope on the Street.

Unveiling A Docuseries And A Multi-Part Project

By the tail end of 2023, each member of BTS had enlisted in mandatory military service. But even during the septet's hiatus, j-hope managed to serve up a surprise announcement of Hope on the Street on Feb. 17 with a fitting montage of dance videos.

The joint docuseries and album follows j-hope's journey of self-discovery, accompanying his former instructor, Boogaloo Kin, as they dance their way through the streets of Osaka, Seoul, Paris, New York, and his hometown while meeting other dancers.

"Hope on the Street, my roots, the most important part of my life. This is how j-hope danced. I wanted to share this story with you," he said in an interview for the documentary.

After years of breaking records and making history as a member of BTS, it was "a chance to look back on my life," he explained in another trailer. "I realized the answer was in song and dance."

Culminating j-hope's skills in both art forms, Hope on the Street is a love letter to everything that's made him who he is today — and proof he'll never forget it.

6 Takeaways From 'BTS Monuments: Beyond The Star'

Kane Brown performing in 2023
Kane Brown performing at the 2023 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas.

Photo: Denise Truscello/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

list

A Brief History Of Black Country Music: 11 Important Tracks From DeFord Bailey, Kane Brown & More

While the world anticipates the arrival of Beyoncé's 'Act II: COWBOY CARTER' on March 29, revisit these 11 songs by influential Black country musicians throughout history, from a Charley Pride classic to a Mickey Guyton statement piece.

GRAMMYs/Mar 22, 2024 - 10:24 pm

In February, Beyoncé added to her record-breaking legacy by becoming the first Black woman to top Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart with her single "TEXAS HOLD 'EM."

"I feel honored," she shared on Instagram in a countdown post to her RENAISSANCE sequel, Act II: COWBOY CARTER, out March 29. "My hope is that years from now, the mention of an artist's race, as it relates to releasing genres of music, will be irrelevant."

Since she first dabbled in country music with "Daddy Lessons" in 2016, the icon has received consistent backlash about whether she belongs in the genre. That same year, audiences campaigned for a boycott against the Country Music Awards for her performance of the track alongside The Chicks, later resulting in its erasure from promotional advertisements. And eight years later, the conversation returns as radio listeners question if her music should air on country stations.

Ironically, if you look back through music history, you will quickly discover that Beyoncé isn't the first (and certainly not the last) Black musician doing country music. 

In fact, the genre plants its sonic roots in negro spirituals and field songs, written on slave plantations. African American Vernacular English continues to influence contemporary chart-topper's lyricism and vocal twang. The banjo, which descends from the West African akonting lute, remains one of the quintessential instruments of the genre. Whether Beyoncé or the many artists who came before her, nothing sits at the heart of country music more than Black art.

To understand the full scope of Black creatives' impact in country, GRAMMY.com examines some of the influential tracks and moments of those who have made their mark on the genre and the music industry — from DeFord Bailey's Grand Ole Opry debut in 1927, to Darius Rucker's post-Hootie & The Blowfish country foray in 2008, to Breland's 2021 fusion of country and hip-hop.

DeFord Bailey — "Pan American Blues" (1927)

Before there was Mickey Guyton, Darius Rucker, or even Charley Pride, there was DeFord Bailey, the "harmonica wizard" from Tennessee.

After performing locally, another musician introduced Bailey to Nashville powerhouse radio station WSM's manager, George D. Hay, who later invited him to join the Grand Ole Opry — making Bailey the first Black member. He quickly rose to become one of the program's highest-paid players at the time, largely thanks to his iconic instrumental tune, "Pan American Blues," which imitated the sounds he heard from the railroad during his childhood.

As of press time, the only other Black inductees in the Grand Ole Opry are Rucker and Pride.

Lead Belly — "In The Pines" (1944)

"My girl, my girl, don't lie to me/ Tell me, where did you sleep last night?/ In the pines, in the pines/ Whether the sun don't ever shine/ I would shiver the whole night through," Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter questions in the Appalachian folk song, "In the Pines."

Though Lead Belly isn't the original writer of the song, his chilling vibrato on the recording inspired singers for years to come, including Kurt Cobain, who later covered the track in Nirvana's 1993 MTV Unplugged performance under the title "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" and named the '40s country blues legend his "favorite performer."

Linda Martell — "Color Him Father" (1969)

In "Color Him Father," Linda Martell narrates the heartfelt tale of a stepdad who embraces his new paternal role to a widowed mother and her seven children. It's also the song that propelled her to stardom, landing her a historic performance as the first Black woman on the Grand Ole Opry stage and later opening the door for debut album, Color Me Country.

After the project was released, Martell stepped away from the limelight, but her impact lived on. She was the inspiration for contemporary luminaries like Mickey Guyton: "The fact that she was there was groundbreaking ... She gave me the courage to be here," Guyton told Rolling Stone in 2020.

Charley Pride — "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" (1971)

Through his nearly seven decades-spanning career, Charley Pride became a certified hitmaker and one of the most renowned pioneers of his time. By 1987, he amassed more than 50 Top 10 hits on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, with 30 peaking at No. 1 — including his most notable single, "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'."

After Pride passed away from COVID-19 complications in 2020, the response to his death highlighted the magnitude of his legacy, receiving condolences from Dolly Parton, Billy Ray Cyrus, and perhaps the most personal from Darius Rucker.

"I couldn't have done what I do, I don't think, if there hadn't been Charley before me," Rucker said in an essay for Billboard. Pride served not only as an icon but also as a mentor to Rucker, and his kindness ultimately gave Rucker the courage to do the same for the next generation.

