April 30, 2011 Leave a comment


April 30, 2011


For Immediate Release
Media contact:
John Santos




Yoshi’s world famous jazz club in Oakland,California, will host a press conference by artists, presenters and media to voice opposition to the recent announcement by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) to eliminate Latin Jazz and many other styles of music from Grammy consideration.

Monday, May 9th, 2011

11:00 AM

Yoshi’s Jazz House

510 Embarcadero West

Jack London Square


contact: Peter Williams (510) 238-4555

The ill-advised early April announcement by NARAS to cut thirty-one categories  from the celebrated Grammy awards has been met with shock and loud protests nationally and internationally. Latin Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Cajun, Zydeco, Hawaiian, Polka, Traditional World, and certain gospel, Blues, R&B, and Mexican categories, among others, have all been unceremoniously dumped.

At various regional chapter meetings, NARAS has defended the cuts as being fair and well thought out, although they were made behind closed doors with no input from the membership nor from the respective boards of governors of the regional chapters, and clearly cater to the established pop and commercial styles that have always dominated the awards and it’s controversial annual TV show.

As the grassroots movement from the public sector is going viral, and the unrest and distrust from within their membership has skyrocketed from coast to coast, NARAS’ stock responses have done little to quell the groundspring of questions about their motives.

This will be the first press conference where the considerable opposition to the unprecedented, culturally insensitive decision will be made, and happens the day before the San Francisco Chapter of NARAS hosts their own “Grammy 101” conference where they will again attempt to justify the cuts. There will be brief statements presented in support of the reinstatement of the eliminated fields followed by Q&A. Among the distinguished panel of presenters will be Randall Kline (SFJAZZ), Peter Williams (Yoshi’s), moderator John Santos (five-time Grammy nominated independent producer, bandleader, record label owner, and NARAS member), Wayne Wallace (Grammy nominated bandleader, composer, educator, record label owner, and NARAS member), Jesse Varela (radio programmer, music director KCSM), Clayton Leander (radio producer KPFA), and Sandy Cressman (vocalist, educator, NARAS member).

For related background info, articles, letters to and from NARAS, growing petition with over 2000 signatures, etc please visit

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Petition to Reinstate the Grammy categories

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Sign the Petition – tell NARAS to restore the Grammy categories for Latin Jazz, World Music, Native American, Cajun/Zydeco, Hawaiian, Contemporary Jazz, Instrumental Rock, Traditional Blues, Norteno, and other regional and instrumental categories:

JOIN over 2,500 supporters who signed on demanding NARAS reverse this ill-advised action:

Petition to Reinstate Grammy Categories

(note: Donation to “” is optional, but not required to register your signature.)

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Los Angeles’ Recording Musicians Association Local 47 Opposes Grammy Changes

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

25 April 2011 – Los Angeles, CA: Convening for a General Meeting and Election, the Membership of the Recording Musicians Association of Los Angeles (RMALA) Local 47 have unanimously approved a Resolution opposing NARAS’ recent changes to the Grammy Award categories. Message from Local 47 below:

  * * * * *

The members unanimously passed a Resolution to protest the changes made by NARAS in the musical categories available for Grammy Awards. The 47 Executive Board has been directed to lodge a formal complaint, have that complaint featured in the Overture, and reach out to other AFM Locals as well as the International Board of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada in an effort to change the Grammy policy.

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Grammys Ditch the Native American Category

April 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Grammys Ditch the Native American Category

Those little trophies are heavy. They must weigh about 15 pounds, laughs Melissa Sanchez. She should know. She helped organize their arrival in Albuquerque for a presentation at the Gathering of Nations this year.

Back in in 2001, the Gathering of Nations’ compilation CD won the first Grammy ever presented for Best Native American Music Album. A decade later, it won the last.

The Recording Academy announced in early April that it was removing 31 categories from the list of awards. Among them: Native American, Cajun and Hawaiian. Those will be lumped into Regional Roots Music.

