Yesterday (10/30) the Recording Academy officially began the countdown for the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards with the announcement of the nominations for the 2012 awards which will be presented on Sunday, February 12 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and once again will be broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8 – 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).
The six albums in the running for the bluegrass award are all by artists well-known in Grammy circles with Alison Krauss, Steve Martin, Ralph Stanley, Jim Lauderdale and the Del McCoury Band all being previous visitors to the winners rostrum since Bill Monroe collected the award for Southern Flavor in 1989.
The 2012 bluegrass nominees are ….
- Paper Airplane – Alison Krauss and Union Station (Rounder Records)
- Reason And Rhyme: Bluegrass Songs By Robert Hunter & Jim Lauderdale – Jim Lauderdale (Sugar Hill Records)
- Rare Bird Alert – Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers (Rounder Records)
- Old Memories: The Songs of Bill Monroe – The Del McCoury Band (McCoury Music)
- A Mother’s Prayer – Ralph Stanley (Rebel Records)
- Sleep With One Eye Open – Chris Thile & Michael Daves (Nonesuch)
Also of potential interest to the bluegrass world are the Best Americana Albums, and the nominations are ….
- Hard Bargain – Emmylou Harris (Nonesuch)
- Blessed – Lucinda Williams (Lost Highway Records)
- Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down – Ry Cooder (Perro Verde Records LLC/Nonesuch)
- Ramble At The Ryman – Levon Helm (Vanguard/Dirt Farmer Music)
- Emotional Jukebox – Linda Chorney (Dance More Less War Records)
Noted acoustic/bluegrass engineer Gary Paczosa was nominated in the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical category for the latest Sarah Jarosz album, Follow Me Down.
In April the Recording Academy announced a restructuring of categories across all genres bringing the total number of categories to be recognized at the 2012 Awards to 78 (down from 109). Although all Fields remain the same, a minimum of 40 distinct artist entries will be required in each Category (up from 25).
In addition to the restructuring of Categories, two rule changes have been established and four Fields have been renamed. It is now expected that each Category shall have at least 40 distinct artist entries, up from 25. If a Category receives between 25 – 39 entries, only three recordings would receive nominations that year. Should there be fewer than 25 entries in a Category, that Category would immediately go on hiatus for the current year — no award is given — and entries would be screened into the next most logical Category. If a Category receives fewer than 25 entries for three consecutive years, the Category would be discontinued, and submissions would be entered in the next most appropriate Category.
In Field 13 – that to which bluegrass recordings are assigned – there has been a reduction of nine categories to five, removing three ethnic categories in favour of a Regional Roots Music category.
Some folk and jazz music fans, for example, feel very unhappy and it seems to me as though we are witnessing the thin end of the wedge with these changes.
As far as bluegrass music is concerned, learned reasoning advocates a greater involvement of artists, labels and other industry professionals in the Recording Academy and its processes to ensure that the bluegrass music category doesn’t go the same way as the Zydeco or Cajun, Norteño, Latin Jazz and Contemporary Folk music categories.
The full list of categories and nominations can be found at the Grammy website.