According to the LA Times, executives of the recording academy board of trustees have just denounced Neil Portnow’s (Grammy President and Chief Executive) decision to add more categories to the Grammy Awards, in order to keep up with the ever-changing music world. Not only they did not agree with adding categories but they want to eliminate a few of them.
Bobby Sanabria, a four-time Grammy nominee, is leading a coalition of artists to reverse this plan to eliminate more than 30 categories from the Grammy Awards, a move that would bring the number of awards from 109 to 78. The academy would also erase any category that receives fewer than 25 entries for 3 consecutive years, transferring these submissions into the next most appropriate category. Many so-called black music categories would be erased as many genres such as R&B, blues and roots would have their number of awards reduced from 8 to 4.
‘They are clearly sending a message –- a coded message –- that they do not want cultural diversity at the Grammys, if we are going to just look at one community, the African American communities were devastated. They took away Cajun music, traditional blues and contemporary blues, zydeco, contemporary gospel, contemporary R&B gospel [both gospel and American roots were both consolidated to five awards].’
‘How much more competitive can it be? He told us that people have complained that it’s too easy to get a Grammy. You ask anybody that has a Grammy how hard it is to get one, I have four nominations and I’ve been a member for over 15 years, and just the nominations within itself is a supreme honor. It changes people’s careers. It changed mine.’
The protest has already started in New York on Sunday and in Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon, and Sanabria stated in a letter:
‘Executives of the Academy have told us that it is necessary to erase and 'consolidate' these categories because 'the Grammies [sic] have become a huge collage.' The implication of this outrageous and blatantly racist justification is that it is necessary to disenfranchise Latinos, Native Americans, and other minorities for the good of the Academy. This is utter nonsense. The Academy was created to promote and ensure diversity and excellence in the recordings arts. The collage is our strength, not a weakness.’
The letter was signed by more than 30 artists, and among them were the signatures of Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Paul Simon, Andy Garcia and John Santos.
In a way, I can relate, some aging administrative people completely out of touch with reality, and taking stupid decisions. Why is it bad to have a lot of categories? But at the same time, it is harder and harder to categorize music and it seems sometimes arbitrary to put one album in one genre rather than another. But reducing the number of awards will considerably reduce the chances of unknown artists put in the same category than mainstream stars.
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