Brandy Clark experienced a brand new emotion on Grammy nomination morning back in November.
"I cried, and that is the first time I cried about something like that," she tells PEOPLE exclusively about her two nods for best country album and best country solo performance.
This isn't Clark's first experience as a nominee, having been up for eight total Grammys throughout her career. But the "Who I Thought I Was" singer explains what an honor it was to receive an acknowledgment after the craziness of releasing music amid a global pandemic.
"Not my first time, but definitely the most impactful time for me," she says. "We've all had to promote albums in a crazy time and pivot into no touring and doing what we do online. I think with the year we've been in, to have this album be acknowledged is really huge to me."
Check out PEOPLE's full Grammys coverage to get the latest news on music's biggest night.
Brandy Clark Shares Advice for Aspiring Queer Musicians: 'Don't Be Ashamed of Who You Are'
Her third studio album Your Life Is a Record is up against only female -—and female-fronted — acts in the best country album category. The musician reveals what it's like to be a part of this historic move alongside Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde, Ingrid Andress and the women of Little Big Town.
"It feels great. I don't know any other way to say it," she notes. "Every album in there is very deserving in and there are albums that aren't in there that deserve to be in there, too. A lot of great music came out this year and I'm really proud to have my album in amongst those other albums."
"I'm a fan of all those records and those artists and to think that my peers thought enough of me to put me in that feels great. And I do love that it's all women," she adds. "As women, I feel like we have to fight a little harder to be heard sometimes and so at least the Grammys are saying, 'We hear you.'"
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While the development is a step in the right direction, Clark believes it's not time to give up the fight for equality in country music.
"I think the conversation needs to keep happening until we don't need to have it, you know," she explains. "Ingrid and Ashley are great examples. Those are both two artists that are a little newer on the scene and had hits on country radio this year. I think that's great progress."
Why Brandy Clark Is Proud to Be a 'Real Woman'
"I probably won't be happy until it's 50-50 male, female. Sometimes as women, we're taught that there's one spot for the girl, and that needs to go away," she points out.
For the veteran singer-songwriter, who received her first Grammy nomination in 2013, it's most inspiring to be recognized as part of a group of female artists who "choose to elevate other women."
"We got to stick together. It's a diverse group and I think because you don't hear as many women on country radio, we're just kind of like, 'Well, you know what, I'm going to just make music outside the box,'" she admits. "And in my opinion, that's where a lot of the great music is made since we're not trying to make it to fit into a format, so to speak. I think that's something that most women in country music have in common."
The Grammy Awards, hosted by Trevor Noah, will air Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS Television Network and Paramount+.
PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly are also teaming up to bring you some glamour and award show speculation ahead of the Grammy Awards on Sunday, even if most of the nominees and guests will be at home wearing sweatpants.
Hosted by PEOPLE (the TV Show!) New York correspondent Jeremy Parsons and PEOPLE Every Day podcast host Janine Rubenstein, the livestream will air ahead of the award ceremony from 6:30 p.m. ET to 7:30 p.m. ET (3:30 – 4:30 p.m. PT).
The livestream will broadcast live from New York City and will feature celebrity interviews both virtual and in-person from the Grammys red carpet in Los Angeles.
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