Protest the Grammys!
Reinstate the Musical Categories now!
Music Rights is Our Fight!
Sunday, February 12, 2012
3:30pm until 5:00pm
corner of Figueroa and W. Pico Blvd
Downtown Los Angeles, CA
Grammywatch.org and Presente.org invite you to join us in a protest to
demand that the Grammys reinstate the 31, mostly Latino, Black, Asian and
Native American categories.
Come Support Musicians — Blues, Mexican, Latin Jazz, Gospel, Cajun,
Native American, Hawaiian, others — fighting for music justice!
Join us in sending a message to Grammy President Neil Portnow and the
Grammy Board and Demand that they Reinstate the Musical Categories now!
Bring your instruments and play with us…
Following the protest, come listen to the music the actual music the
Grammys wants to stop recognizing.
Alternative Grammy Party
Mama Juana’s Latin Lounge
3707 Cahuenga Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90068
We Want Latin Music
Fully Recognized at the Grammys
To sign petition, click here
Insiders at the Recording Academy quietly eliminated 31 categories of
awards from the Grammys this year, at least 15 of them which are received
predominantly by people of color.
Awards for Latin Jazz, Regional Mexican, Banda, Tejano, and Norteño
music, all central to Latino culture, were eliminated or consolidated.
Awards for Native American, Hawaiian, and Cajun music were eliminated
Musicians like Carlos Santana, Ruben Blades, and Bobby Sanabria have all
come out under the umbrella of grammywatch.org against these changes,
some even calling them racist. As tens of millions prepare to watch the
Grammys, let’s show the Recording Academy just how many fans the music
they refuse to recognize has. Sign this petition so that we can get these
categories reinstated by next year.
Tell Recording Academy President Neil Portnow:
It is unacceptable for the Grammys to cease to honor categories of music
that are an important part of our heritage and culture.
We’re joining musicians like Carlos Santana, Ruben Blades and Bobby
Sanabria in demanding that the Recording Academy reinstate awards that
are received predominantly by musicians of color and which are relied
upon by thousands of music professionals for their livelihood.
Please work to reinstate these awards as soon as possible.
To sign petition, click here
the Rev. Jesse Jackson,
Dr. Cornel West and
in Fight to Restore Music
and Cultural Diversity to the Grammys
Presente.org (February 3, 2012)
San Francisco, CA — Presente.org, the largest online Latino advocacy
organization in the nation, with a growing membership of more than
250,000, announced today that it will join the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Carlos
Santana, Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock, Bill Cosby, Ruben Blades, Bonnie
Dr. Cornel West and Grammywatch.org, in their fight to demand that the
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) immediately
restore all 31 Grammy categories that it eliminated last April.
NARAS, the producers of the Grammys, made the decision to eliminate these
categories, comprised mostly of ethnic music, without the knowledge of or
input from the organization’s 21,000 members or their elected
representatives; and, in so doing and by failing to apply the new
eligibility criteria in a non-discriminatory manner, violated NARAS’ own
bylaws and procedures.
The Grammys will air its annual show on CBS, on Sunday, February 12. Some
of the eliminated categories include: Latin Jazz, Traditional and
Contemporary Blues, Cajun/Zydeco, Contemporary and Traditional Jazz,
Polka, Mexican Norteña, Native American, Gospel, R & B and Hawaiian
Presente.org Executive Director, Arturo Carmona, said: “Neil Portnow and
the big bosses at the Grammys, have committed a deplorable act of greed
and racial discrimination by deleting music categories that are so
central to the lives of so many. Portnow and the Grammys have nothing to
celebrate, and deserve a lifetime achievement award for putting profit
over people. We are honored and highly motivated to join the fight to
re-institute the deleted categories, on behalf of the millions who love
Latin Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Cajun/Zydeco, Jazz, R & B, Mexican Norteña and
other musical genres.”
In the coming days, as NARAS prepares to celebrate the Grammys,
Presente.org and its allies will take actions to educate the larger
community about the discrimination and greed that drove NARAS to delete
the music categories. NARAS was established decades ago specifically to
honor the work of all artists, who contribute pridefully and passionately
to the unique rhythms and sounds of American music. These hostile actions
by NARAS represent yet another clear example of the oppressive climate
surrounding Latinos, African Americans and other groups in the US.
With more than a quarter million members, Presente.org is a major
national organization dedicated to amplifying the political voices of
Latino communities in the United States.
For further information:
Rafael Noboa y Rivera, 202.455.4673
Blair Fitzgibbon, 202.503.6141
Elimination of categories robs Grammys of diversity and creativity
By John Santos
San Jose Mercury News (February 1, 2012)
As the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) inundates
the membership with nomination and voting materials and invitations to
the big event and its many related parties, the public is treated to a
classic full-press corporate campaign on TV, radio, print and social
But this year NARAS’ brilliant Grammy image has a dark secret. All the
smiling faces and multimillion dollar sets cannot hide the fact that a
few months ago the organization unceremoniously eliminated 31 categories
from Grammy consideration. It is particularly disgraceful that the
nonprofit organization — one that’s supposed to honor excellence in our
country’s music and advocate for its membership — lopped off categories
that represent some of our most creative “roots” genres and what ethnic
diversity the Grammys might claim.
