Music’s biggest awards show won’t be happening this month as scheduled.
The 2021 Grammy Awards have been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
The awards show was originally scheduled for January 31 in Los Angeles, California. Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, was slated to host the awards.
How do you have a massive awards show in the middle of a pandemic?
But for months, the Recording Academy has been struggling with complications involved in staging a major awards show amid the pandemic — one that normally has an audience of 18,000+ people. It’s been self-billed as “Music’s Biggest Night,” after all.
Back in September, the initial plan was to hold the event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as usual. They were intending to hold it with a limited audience. Then in November, plans changed to having the show held “in and around Downtown Los Angeles,” according to Harvey Mason, Jr., Chair and Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy. It opened up the possibility of staging performances across multiple venues in the area, or perhaps even outdoors.
“It’s gonna be a show that’s different from other awards shows that have happened at this point,” Mason told Variety late in November. “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.”
Unfortunately, we won’t see any of those ideas come to fruition — at least, not any time soon. Somehow, I don’t think The Weeknd will be disappointed.
Cases are surging as Los Angeles becomes the epicenter of the pandemic
COVID-19 cases were already on the rise moving into the holidays. But holiday gatherings have caused quite a surge in COVID-19 cases nationally. It’s especially the case in Los Angeles, which is now considered the epicenter of the pandemic.
Because of this, the 63rd annual Grammy Awards have been postponed to Saturday, March 14, 2021.
“After thoughtful conversation with health experts, our host and artists scheduled to appear, we are rescheduling the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards® to be broadcast Sunday, March 14, 2021,” reads the official statement.
“The deteriorating COVID situation in Los Angeles, with hospital services being overwhelmed, ICUs having reached capacity, and new guidance from state and local governments have all led us to conclude that postponing our show was the right thing to do,” the statement continues. “Nothing is more important than the health and safety of those in our music community and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly on producing the show.”
The joint statement is signed by Mason; along with Jack Sussman, Executive Vice President, Specials, Music, Live Events and Alternative Programming at CBS; and Ben Winston, Grammy Awards Executive Producer, Fulwell 73 Productions.
“We want to thank all of the talented artists, the staff, our vendors, and especially this year’s nominees for their understanding, patience and willingness to work with us as we navigate these unprecedented times,” it concludes.
The show must go on
This isn’t the first awards show forced to change gears, thanks to the pandemic.
The BET Awards was essentially a host in front of a green screen, featuring high-production music videos. The MTV VMAs were mostly pre-taped, and held in various locations around New York. Host Tarji P. Henson was in an empty Microsoft Theater during the American Music Awards. The Emmys hilariously had cardboard cut-outs of celebs in the audience.
The Country Music Association Awards (CMAs) also made changes amid the pandemic. The event was held in a small venue with a limited audience. However, it led to widespread criticism after country legend Charley Pride, who performed at the event, died of complications from coronavirus just a month later. It’s unknown if he contracted the illness at the event or not.
But it did raise questions about whether live awards shows are appropriate or safe until the pandemic is under control.