Grammys Add Changes to Classical, Jazz, Latin Fields

Friday, June 08, 2012 - 05:38 PM

A year after the Grammy Awards cut 31 categories, sparking protests and a lawsuit by Latin jazz musicians, the music organization has made more changes by adding three awards, including the reinstatement of best Latin jazz album.

The Recording Academy announced Friday in a statement to The Associated Press that the upcoming Grammys will feature 81 categories. It reduced the number from 109 to 78 last year.

New entries include awards for best urban contemporary album - to honor R&B albums that may include elements of pop and rock - and best classical compendium to highlight albums "involving a mixture of classical subgenres."

The Academy shook up the music industry when it announced in April 2011 that it would downsize its categories to make the awards more competitive. That meant eliminating categories by sex, so men and women compete in the same vocal categories.

But it also eliminated other niche fields and created broader ones.

Some artists protested the change and others - including Herbie Hancock, Paul Simon and Bill Cosby - complained. The group that filed a lawsuit, which was dismissed in April, was led by Bobby Sanabria, the Grammy-nominated Latin jazz musician who accused the Academy of not following the proper procedures to implement the changes. Part of the class-action lawsuit called for the reinstatement of the best Latin jazz album award.

That award was consolidated, making Latin jazz musicians compete against a larger group of artists in the best jazz instrumental category at the 54th Grammys, which were held in February.

"Every year we want to look at these objectively and make a good musical decision and not be influenced by politics and pressure," Neil Portnow, the president and CEO of the Recording Academy, said in an interview. "I will say it's incredibly unfortunate that a very small group chose to voice their discontent with a lawsuit that had no basis."

He continued: "Not only is it distracting from a time standpoint, but it costs a great deal of money to have to defend something that we knew was completely defensible."

The new decisions were made at the Academy's annual Board of Trustees meeting last month.

Roger Maldonado, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Sanabria and others, said he was elated at the reinstatement of the Latin jazz category.

"I want to thank the academy for having the maturity to make the decision despite a yearlong fight," he said. While Maldonado had filed notice of appeal for the lawsuit, he expected the legal battle would now end.

"We didn't sue for money, we sued for reinstatement of the award. That has happened I see no reason for continuing the lawsuit," he said. "Instead my clients can stop worrying about this and instead focus on preparing and recording music for consideration of the Latin jazz award."

Other changes include splitting up the best Latin pop, rock or urban album honor into two awards, now known as best Latin pop album and best Latin rock, urban or alternative album. However, the best Banda or Norteno album and best regional Mexican or Tejan album have been combined into one award: best regional Mexican music album.

Portnow says a number of proposals were filed, noting that "the volume was definitely up" this year compared to past ones.

"I don't hold anything against the Latin jazz community for the passion that they have for their music," he said. "The (Latin jazz) community put a good proposal together this year, and we see the results of that."

Maldonado said he hoped that the academy would reconsider the reinstatement at other categories at some point as well. But he called the decisions a victory for his clients.

"For them, it's vindication not of the lawsuit but of their belief in the music, which is wonderful," he said.

The 55th Grammy Awards will air on CBS on Feb. 10.

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By By MESFIN FEKADU. AP Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.

 

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Comments [1]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

THE GRAMMYS ONCE MEANT SOMETHING, REAL TALENT AND TRAINING AND SUPERIOR MUSIC.
NOWADAYS ITS POLITICAL AND REACHES DOWN TO THE LOWEST DENOMINATOR. CLASSICAL ARTISTS ARE LISTED IN A SNAKE TRAVELING FAST AT THE VERY CLOSE OF THE PROGRAM. THE SO-CALLED SINGERS ARE MORE SPEAKERS THAN SINGERS AND THEIR VOCAL TIMBRES ARE SIMILARLY UNDISTINGUISHED. The New York City Opera because of the Koch brothers taking over the former State Theater of Lincoln Center appears to be forced to go under. Their orchestra also was one of the best. If young singers have no place to prepare for the big time except to sing in smaller European opera houses, where the interest there is to help their own citizen, then BIG TIME STUPIDITY HAS TAKEN OVER OUR "CULTURE." What is the point of reducing our so called spending budgets to the point where nothing of value exists in the USA? My cousin MICHAEL BLANKFORT wrote both the books and screenplays for the 1953 film THE JUGGLER Hollywood film made in Israel starring KIRK DOUGLAS and the 1950 Hollywood film BROKEN ARROW starring JAMES STEWART and JEFF CHANDLER [Cochise]. The music for THE JUGGLER was composed by opera composer GEORGE ANTHEIL, in whose opera VOLPONE I sang the tenor leading role [Mosca] in its professional world premiere in NEW YORK in 1953. ANTHEIL, famous for his opera TRANSATLANTIC and BALLET MECHANIQUE looked exactly like Peter Lorre. I am a romantischer heldentenor. I have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I opened my three hour concert with the Invocazione di Orfeo from Jacopo Peri's opera EURIDICE composed in 1600, the first opera, composed in the same year as Shakespeare wrote HAMLET. It, and from the same concert, can be heard my singing Florestan's "Gott, welch Dunkel hier ! from Beethoven's FIDELIO and "Sound an Alarm" from Handel's JUDAS MACXCABAEUS in the live performance on my three websites, www.WagnerOpera.com, , www.ShakespeareOpera.com, and
www.RichardWagnerMusicDramaInstitute.com. It received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines. My voice teachers were the legendary MET OPERA singers Alexander Kipnis, Friedrich Schorr, Frieda Hempel, Martial Singher, John Brownlee, Karin Branzell and Margarete Matzenauer. As an opera composer myself ["Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare"] I fully comprehend the assumed urgency of recognition of the still living. I am the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute in Boonton, NJ where I train actors in all the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers in all the Wagner opera roles. My singing of TRISTAN, GOTTERDAMMERUNG SIEGFRIED, SIEGFRIED, SIEGMUND, RIENZI, LOHENGRIN, WALTHER VON STOLZING PARSIFAL, ELEAZAR, FEDERICO, ORFEO and OTELLO can also be heard at RECORDED SELECTIONS on the

Dec. 25 2012 11:44 PM

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