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WEPAwebTV launches campaign to reinstate Latin Grammy Category

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    [WEPAwebTV launches campaign to reinstate Latin Grammy Category] WEPAwebTV launches campaign to reinstate
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 13, 2011
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      WEPAwebTV launches campaign to reinstate Latin Grammy Category

      WEPAwebTV launches campaign to reinstate Latin Grammy Category
      If you want to support Latin Jazz as a continuing category at the Grammy's please sign this petition and let the voice of Latin Jazz be heard!

      NARAS Eliminates Latin Grammy Category

      A recent restructuring of the 54th Annual Grammy Awards has outraged many musicians, especially those connected to less commercial genres of music.

      One of the most contested decisions was the elimination of the Latin Jazz category. Beginning next year, there will no longer be a distinction between Contemporary and Latin Jazz; instead, all jazz forms will compete for the same four awards.

      The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS, or the Recording Academy) elected to consolidate awards in nearly every genre to create a more comprehensive listing.

      Neil Portnow, president and CEO of NARAS, explained that decisions to remove or combine certain categories were based on a decrease in submissions within that genre.

      "If you look at the math, let's say there are only 25 entry categories. Five of those will be nominated and one of them will get a Grammy" Portnow said. "That does not speak to the level of the award.

      "Unfortunately, the Latin Jazz category fell into that situation over the years," he added. And under the new system, it would not qualify for its own Grammy."

      The decision has not gone over well with those who believe the Grammy's have become a popularity contest and not a true measure of musical talent.

      During a town hall meeting held by NARAS in early April, opponents of the restructure – including Grammy Award - winning musician and Latin Jazz performer Eddie Palmieri – spoke out against the genre's apparent loss of recognition. The effort fell on deaf ears, they said afterward.

      "The decision was already made," said an exasperated Palmieri, adding that young players would be most affected by the consolidation. "There are no recording companies catering to Latin Jazz. These guys are scraping up pennies to record in their basements.

      "And if enough do not submit to NARAS," he continued, "they lose the genre that we have worked so hard to create."

      The inclusion of Latin music has always been an important cause for Palmieri, who in 1975 became the first musician to ever win a Grammy in a Latin music category. And while many of the changes seem practical, the removal of Latin Jazz has touched a nerve.

      "We were so happy when we finally received a category recognizing the Latin Jazz genre in the early 90s, that recognized the distinctive difference in our music," Palmieri said. "The system in place has made it impossible for our category to survive."

      Portnow, however, maintained that the process is not all about popularity or the financial bottom line.

      "These awards are based on excellence, not on marketing or sales," he insisted. "Our goal is for the music world to be healthy – for more music and great music to be made."

      Those words ring hollow for veteran talent like Palmieri, though.

      "Latin Jazz simply does not get the airplay," he explained. "Now it is all about the hit parade, and that was not the essence of NARAS when I joined. It was about who is best musically, not who was the most popular."

      Though on opposing sides, both Portnow and Palmieri agree that it is important for quality music to be recognized.

      Still, the fate of the "Best Latin Jazz Album" is sealed for 2012. A resurrection is in the hands of the industry.

      Eddie Palmieri: Loss of Latin Jazz Grammy Will Hurt Young Players

      "I was very instrumental in getting the Latin Jazz category into the awards, and its elimination is very upsetting to me," said Eddie Palmieri, a pianist and bandleader who has won nine Grammys and received 13 nominations.

      "As a member for over 20 years, it's insulting," said Grammy-nominated drummer Bobby Sanabria at a local chapter meeting of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the awards ceremony's organizing institution.

      "All of the 30 categories being cut represent the diversity of American music," he said.

      The Grammy award restructuring plan, announced earlier this month, will consolidate the number of award categories from 109 to 78.

      Male and female awards categories will be merged, and niche genres such as Hawaiian and Native American music will be eliminated.

      Academy President Neil Portnow, on hand at the midtown meeting - intended to introduce the announced changes to the organization's members - said the new rules were the result of months of careful review.

      "All of the genre fields remain - that's a important point to make here," said Portnow. "The nomination committee spent more than a year analyzing and evaluating the Grammy process and categories with great objectivity and fair-mindedness."

      The slimmed category count will make its debut at the 54th annual Grammy Awards to be held next February.


      As part of a massive overhaul, the U.S. Recording Academy has decided to drop 31 categories for the 54th Grammy Awards.

      The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences made its revamp plans official on Wednesday. In response to criticism from certain quarters in the music industry, the Academy would give away accolades for 78 categories in place of the present 109 to preserve the impact of the prestigious and envious award.

      "It ups the game in terms of what it takes to receive a Grammy," Neil Portnow, Grammy President/CEO said at the news conference in Los Angeles that was broadcast live at grammy.com.

      "Ensuring that the Grammy remains a rare and distinct honor, and continues to be music's most prestigious and only peer-recognized award." has been the chief motive, Portnow continued.

      "Every submission will continue to have a home; it just may look a little different," he added.

      The restructuring comes as a first change ever since the inception of the Grammys, 52 years back, and 2012 would just mark the beginning.

      Slash in categories
      The journey of the Grammy Awards set off with just 28 categories in 1959. New genre categories and multiple subcategories within them has elevated the number over the period.

      The move was inevitable; the superfluous number of categories in past few years "has taken away the luster off of what it means to win a Grammy".

      Nixed categories include best pop instrumental performance and country instrumental categories like Hawaiian, Zydeco/Cajun music, Polka, Light Classical, and Native American music.

      Three of the rock genre's seven accolades have been done away with. Rap has got the axe in just one category -- Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. The American Roots category had a fall from nine to five.

      However, the four major awards -- Best Record, Best Song, Album of the Year and Best New Artist -- remain untouched.

      Categories no longer gender-based
      The major change is the elimination of Male and Female segregation in R&B, pop, and country fields. There will just be one honour for "Solo" Performance and one for "Group" performance.

      "After careful and extensive review and analysis of all categories and fields, it was objectively determined that our Grammy categories be restructured to the continued competition and prestige of the highest and only peer-recognized award in music," said Portnow.

      New eligibility requirements
      The voting process has undergone a change as well.

      Aiming at a standard five-nominee group, a category must get at least 40 entries, normally the duty of record companies. If 25 to 39 entries are submitted, the category can only get 3 nominations; if submissions drop below 25, the category stands suspended for the year. Three consecutive suspensions will get the category eliminated.

      "I think the positive side is we've taken a good, serious look at what we're doing," Billboard quoted Portnow as saying, "We contemporized it, we organized it and we visioned it in a way that will suit us going into the future.

      "In other words, if you just continue business as usual, at some point, typically, you're going to hit some sort of a pothole in the road."

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