Juli Thanki , Dave Paulson and Cindy Watts , The Tennessean Published 11:01 p.m. CT Feb. 12, 2017
Maren Morris beat out country's top artists including Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Brandy Clark to win Best Country Solo Performance for her debut single "My Church." "Oh my goodness, this is so crazy," Morris exclaimed from the stage. "Eleven years ago I went to the first ever Grammy camp. Sturgill Simpson: The Grammys' man of mystery Grammys 2017: Sturgill Simpson wins best country album A Grammys sweep for Nashville Symphony Hillary Scott & Scott Family accept early Grammy Awards Video by Jessica Davis/ The Tennessean
Nashville won big at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles Sunday, as Music City-based artists racked up nearly 20 trophies and delivered some of the most memorable performances over the course of the recording industry's biggest night.
Though local artists were shut out of the all-genre awards — Chance the Rapper beat out singers Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerinifor Best New Artist and Sturgill Simpson watched Adele take home the night’s biggest prize, Album of the Year — Nashville dominated the roots, country, classical and Contemporary Christian categories.
Simpson earned his first Grammy when his album “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” was named Best Country Album. He came into the show as one of the night's least-known nominees outside the country and roots music world.
“Sturgill Simpson is here and Google just crashed from everyone typing ‘Who the hell is that?’” host James Corden joked in his opening monologue. But Simpson certainly made himself known on Sunday. During the ceremony he delivered a striking performance of “All Around You” with the Dap Kings’ horn section
"Six years ago, I was in Utah, working on a railroad, writing songs at night," Simpson said from the podium after his Best Country Album win. "My wife made me quit that job and move to Nashville. So thank you, babe. About two and a half years ago, our first son was born, right around the time my last record came out. So I spent the first year of his life on the road, missing him and her. And if it hadn't been for them, I wouldn't have written this record. So I have to dedicate this to my family."
Morris was another first-time winner. Her hit “My Church” was named Best Country Solo Performance. From the stage, the young star thanked her record label, her mom and her fans for giving her "the most incredible year of my life." Morris returned to the stage later in the evening with R&B's Alicia Keys for a powerful performance of the song "Once."
Beyoncé’s show-stopping performance was one of the night’s highlights. Clad in gold and surrounded by dancers, the megastar — who recently announced that she and husband Jay-Z are expecting twins — performed “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles,” two songs from “Lemonade.
After “Lemonade” was named Best Urban Contemporary Album, Beyoncé delivered a moving acceptance speech: “We all experience pain and loss, and often we become inaudible. My intention for the film and album was to create a body of work that will give a voice to our pain, our struggles, our darkness and our history. To confront issues that make us uncomfortable. It’s important for me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty, so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror…and see themselves, and have no doubt that they’re beautiful, intelligent and capable. This is something I want for every child of every race. And I feel it’s vital that we learn from the past, and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes.”
Last year, Lori McKenna shared the Best Country Song Grammy Award with fellow “Girl Crush” co-writers Liz Rose and Hillary Lindsey. This time around, she accepted the trophy herself as the sole songwriter of “Humble and Kind,” which Tim McGraw took to the top of the charts last summer. "This is such an honor…Tim McGraw made a moment out of this little, tiny, simple prayer that I wrote for five kids,” McKenna said during her acceptance speech. Backstage, she called it a "school day song," telling the press, "I dropped my kids off in the morning and sat in my yoga pants and wrote. It’s a very simple song, talking about things I want my kids to know. And I tried to make sure I had a line to apply to each of my kids."
This was McKenna’s only win Sunday night, although the singer-songwriter was nominated in four categories, including Best American Roots Song.
That trophy went to "Kid Sister," the song Vince Gill wrote about his Time Jumpers bandmate Dawn Sears. Sears, a vocal powerhouse who was the heart of the Western Swing band, died in late 2014, fewer than three years after being diagnosed with lung cancer. In his acceptance speech, Gill said, "I wish you all would have had the chance once in your life to hear the voice of the woman I wrote this song about…She's one of the best voices you'll ever hear in your life. I encourage you to find her voice."
In another emotional moment, Joey + Rory’s “Hymns” was named Best Roots Gospel Album, nearly a year after Joey Martin Feek’s death. “My wife’s dream was to make a hymns album,” Rory Feek explained from the stage. “So she sang her vocals in hotel rooms while she did chemo and radiation.”
