Protests today at The Grammys

There has been a notable amount of pushback following the July 2011 decision by the Grammy folks to consolidate the number of awards to be meted out at today’s (2/12) Grammy Awards festivities. Both longstanding and relatively new categories were combined, and some simply eliminated from the polling.

Last Thursday, a stack of petitions were delivered to the headquarters of the Recording Academy. These contained what were claimed to be 23,000 signatures from folks insisting that the 31 categories removed from this year’s awards be reinstated. In addition, protests are planned for this afternoon and evening outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, from whence the televised program will originate this evening.

Though not a big story outside the music press, it’s being covered widely Los Angeles, and a representative from prominent roots/acoustic label Rounder Records was quoted in yesterday’s LA Times regarding the controversy.

“I’ve been a member of the Recording Academy since the early 1980s, and I think they do their best to get it right in an increasingly fragmented musical world,” said Scott Billington, vice president of artists and repertoire at Rounder Records, an independent label whose recordings have often appeared in categories that were eliminated or absorbed into larger ones this year. “It may be tough to swallow a couple of these things. It does seem a little bizarre to have Hawaiian records competing with polka” in the new regional roots music album category. “But I think it’s a tough thing for the Recording Academy to come up with a good way to organize it. It’s not an easy task.”

Two rescinded categories of particular note to bluegrass recording artists were the Country Instrumental Award, which regularly featured bluegrass nominees, and the Gospel category, which included awards for both bluegrass and southern Gospel projects.

Fortunately, the Best Bluegrass Album survived the cut, with nominations going to:

  • Paper Airplane – Alison Krauss & Union Station
  • Reason And Rhyme: Bluegrass Songs By Robert Hunter & Jim Lauderdale – Jim Lauderdale
  • Rare Bird Alert – Steve Martin And The Steep Canyon Rangers
  • Old Memories: The Songs of Bill Monroe – The Del McCoury Band
  • A Mother’s Prayer – Ralph Stanley
  • Sleep With One Eye Open – Chris Thile & Michael Daves

The Bluegrass Grammy will be awarded in the Pre-Telecast Ceremony which will be streamed live from the Grammy web site beginning at 4:00 p.m. (EST).

Best of luck to all of the nominees!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.