The Grammy awards have long been the kind of thing that one simply has to deal with if you're going to approach music under capitalism.
It comes wrapped in all the elitism, commerce and segregation that necessarily has to accompany the music industry, but it's still something of a great salt lake for any artist — even those who are the most socially conscious — if they want to navigate the most treacherous waters of their craft.
Like any money-making venture, it can be just as susceptible to public pressure as it is to the forces of the market.
When they cut 31 categories — all in some way related to the US’s wide diversity of ethnic and national groups — it was responding to the forces of commerce.
When it narrowly declined to reverse that decision recently, it was responding to pressure — particularly coming from the Latin jazz community.
It’s for this exact purpose that the site GrammyWatch.org has been set up.
Featured on the site are updates on actions planned by various music advocacy and musicians' rights groups, as well as ways informing readers how to get in touch with the folks behind the Grammys to vent their own displeasure.
The importance of this fight can't be overstated. The US's own musical heritage is incredibly rich.
GrammyWatch.org explains: "Despite its name, Latin Jazz — a direct evolution of Afro-Cuban Jazz also born in New York City — IS an American Music, established and recorded in the U.S. several years before R&B, Bluegrass, and Rock & Roll, all three in turn each sharing some common roots in Afro-Latin/Caribbean traditions, as does Jazz and even Hip Hop."
Denying these genres and styles a category is to completely short-change all US music, and to defer necessarily to a Eurocentric view of musical evolution.
It's racist. Straight up.
I am proud to be on the list of signatories for the petition urging reinstatement. You can also rest assured that unless the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences reverses their decision, this blog will happily join the forces calling for a boycott.
[Reprinted from Alexander Billet's blog, www.rebelfrequencies.blogspot.com .]