He also told the audience how he promised his wife he’d attend the awards ceremony if the record was nominated, and her words to him: “Remember, if we win, I’ll know before you will.”
Also during the pre-telecast, Hillary Scott and the Scott Family — her mother Linda Davis, father Lang Scott and sister Rylee — tearfully accepted two awards: Contemporary Christian Music Album for their release “Love Wins” and Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for “Thy Will,” written by Bernie Herms, Hillary Scott and Emily Weisband. "We've been crying since this project started....Our prayer, from day one and throughout, was that it would permeate to people that would hear it that are in need, and it would give them comfort and encourage them," said Lang Scott.
Nashville also cleaned up in the classical music categories. "Daugherty: Tales Of Hemingway" — which features the Nashville Symphony and Giancarlo Guerrero as conductor — won Best Classical Instrumental Solo, Contemporary Classical Composition and Classical Compendium in the span of five minutes during the pre-telecast. That equals two more Grammys for Guerrero (bringing his total to five); he's part of the first two awards, but "composition" goes solely to the piece's composer. He wasn't present at Sunday's ceremony, but cellist Zuill Bailey thanked him "for conducting this live performance that I’ll never forget. It taught me to fight fear.”
Megadeth picked up their first Grammy for Best Metal Performance. The win comes a couple years after frontman Dave Mustaine and his family moved to the Nashville area. Another big rock award went to a band whose members (mostly) call Nashville home. Cage the Elephant won best rock album for their 2015 album, "Tell Me I'm Pretty." It's also the first Grammy win for the band, which emerged from Bowling Green, Kentucky a decade ago.
“Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin,” produced by Nashville’s Buddy Cannon, won the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Grammy. It is Cannon’s first Grammy as a producer, and Nelson’s eighth award. The record came about after the country legend was awarded the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2015.
Rock Album: "Tell Me I'm Pretty," Cage the Elephant
Metal Performance: "Dystopia," Megadeth
Traditional Pop Vocal Album: "Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin," Willie Nelson; Buddy Cannon, producer
Country Solo Performance: "My Church," Maren Morris
Country Duo/Group Performance: "Jolene," Pentatonix featuring Dolly Parton
Country Song: "Humble and Kind," Lori McKenna (performed by Tim McGraw)
Country Album: "A Sailor's Guide to Earth," Sturgill Simpson
American Roots Song: "Kid Sister," Vince Gill, songwriter (performed by The Time Jumpers)
Bluegrass Album: "Coming Home," O'Connor Band with Mark O'Connor
Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song: "Thy Will," Hillary Scott and the Scott Family; Bernie Herms, Hillary Scott & Emily Weisband, songwriters
Contemporary Christian Music Album: "Love Wins," Hillary Scott and the Scott Family
Classical Instrumental Solo: "Daugherty: Tales Of Hemingway," Zuill Bailey; Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor (Nashville Symphony)
Classical Compendium: "Daugherty: Tales Of Hemingway"; "American Gothic"; "Once Upon A Castle"; Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer
Contemporary Classical Composition: "Daugherty: Tales Of Hemingway"; Michael Daugherty, composer (Zuill Bailey, Giancarlo Guerrero and Nashville Symphony)
Roots Gospel Album: “Hymns,” Joey + Rory
Best Song Written for Visual Media: "Can't Stop the Feeling!" Max Martin, Shellback & Justin Timberlake, songwriters
Read more Grammy Awards coverage:
Sturgill Simpson: The Grammys' man of mystery
Grammys 2017: Sturgill Simpson wins best country album
Rory Feek gives emotional speech after win
A Grammys sweep for Nashville Symphony
Lori McKenna wins Best Country Song
Hillary Scott & Scott Family accept early Grammy Awards
Photos: Stars hit the 2017 Grammys red carpet
2017 Grammy Awards: Adele takes song, record and album of the year
Photos: 2017 Grammy Awards show
Grammys 2017: Beyonce urges to 'learn from the past' in speech
Keith Urban at Grammys: “Carrie Underwood, I’m gonna be your fighter”
Grammys 2017: Maren Morris wins first Grammy
Grammys 2017: Kelsea Ballerini, Lukas Graham perform