Beyonce has become the most decorated female act in Grammy history, while Taylor Swift secured the ceremony’s biggest prize in a triumphant night for women.
Queen Bey picked up four gongs, bringing her to a total of 28 career wins – overtaking country star Alison Krauss.
Swift won album of the year for her towering lockdown effort Folklore while British star Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stallion and Billie Eilish were also among the big winners.
Beyonce’s wins on the night included best R&B performance, rap performance, rap song and music video.
She hugged husband Jay-Z before delivering an emotional acceptance speech, fighting back tears while reflecting on her glittering career.
“I am so honoured, I am so excited,” she told the socially distanced audience.
“As an artist I believe it’s my job and all of our jobs to reflect the times and it’s been such a difficult time so I wanted to uplift, encourage, celebrate all of the beautiful black queens and kings that continue to inspire me and inspire the whole world.
“This is so overwhelming. I have been working my whole life, since nine years old and I can’t believe this happened, it’s such a magical night. Thank you so much.”
She paid tribute to her three children, including oldest daughter Blue Ivy, nine, who won a Grammy earlier in the day.
After winning album of the year – the biggest award of the night – for Folklore, Swift thanked her collaborators including Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and British actor Joe Alwyn, her boyfriend of five years.
She said Alwyn was “the first person who I play every single song that I write and I had the best time writing songs with you in quarantine”.
Swift also hailed her fans, saying: “You guys met us in this imaginary world that we created and we can’t tell you how honoured we are forever by this.”
Her success saw her become the first female singer to win album of the year three times.
The Grammys – delayed by the pandemic from January – were anchored from the Los Angeles Convention Centre and hosted by Trevor Noah.
During his opening monologue, Noah pointed to the masked nominees, seated and socially distanced and said there is “more tension in that tent than at a family reunion at Buckingham Palace,” a reference to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s recent bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Noah added: “Tonight we’re hoping that this is all about what 2021 can be, full of joy, new beginnings and coming together.
“Never forgetting what happened in 2020 but full of hope for what is to come.”
Some of the world’s biggest stars performed across different stages, a pandemic-era precaution.
Many of the performances were pre-recorded, but all were presented as though live.
In what was perhaps the ceremony’s most keenly anticipated performance, Swift delivered a medley of songs from her sister albums Folklore and Evermore.
Against the backdrop of a log cabin, she was joined by recent collaborators Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner of The National for a rustic performance.
The trio performed Cardigan, August and Willow.
Harry Styles had kicked off the show with a rendition of Watermelon Sugar, the track that ultimately scored the British singer his first Grammy.
The former One Direction star, known for his androgynous fashion sense, performed wearing an open leather jacket and trouser combination with a green scarf.
Pop sensation Eilish, who dominated last year’s ceremony, took to the stage for her single Everything I Wanted, performing on top of a car which appeared to be submerged in the studio floor.
The 19-year-old later won record of the year for Everything I Wanted.
Lipa, who won the Grammy for best new artist in 2019, performed a medley of her songs wearing a glittering pink outfit, and was joined by rapper DaBaby for the track Levitating.
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion appeared together for a more family friendly version of the explicit single WAP, delivering a typically risque performance incorporating both a giant stiletto and a bed.
Rapper Lil Baby’s performance of The Bigger Picture took place on a set inspired by the social unrest of last year, with protesters clashing with police.
A tearful Megan Thee Stallion won best new artist, capping a meteoric rise to the top of rap music.
Holding back tears, the Houston star praised her fellow nominees, God, her team and her late mother, who died of a brain tumour in 2019.
Styles won best pop solo performance for his smash hit Watermelon Sugar while in what was a surprise to many, H.E.R. took home song of the year Grammy for I Can’t Breathe.
She penned the protest track in the wake of police killings of unarmed black people and was rewarded with one of the four most prestigious Grammys,
Best country album went to Miranda Lambert for Wildcard,
Some awards were presented from live music venues across the US which had been forced to close due to the health crisis.
They included the Station Inn in Nashville, Tennessee, The Troubadour in West Hollywood and Harlem’s Apollo Theatre.
And Grammys’ in memoriam segment paid tribute to some of the musicians who died over the last 12 months.
They included extended tributes to rock and roll pioneer Little Richard, country music star Kenny Rogers and folk singer John Prine.
The segment also included tributes to You’ll Never Walk Alone singer Gerry Marsden, Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green, Fountains Of Wayne singer Adam Schlesinger, producer Sophie, country music star Charley Pride and rapper Pop Smoke.
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