Grammys Postpone 2021 Awards Show Due to COVID Concerns

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The Grammy Awards are being postponed, a rep for the show confirms to Variety. Further details are expected shortly. Sources say the show may be moved to March, although no date was confirmed at the time of this article’s publication.

Sources tell Variety that a combination of health and travel concerns — not least the spike in coronavirus cases in the show’s planned location of Los Angeles — led the Recording Academy and its network partner CBS to decide to postpone the show, which is scheduled to be hosted by “The Daily Show”‘s Trevor Noah, from its originally planned January 31st date. The move is not entirely unexpected, as Variety has heard several confusing reports in recent days around performances scheduled for the show.

For months, the Grammys have been contending with the countless complications involved in staging a major awards show that ordinarily has an audience of 18,000-plus people — self-billed as “Music’s Biggest Night” — during a pandemic. While interim Grammy chief Harvey Mason, jr. told Variety last summer that the initial general plan was to hold the event at its longtime home of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, with either a limited or no audience, in recent weeks he said the show would be held “in and around Downtown Los Angeles,” opening the possibility that performances could be staged from multiple venues in that area.

In a brief interview with Billboard published last month, new Grammys executive producer Ben Winston said he was “looking to do something quite exciting with independent venues” either in or around the 2021 show.

“I’m so struck by the independent music venues around the world, and I’m aware of how hard hit that side of the industry has been. I’m looking to do something quite exciting with the independent venues — supporting them and putting a spotlight on them in what has been a really tough year for them.” The venues will receive aid as part of the Save Our Stages Act, which was passed into law along with the stimulus bill last month.

Mason told Variety late in November that the Grammys were looking at other shows for ideas, but “It’s gonna be a show that’s different from the other awards shows that have happened at this point,” he said. “We’re going to determine as we get a little bit closer what we’re going to do with our audience, but we have some really cool and special things that are coming together for our show.”

The BET Awards, held early in the summer, was an essentially series of high-production music videos with a host in front of a green screen; several weeks later, the mostly pre-taped MTV VMAs were held in a variety of locations in and around New York; while the Country Music Association Awards were held in a small venue with a limited audience — leading to widespread criticism after 86-year-old singer Charley Pride, who was present at the event, died of complications from coronavirus just a month later, although he had tested negative for the virus before, at, and after the show. Last summer, the Academy Awards announced that their 2021 show would be moved from its usual February date to April.

The show, which has been plagued by controversies in three of the past four years — ranging from a lack of gender and racial diversity to the sudden ouster of Mason’s predecessor, Deborah Dugan, just days before the 2020 show — stirred up another when nominations were announced late in November: In an unprecedented snub, the Weeknd, one of the year’s most commercially and critically successful artists, received no nominations. Beyoncé leads the contenders with nine — an unexpectedly high profile, given that the superstar didn’t even release a new album during the eligibility period — followed by six apiece for Taylor Swift, Roddy Ricch, and Dua Lipa.

Brittany Howard, of Alabama Shakes fame, was close behind that grouping with five nominations for her solo debut. Earning four each were returning Grammy queen Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby, Phoebe Bridgers, Justin Bieber, jazz pianist John Beasley, and classical producer David Frost.

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