Sanchez’ company, Emergence Productions, specializes in Native music and coordinates the performances for the Gathering. The biggest problem with the Regional Roots generalization, she says, is that it tries to blur all those genres together. And the word “roots” almost makes it sound like reggae, she says. “I don’t know where they came up with that.” Plus, when nominations are announced, there’s a lot of exposure for musicians. Removing the category could mean fewer Native artists get that spotlight.

The Alibi got a chance to talk to Sanchez about the ripples from the Recording Academy’s decision.

What did it mean to people when the Native American category was introduced in 2001?

I think it was a coup. It was really exciting because it would be a recognition of the types of Native American music that are out there. It’s so diverse. It was also in a few of our minds in the industry: How will this carry through because of the diversity? You have traditional music, traditional mixed with contemporary—it just goes on and on. Those were some of the first questions, but overall, the category being included was a victory.

That’s one of the criticisms people have had of the category—it includes such a big scope of styles. What do you think about that?

It would be difficult as a person who’s voting on that particular category. Also seeing it from the artists’ side: What are they looking for, exactly? There really can’t be any specifics on the criteria for the category. It’s always going to be difficult. But it is what it is.

Was there a learning curve when people were initially trying to figure out the rules?

Oh, yes. The bad part about the timing for the demise of the category is that with Gathering of Nations’ win this year, it brought so much exposure. Awareness went up. People became curious about the process: “Well, how do I get in?” They were getting inspired to learn how to submit and learn how to play the Grammy game. So this was a blow in that sense.

Do you have any good Grammy stories?

The first one was really exciting because it was awarded on TV. That was really cool.

Who went to receive the award that year?

It was the producer Tom Bee, who owns Soar Records. That’s an Albuquerque company. So that’s who actually got onstage and picked up the Grammy when it was first established.

On a side note, Gathering of Nations moved on to create their own music label. From there on, Gathering has produced its own music.

I have always watched who wins as it is broadcast online. I was able to see live broadcast of afternoon awards, which is where the Native American award is. I think everybody always looked forward to hearing who was nominated for the Grammy. That always became big news within Native American media and communities.

Do you think anyone expected the Recording Academy to cut the category? Was there a rumor that it might happen?

I think it was out of left field. I’m a New Mexico music commissioner, and we’ve held several forums with some of the Grammy executives coming out to New Mexico. What was said in those forums is that there needed to be more involvement, especially in our Southwest region. That wasn’t just for Native American music, it was for New Mexico music. Anybody who was in the music industry, we needed to educate ourselves on the Grammy process and become involved as voting members.

Knowing that part of it, and hearing about the drop of the category—I understand, but I wish it hadn’t happened to any of the categories.

What was your reaction?

I was disappointed. It’s just one of those things: If only we had more time. But who’s to say it’s over? There might be an opportunity to lobby. This might bring awareness of our own genre, that we all need to go back to the basics, educate ourselves on this process and make an impact.

Is it insulting that the category was removed?

I don’t think it was meant as an insult. I just think they were, on their part, cleaning Grammy house.

Do you think the change will prevent some Native artists from being nominated?

There’s been already Native American artists who are Grammy winners, such as Bill Miller and Carlos Nakai, in other categories. For the type of music Regional Roots has to encompass, it might be a deterrent for some of the artists. It might not appeal to them to be categorized this way.

On the flip side, when we work with our artists, we always are encouraging them to become the best they possibly can and get past the glass ceiling. You just are artists who happen to be Native American or indigenous or aboriginal Canadian. So go out there and knock them dead with your style. There isn’t a reason why we can’t all compete in mainstream categories. It’s just a bigger game.