Cleve Francis — "You Do My Heart Good" (1992)

As a cardiologist and songwriter, Dr. Cleve Francis certainly knew a "good heart."

In his 1992 track, "You Do My Heart Good," Francis sings about a budding love that shows him how to see life in a beautiful light. The song eventually became the second single from his Liberty Records debut LP, Tourist in Paradise.

Francis later founded the now-defunct Black Country Music Association in 1995 to foster an inclusive environment in the Nashville music scene and provide resources to aspiring singers. Under his advisory, the BCMA, with the help of Warner Bros., produced From Where I Stand, a record book of Black artists' contributions to the genre.

Darius Rucker — "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" (2008)

Before 2008, many knew Darius Rucker better as Hootie, thanks to his remarkable '90s run as frontman of jangle pop band Hootie & the Blowfish. But with his second album as a solo act, 2008's Learn to Live, the world met Darius Rucker, the country artist.

Fittingly, he chose a heartbreaking ballad for his first country single — "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," a heartbreaking ballad about a man who wonders what could have been in a previous relationship. The choice resonated with country listeners:  "Don't Think I Don't Think About It" debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, making Rucker the first Black country artist to have a chart-topper since Pride in 1983. 

Kane Brown — "Heaven" (2017)

Since his major label debut, Brown has possessed a unique boy-next-door charm, less "Western" than his peers. "Not laced up in a tight belt and buckle hat," but proof that "you can be who you want to be, and you can still listen to country music," his manager, Martha Earls, told Variety in 2018.

Take "Heaven," a romantic ballad with the Southern drawl and instrumentation of a classic country tune. But when you add Brown's R&B influence and natural swagger, the track invites audiences both in and outside of country.

Though Brown now has 12 No. 1 songs on the Country Airplay chart, "Heaven" is undoubtedly the country star's biggest song to date thanks to its crossover qualities and romantic resonance. And just last year, "Heaven" became only the seventh country artist in history to receive a diamond certification from the RIAA; Brown is the second Black country artist to achieve the feat, as Rucker's anthemic cover of "Wagon Wheel" reached diamond status in 2022.

Mickey Guyton — "Black Like Me" (2020)

In a 2020 interview with Rolling Stone, Mickey Guyton recalled that she wrote "Black Like Me" at a writer's retreat in 2019, thinking, "There is no way that anybody is going to accept this." But at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, there was no doubt that it was what the industry, especially the country genre, needed to hear.

"It's a hard life on easy street/ Just white painted picket fences far as you can see/ If you think we live in the land of the free/ You should try to be Black like me," she croons on the chorus.

The single made Guyton the first-ever Black woman nominated for Best Country Solo Performance at the 2021 GRAMMYs, and also helped her earn nominations for New Female Artist Of The Year and New Artist Of The Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Country Music Association Awards, respectively, in 2021..

Guyton continues to use her voice for advocacy, from speaking out on racial issues to chronicling the Black experience on her 2021 album, Remember Her Name

Breland — "Throw It Back" (2021)

Since making his debut with "My Truck" in 2019, Breland has been praised for his innovative fusion of country, gospel, hip-hop, and R&B. But beyond his sonic landscape, he's also inviting some unlikely choreography into the genre: twerking.

"If she got a shot of whiskey, she know how to throw it back/ She turn up for Elvis Presley, told the DJ, 'Throw it back,'" Breland cheers in the chorus of the trap-infused track.  "If you sexy and you know it, make it clap."

"Throw It Back" features Keith Urban, whoappreciates Breland for his confidence to go beyond the mold of country music's expectations. "He's one of the only artists I've ever met that does not care at all what something sounds like or what box it fits. If he likes it, if it catches his ear, he wants to be a part of it in some way," Urban explained to Taste of Country in 2021.

The War and Treaty — "Blank Page" (2022)

The War and Treaty are making the most of their "Blank Page."

The husband-and-wife pair — Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter — began their musical journey together in 2016.  Seven years later, thanks to their first major label EP, 2022's Blank Page, they also started making history. The War and Treaty became the first Black duo to receive a nomination for Duo Of The Year at the 2023 Academy of Country Music Awards, where they also delivered a stirring performance of the EP's title track, a heartfelt song about a new slate in love. 

Six months later, they made history again as the first Black pair nominated for Duo Of The Year at the 2023 Country Music Association Awards; they took the stage there as well, performing"That's How Love Is Made" from their 2023 album, Lover's Game

They added to their growing legacy at the 2024 GRAMMYs as well,  receiving their first GRAMMY nominations. "Blank Page" earned the duo a nod for Best American Roots Song, and they also were up for the coveted Best New Artist.

Tanner Adell — "Buckle Bunny" (2023)

When Beyoncé dropped "TEXAS HOLD 'EM" and "16 CARRIAGES" in February, country newcomer Tanner Adell readily tossed her cowgirl hat into the ring to become Queen Bey's next collaborator. "I hope Bey decides to sprinkle me with a dash of her magic," she pitched in a tweet that has now garnered more than four million views.

Adell's music is reminiscent of Beyoncé's own empowered narratives, particularly the 2023 single "Buckle Bunny," which even declares that she's "Lookin' like Beyoncé with a lasso." Like Breland, Adell brings a hip-hop flair to country music, exemplified by the thumping beats and rap-inspired singing of "Buckle Bunny."

As artists like Adell, Breland, Kane Brown, and more continue to push the boundaries of the country genre, they'll also remind listeners of its rich lineage in Black culture — past, present, and future.

Why 2024 Is The Year Women In Country Music Will Finally Have Their Moment