Last Updated on March 4, 2021 by Scott Shetler
2021 Best R&B Performance Grammy Nominees:
• Lightning & Thunder, Jhene Aiko & John Legend
• Black Parade, Beyonce
• All I Need, Jacob Collier featuring Mahalia & Ty Dolla Sign
• Goat Head, Brittany Howard
• See Me, Emily King
As the top nominee at this year’s Grammy Awards, Beyonce is the heavy favorite to walk away as the big winner of the ceremony. Bey is up for 9 awards, bringing her career total to 79 nominations – just one behind her husband for the record of most nominations in Grammy history!
“Black Parade” only got to #37 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it was hugely impactful. The song celebrates Black culture and raised awareness and money for Black-owned businesses following the George Floyd protests this summer. It’s also a contender for Song and Record of the Year.
Surprisingly, Beyonce has only won this award once. That’s the same number of wins as her sister, Solange! Bey triumphed in 2015 for “Crazy in Love” and had not been nominated again in this category until now.
Can anyone beat Beyonce in the Best R&B Performance category? There are two contenders: Brittany Howard and the team of Jhene Aiko and John Legend.
“Lightning & Thunder” shows why the recording Academy loves Aiko so much. She isn’t a belter, but her gentle, soothing vocals carry the track, and her interplay with Legend, another Academy darling, is gorgeous to hear. It wasn’t released as a single, however, so it doesn’t have the name recognition that “Black Parade” does. Legend has won 11 Grammys and is universally liked, so he and Aiko will earn a lot of votes.
Howard, meanwhile, is more of a rocker. The Alabama Shakes singer has scored numerous Grammy nods in her career, but this is her first in an R&B category. “Goat Head” is a beautiful, piano-based tune that shows off Howard’s soulful side. The big question is how much support Howard will receive in the R&B field since she’s known as a rock singer.
The other two nominees figure to have less chance of winning. Emily King isn’t well-known to mainstream pop fans, but she’s earned three Grammy noms in the R&B categories. The acoustic guitar-driven “See Me” was written in response to the Black Lives Matter protests. It’s a pretty song, but probably doesn’t stand much of a chance to beat out “Black Parade.”
Finally, Jacob Collier is the unknown guy who earned that shocking Album of the Year nomination. Collier is nominated with Mahalia and Ty Dolla Sign for “All I Need,” an appealing tune with a lively groove that seems to have unconsciously lifted the keyboard riff from Roger Voudouris’ forgotten 1979 hit “Get Used To It.”
Best R&B Performance Prediction
If Chloe x Halle’s “Do It” had been nominated here, it would’ve had a real shot to win. But that didn’t happen, so Beyonce is the heavy favorite.
Ultimately, while some Grammy voters may be tired of Beyonce winning everything, they have to acknowledge the impact and significance that “Black Parade” had on Black culture. It was a powerful song from a powerhouse artist. Howard and Aiko/Legend can’t be ruled out, but our prediction is that Beyonce earns her second win in this category.
2021 Grammy Awards: Best R&B Performance Prediction
Deserves to win: Black Parade, Beyonce
Will win: Black Parade, Beyonce
Should have been nominated: Do It, Chloe x Halle
See also our complete list of 2021 Grammy predictions. And here’s a list of every Best Contemporary R&B Album nominee and winner in history.