The Gathering of Nations Grammy presentation will take place after the Grand Entry (which starts at noon) on Friday, April 29, in The Pit.
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Latin Jazz Heavyweights Protest Grammy Snub [Village Voice]

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Latin Jazz Heavyweights Protest Grammy Snub

By Larry Blumenfeld, Wed., Apr. 13 2011 @ 12:00PM

The scene outside the New York Institute of Technology Auditorium Monday night suggested a Latin jazz celebration; pianist Eddie Palmieri, pianist/bandleader Larry Harlow, drummer Bobby Sanabria, trombonist Chris Washburne, and trumpeter Brian Lynch milled about. But this wasn’t a concert, nor was it a celebration; it was an informational meeting organized by the New York chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) where the musicians gathered would soon sound off in polite yet impassioned protest of the Grammys’ elimination of the Best Latin Jazz Album category. [more…]

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Grammy changes rock the music world

April 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Grammy changes rock the music world

April 27, 2011|By Dan DeLuca, Inquirer Music Critic

Can the Grammys do anything right?

This month, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, responding to years of criticism that the Grammy Awards were hopelessly out of touch, decided to do something about it.

Academy president Neil Portnow announced that instead of giving out 109 golden gramophones at next year’s 54th annual awards, it would give out 78.

The Grammys have been widely mocked – by this critic, among others – for being the most overly generous of awards. The Oscars give out 24 awards. This year’s symbol of the just-about-anyone-can-win-a-Grammy syndrome is actress Tia Carrere of Wayne’s World fame, who won the award for best Hawaiian music album in February.

So with award inflation a point of fact – in 1959, at the first ceremony, 28 Grammys were presented – you might think that the category culling would be widely applauded as a necessary step toward regaining relevancy.


Instead, the cutbacks have been widely derided. For one thing, they sidestep the Grammys’ real credibility problem. And that is, in prime time the Grammys present awards like album of the year to either out-of-the-blue choices (like Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters, which beat out Kanye West and Amy Winehouse in 2008), or high-selling but insubstantial acts (like country-pop trio Lady Antebellum, which took home five awards this year).

For another, by eliminating categories like Latin jazz album and condensing four Mexican folk categories into two, they pick on niche artists for whom the words Grammy-winning are critical – a key resumé highlight for artists struggling in a shrinking music business. And the cullings cut awards that were already ghettoized because they were handed out in a separate non-televised daytime ceremony, anyway.

So what does Grammy really gain by losing categories like best zydeco or Cajun music album, or narrowing the field of world music from two categories to one?

Jim Musselman’s West Chester independent label Appleseed Recordings released Pete Seeger’s Tomorrow’s Children, which won for children’s musical album this year. The category is being combined with children’s spoken-word album in 2012.

“There was no discussion,” Musselman said. “It was done without any input from membership, an executive decision that cut 30 percent of the awards . . . overnight.”

(Page 2 of 2)

Last week, nine-time Grammy winner Eddie Palmieri, a pianist who won a Grammy for Latin jazz in 2006 for Listen Here! and again in 2007 for Simpatico, his collaboration with Brian Lynch, joined other jazz heavy hitters in New York in protest. “This hurts so much,” he told the Village Voice. “I can feel it in my heart. It’s like a Grammy scar.”

Musselman stressed the economic cost to scuffling artists for whom “Grammy-winning” or even “Grammy-nominated” is a marketable accomplishment.

“That got rid of many categories that deal with traditional music,” the label head said. “For many of these musicians, the Grammy nominations help them have a livelihood or better booking fees, and it is their only shot at major recognition.”

Bill Freimuth, vice president of awards for the Recording Academy, says that the changes were made to maintain the Grammys’ currency.

“One of the things we’re trying to protect here is the value of it,” said the York, Pa., native, speaking from Los Angeles, where the academy is based. “We were on a path here, where we had 109 categories and, who knows, maybe in five years it would have been 169, or 199. There’s a breaking point where it will lose value.”

Freimuth, who visited the Philadelphia chapter for what he called a “spirited” session on the new rules, said decisions on which categories would be consolidated “had to do with numbers. It was no longer acceptable for a category that had less than 40 entries a year to continue.” The Latin jazz contestants, who will now compete with other jazz entries, had averaged 31 per year over the last five years.