The corporate music industry, which makes the lion’s share of the profits
generated by musicians and the Grammys, appears to be fully supportive of
NARAS’ narrow-mindedness. The Jan. 7 special issue of Billboard Magazine
is nothing but Grammy propaganda, with full-page ads congratulating the
stars and the newest hopefuls backed with huge promotional dollars for
their nominations. There’s not a single mention of the missing categories
nor the growing international uproar condemning NARAS’ actions.
On top of it all, NARAS has the gall to announce the induction of Big
Bill Broonzy, Sergio Mendes’ Brasil ’66, and the Rev. Martin Luther King
Jr. into the Grammy Hall of Fame at the same time that it is cutting down
the blues categories, eliminating Latin jazz (Sergio’s 1966 group would
not be eligible with this year’s eliminations), cutting down gospel and
R&B, and eliminating contemporary jazz.
A well-intentioned writer points out in Billboard, “This crop of
inductees also fleshes out the story of Latin music in America.”
Actually, it does anything but that, though he does make the point that ”
… the rich and far reaching legacy created by Latin musicians … often
gets lumped into one catchall category … .” Which is, of course,
exactly what NARAS has done with the 2012 awards, by eliminating the
Latin jazz and traditional world music categories, and combining certain
While NARAS officials write in Billboard about education and social
strategy, they fail to see the hypocrisy and the ramifications of
disenfranchising entire communities from the Grammy process. The cuts
compromise not only the artists’ earning capabilities but also the
businesses and schools that present and teach the various types of music.
Marginalizing their musical expression also carries repercussions that
are even deeper than the immediate economic hits. Young people who have
spent years studying these genres and have been taught to see music with
a broad perspective are now confronted with the further invalidation of
noncommercial music. It is also devastating to teachers like me who have
spent our lives trying to give students rich alternatives to the Top 40
mentality spoon-fed to them via mass media at every moment.
NARAS claims the eliminated categories were cheapening the value of the
Grammy award and statue, but I say it’s done that with its own actions.
The members say anyone can submit a nomination, but what’s the point of
competing in a category that isn’t relevant and where the voting
membership does not know our music? For example, Latin Jazz is performed
by any size group, from duos to big band. The only category that even
crosses into this area now is Big Band Jazz, where duos, trios, quartets,
quintets, sextets, septets, etc., cannot apply. And if your Latin Jazz
project does happen to be a big band format, then you’re competing
against our national art form — and basically have a snowball’s chance
in hell of winning.
For me, this is also personal. My five nominations over a 40-year career
were in three categories that have all been eliminated. I’ve been a NARAS
member for some 25 years, supporting the organization with yearly dues
and doing volunteer work for Grammys in the Schools programs. For years,
I lobbied and wrote letters, attended countless meetings and had many a
phone conversation with various administration and staff officials about
how to improve the organization. While the progress has been slow, at
least it was progress — until now. This disrespectful mandate sets the
organization, civil rights, and creative expression back several decades.
If this were not enough, many staff and administrators are quietly
admitting the move was a mistake, yet they refuse to acknowledge or
correct it. Perhaps they hope that since those who value those categories
appear to be relatively few, we will just disappear behind the glitz and
glamour of the Grammy machine. But we don’t plan to let that happen. And
we hope you will help us let NARAS, CBS and the Grammys advertisers know
how we feel.
Among those who have already publicly condemned NARAS’ actions are the
San Francisco Art Commission, Herbie Hancock, Eddie Palmieri, Paul Simon
(also inducted into the Hall of Fame this year), Carlos Santana, Bill
Cosby, Esperanza Spalding, Bonnie Raitt, Stanley Clarke, David Amram,
Pete Escovedo, Oscar Hernandez and Larry Harlow.
We hope anyone who feels strongly about maintaining any semblance of
diversity and who understands what the threat of capitalism-gone-berserk
in the music business means to artistic freedom and creativity will join
us by posting on the Internet and writing letters to the appropriate
parties. We are extremely encouraged already by the continued
international support and this week’s news that both the Rev. Jesse
Jackson and Cornel West have joined our ranks.
Though we do congratulate all the nominees and winners of the 54th Grammy
Awards, we feel the telecast has been sold out in more ways than one.
When our esteemed organization violates its membership, its own mandates
and the public trust, we are all losers. Please help us get NARAS back on
track. It can be a very worthwhile organization when run it from the
heart instead of the wallet.
San Francisco native Santos is a five-time Grammy nominee, educator,
composer, producer, percussionist and bandleader.
For updates and addresses visit http://www.grammywatch.org