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Trevor Noah: Photos From the Billboard Cover Shoot

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When asked to describe how he felt hosting the 63rd annual Grammy Awards in March 2021, Trevor Noah has trouble choosing just one word — but he lands on “intrigued.”

It was his first time hosting, and a year of other big firsts, too: Ben Winston’s first year executive-producing the broadcast and the first time in the Grammys’ six-decade history that a pandemic had upended the show. At the Los Angeles Convention Center, guests of honor were masked and seated at socially distanced tables of two. Shrubbery and patio lights added warmth to the usually sterile space, as the limited in-person audience — almost exclusively nominees — offered much-quieter-than-usual applause for the global superstars who took home awards, like Megan Thee Stallion, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish.

Yet the night’s limitations also yielded other exciting firsts, like watching Harry Styles cheer and whistle for Eilish during her performance of “Everything I Wanted” and seeing Bad Bunny gyrate along to Dua Lipa’s “Levitating.” “Nobody knew what was happening, and yet everybody was trying to create a semblance of normalcy,” Noah recalls. “It felt cavernous. There’s no crowd. You would think it would be awkward — but it became less awkward. It became intimate.”

This year will be Noah’s third consecutive time hosting, and he says that experience, too, has made the monumental awards show feel closer to normal — so much so that he has updated his one-word descriptor of the gig from “intrigued” to “celebratory.”

Read the full cover story for Billboard’s Grammy Voter Guide here.

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