Bay Area Musicians Decry Elimination Of Grammy Categories

OAKLAND (KCBS) – The Bay Area is home to some of the world’s best jazz musicians, not to mention scores of jazz fans. The local music scene has been buzzing as of late, but not necessarily because of the smooth sounds and rhythmic beats emanating from instruments and microphones.

Rather, plenty of folks are fuming over a recent decision by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, NARAS, to eliminate more than 30 music categories from consideration at the annual Grammy Awards.

KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

“We’re proud and honored to continue the Grammy legacy of recognizing excellence in recorded music,” emphasized NARAS president and CEO Neil Portnow, as he recently announced the total number of categories recognized at the next awards ceremony would be reduced from 109 to 78.

Latin jazz, contemporary jazz, zydeco, polka, traditional world music, traditional blues and several Mexican and gospel categories were dropped from consideration.

It’s the wrong decision, as far as Latin jazz composer and Bay Area Grammy nominee Wayne Wallace is concerned.

“When does a genre stop being a genre?” he asked. “I’m still pondering the logic in dropping the Best Latin Jazz Recording category, along with the other thirty categories from the Grammys.”

Wallace was among the NARAS voting members who took part in a news conference Monday at the legendary Oakland jazz club Yoshi’s, speaking out against Portnow’s plan.

Musicians vowed to go viral with a newly-formed group, Grammy Watch.

“And we’ll do everything in our power, including denouncements of this travesty at every presentation we make, at every class we teach, and at every interview we give,” promised five-time Grammy nominee, percussionist John Santos. “We’ll call for an international boycott of the Grammy telecast and of all its advertisers.”

The Grammy Watch musicians emphasized they simply want NARAS to reverse course and restore all of the categories to the annual awards show.

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  • Adrian Smith

    Maybe a compromise would be to keep the awards but just not include them in the award show. Nobody watches those segments anyway.

  • Chris Ortega

    Why is’ent Hip-Hop,R&B and Rap in one categories?This is WRONG to take out music that alot of people love….All musicans besides myself work very hard to be given the chance to receve an honor from the grammy’s …..Ive play the drums for over 47 years and this is sad news to here…Sorry to all the hard working musicans out trying to make it big.Hang in there as well as my-self.

  • Stephen Hart

    I hope that the “Grammy Watch” musicians attend the Grammy 101 presentation
    and Q & A, so they may understand the true nature of the change.
    Stephen Hart – past President of the SF Chapter and current National Trustee

    • john calloway

      Stephen – Thank you! We did. I don’t know if it changed any mines, but we were still happy to get their viewpoint.

  • Grammy Watch

    See the Letter from Carlos Santana in solidarity against NARAS’ cuts to the Grammy Categories:

  • » Articles and Broadcast links: Press Conference and Protests to NARAS Grammy Cuts Grammy Watch

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  • John Connor

    Is the point of making music really for the chance to get acclaim? I’m sorry but it’s the fans of your music that make you important and relevant, not some trophy given by a small group of voting members.
    Yes, it can cause a spike in record sales so in essence, the Grammys are a marketing tool. It represents the business of making music. Remember, award shows are not really about honoring artists, that is just a side effect. It is about making more money for the producers. Selling more albums and making rich people richer.

  • Stephen Hart

    John, thank you. I appreciate the post. I don’t know if we changed any minds either but at the least there is a deeper understanding of the process. What we all love is music and the power of music. The Grammy doesn’t define a culture or genre, it is a little statue, I hope that the gentleman who brought the student band is reading this thread because I felt badly for those kids. Learning to play music and carry forward the art form of Latin Jazz or any genre has nothing to do Grammy’s, Latin Music Awards or anything else other than the love of playing and sharing your creation.It would be a great loss if they gave up their music studies because of a statue. So, if you know these kids please don’t let them be discouraged, they need to know that a Grammy in no way defines who they are or has anything to do with their musical lives
    I will add to the last comment posted regarding the rich getting richer. NARAS is a not for profit organization. The governing body, the Board of Trustees, is a volunteer group and we put in a lot of time to define and execute the path of the Academy for the enrichment of the music community at large. There is no salary at all. Our award does spike sales for artists, but the money that we generate from the Broadcast goes right back into education, advocacy for musicians rights, into Musicares to assist musicians in dire need. The Grammy is truly an award that honors artists for excellence, and that award is voted on by a group of their peers (active music professionals) that exceeds 10,000 people. So, yes some artists will become richer, but the Academy is not for profit.

  • Ted

    Yes, every year I look forward to the always hotly-contested polka category.

  • » “Fire On The Bayou”: Cajun – Zydeco Music Community Sounds Off at ‘Grammy 101′ Meeting in Louisiana Grammy Watch

    […] In San Francisco, bandleader John Santos and the Latin Jazz community also expressed on TV, Radio, and local newspapers their solidarity with Cajun & Zydeco musicians and all the music […]

  • playamoth

    Time marches on and the music never stops. Peoples taste in music change as the music changes itself. The Grammys is not perfect. To call for a boycott of the event and its advertisers is a stretch. There is the Latin Grammys anyway. Every country will have their own version of their Grammys. I’ve even wondered why the NARAS is keeping a lot of their categories when it does not reflect the times anymore. I look at this as a brave move and hopefully we’ll see the Grammys as a real reflection of the realities in the music business, less and less records and more and more downloads.

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