On April 6, 2011, the Recording Academy announced its decision to consolidate Grammy Awards categories from 109 to 78, leaving more artists of color competing for fewer Awards. Outside of the Grammy Awards ceremony on Sunday were demonstrators calling on the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARA) to reinstate the 31 categories.
The castaway categories 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, citing duplicate categories in the Latin Grammy Awards ceremony and the English-language awards.
The three R&B vocal performance awards for males, females and groups have been merged into a single R&B performance award.
The irony is that of Whitney Houston’s 6 Grammys, 4 were won in now-eliminated categories: Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (awards 1-3), and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (6).
(The Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album that Whitney’s mother, Emily “Cissy” Houston, won two Grammys in has also been eliminated.)
“The Grammys have taken the route of greed and inequity,” Roberto Lovato, co-founder of the Latino advocacy group presente.org, told Colorlines.com “Greed and inequity is not what gave birth to Whitney Houston who started off as a gospel singer, one of the categories eliminated. We’re happy that she’s being embraced, but we also embrace Whitney Houston as one of our own. She started in our communities, in our churches, in our neighborhoods before she entered the limelight of the Grammys.”
After the demonstration outside of the Grammy ceremony organizers held a concert at nearby at Mama Juana’s nightclub in Studio City. The concert featured music representatives of the 31 genres eliminated.
Latin jazz artist and educator Bobby Matos, the spokesperson for the Los Angeles GRAMMY Watch Group who organized the event, said: “We are holding this concert to remind music fans about all the great music that has been eliminated from the Grammys.”
“To paraphrase what Frank Sinatra said at the first Grammy Awards in 1959, ‘Remember, the awards are about excellence, not popularity.’ It is part of NARAS’ mission to support the diversity of all American music. The current NARAS administration, under Neil Portnow, is failing that one. The category cuts NARAS made in 2011 eliminated from this year’s awards many of the genres that are the roots of American popular music.”