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PORTSIDE  November 2011, Week 5

PORTSIDE November 2011, Week 5

Subject:

Fury over 'racist' cut in number of Grammy awards

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Date:

Wed, 30 Nov 2011 22:14:15 -0500

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text/plain (104 lines)

Fury over 'racist' cut in number of Grammy awards

Thirty-one categories, including Latin jazz, no longer
rate a music gong

JONATHAN OWEN   
SUNDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2011

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/fury-over-racist-cut-in-number-of-grammy-awards-6268643.html

Nominations for the next round of Grammys, which will be
announced this week, will be the most controversial in the
award's 50-year history, amid angry accusations of racism
and insensitivity. Some of the most respected musicians in
the world are demanding that the cut in the number of
gongs be reversed.

Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Simon and Herbie
Hancock are among former Grammy winners who have attacked
the awards' organisers over the controversial decision.
Entire genres of music will have disappeared when the
latest nominations are announced in Los Angeles on
Wednesday. Music artists such as Bono and Sting are being
increasingly criticised for not speaking out about the
issue.

The move by the National Academy of Recording Arts &
Sciences (Naras) means there will be only 78 awards up for
grabs when the Grammy winners are announced next February
- down from 109 last year.

Previous gongs for Hawaiian, Native American and Cajun
music now come under one "regional roots" award.
Contemporary and traditional blues have been merged into
blues, and Latin music categories have gone from seven
categories to four, with Latin jazz dropped entirely.

The decision to cut 30 per cent of the awards has been
branded racist by, among others, Santana, who asked: "Why
do they cut only this music? Why not other music? I think
they're racist... You can't eliminate black gospel music
or Hawaiian music or American Indian music or Latin jazz
music, because all this music represents what the United
States is: a social experiment."

The singer and guitarist Bonnie Raitt, winner of nine
Grammys, said: "The diversity found in Latin jazz, Cajun
and zydeco music, Hawaiian music and Native American
music, among the 31 categories lost, is an important part
of our heritage, and should be recognised as such by the
academy."

Another Grammy winner, Paul Simon, slammed the move as a
"disservice to many talented musicians".

A legal battle is now under way, with Latin jazz musicians
Bobby Sanabria, Mark Levine, Ben Lapidus and Eugene Marlow
suing the organisers of the Grammys for scrapping the
Latin jazz category and "devaluing" the genre.

Sanabria told The Independent on Sunday last night: "When
you notice that more than 70 per cent of the categories
that have been cut are racially or ethnically based, then
you have to say something. People at the academy are so
culturally insensitive that they don't know what they've
done is racist. But it is. I was hoping that people like
Sting and Bono would rally and say something, but they
haven't. People don't say anything when it doesn't affect
them."

In a statement on its website, Naras claims its decision
was motivated by a desire for fairness. "A great deal of
research, discussion and evaluation led to a call for
change, embracing the idea that a transformation of the
entire awards structure would ensure that each genre would
be treated in parity to others."

But the academy is under mounting pressure from a campaign
that is gaining momentum, with thousands signing up to a
petition by grammywatch.org demanding that the decision be
reversed. Earlier this month, the San Francisco Arts
Commission unanimously passed a resolution backing the
call - describing the lost categories as "music genres
that are truly reflective of the contemporary musical
landscape and cultural diversity of the United States".

___________________________________________

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and to change it.

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