Ten time Grammy Awards winner and guitarist Carlos Santana says the decisions made by National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to slash the number of Grammy Awards it distributes from 109 to 78 were racially motivated.
“I think they’re racist. Period. I do,” Santana said in an interview with Canadian newspaper The Providence.
His comments come after the Recording Academy’s decision in April to consolidate or eliminate music categories that mostly included artists of color. The categories eliminated include: Best Latin Jazz Album, Best Contemporary Jazz Album, Best Cajun & Zydeco Album, Best Native American Album and Best Hawaiian Music Album.
Seven Latin categories were cut to four also, citing duplicate categories in the Latin Grammy Awards ceremony and the English-language awards. Three R&B vocal performance awards for males, females and groups were also merged into a single R&B performance award.
“First of all we have so many categories of Country & Western. Country & Western people have seven to nine to 10 (awards) shows a year and you seldom see Negroes or Latin people,” Santana told The Providence. “You can’t eliminate black gospel music or Hawaiian music or American Indian music or Latin jazz music because all this music represents what United States is: a social experiment.”
Santana also went on to comment on the Academy’s decision making process.”They didn’t even tell other members, only certain people voted, overnight. A lot of people didn’t know this had passed. Quincy Jones didn’t know, Herbie Hancock didn’t know.”
“I’m not afraid if they don’t invite me again,” Santana added. “I’m not afraid to say that it’s basically racist.”