“Any time you have changes this big, you’re going to have people who are unhappy,” Freimuth said. “And the people who are unhappy are the people who are raising their hands.”

Contact music critic Dan DeLuca at 215-854-5628 or

Read his blog, “In the Mix,” at

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Reaction To The Elimination Of The Polka Category From The Grammy Awards

April 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Reaction To The Elimination Of The Polka Category From The Grammy Awards

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Grammy winners defend their music to Hawaiians

April 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Grammy winners defend their music to Hawaiians

By John Berger 

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Apr 24, 2011


Daniel Ho, left, Tia Carrere and Amy Ku’uleialoha Stillman held hands with guests and sang “Hawaii Aloha” at the end of the program Thursday at UH’s

Hawaiian music album Grammy winners Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho faced a full house of fans, critics and observers Thursday night in a special edition of Amy Ku‘u lei aloha Stillman’s “… aia i ka wai …” discussion series at the Kama ka ku oka lani Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The Hawaii-born Stillman, a Dai Ho Chun distinguished visiting professor in the UH College of Arts and Humanities, acknowledged she was in an awkward situation moderating a discussion about a controversy in which she is personally involved. Ho and Carrere have been the targets of criticism regarding their series of wins in the now-defunct best Hawaiian music album category of the Grammy Awards, but Stillman is an equal member of their team. She was the lyricist and co-producer of the duo’s 2009 Grammy-winning album, “‘Ikena,” as well as Carrere’s 2011 solo Grammy winner, “Huana ke Aloha.”

Stillman told the crowd that although she had tried “very, very, very hard in the last several weeks,” she was unable to find anyone willing to moderate the program in her place. She said that efforts to include “other voices and other viewpoints as panelists” were fruitless as well.

“We are not trying to hide anything,” she said. “We are not trying to not share or be evasive or be secretive, but we are truly willing to confront many of these issues head-on. In the proc ess, I also want to try to get people to understand that many of the attacks that have been aimed especially at Daniel and Tia have been attacks that really have been addressing deeper issues and deeper frustrations.”

Following a musical performance, Stillman, Carrere and Ho defended their work and shared their perspectives on the Grammy controversy. Stillman set the stage with a partial “laundry list of some of the attacks” against Carrere and Ho and their music. It ranged from complaints the pair are not ethnic Hawaiians and don’t live in Hawaii to claims that since they don’t also win Na Hoku Hano hano Awards, their music obviously doesn’t deserve a Grammy.

Carrere said the trio’s Hawaiian music “tells stories of our particular perspective and our love and our longing for our homeland.”

“We’ve never made any claims of being or representing traditional Hawaiian music. We make no claims to being anything other than what we are, creating all-original compositions in the Hawaiian language, and I feel very proud to be able to share the stage and bring into voice these songs that I love.”

Audience member Van Horn Diamond, a third-generation Hawaiian musician “in Waikiki and on the mainland,” pointed out that musicians from Hawaii have been writing and recording Hawaiian music on the mainland for more than 80 years.

“For those who grumble about losing (each year), the key is, they gotta find out how you won,” he said.

Ho shared his approach to recording and producing Grammy-winning albums. He took several minutes to explain how and why a painstaking and meticulous approach to composing music, recording sound and assembling a finished album is necessary when your work is being judged by some of the best ears in the national rec ord business — people like Quincy Jones, for example.

Stillman addressed the racial issue, saying that although Hawaiian music at its foundation is the music of the indigenous people, two centuries of in-migration and the adoption and adaptation of ideas from other cultures means that Hawaiian music is no longer exclusively for native Hawaiians to sing, create or record.

A couple of audience questions appeared to strike a nerve. UH Asian studies professor Ric Tri mil los mentioned the Hawaiian tradition of paka (“to criticize constructively”) in which writers and composers ask others for input as part of the creative proc ess. The implication appeared to be that Stillman and Ho, working on the mainland away from the Hawaiian community here, have jettisoned that cultural foundation.

Stillman responded that “just because our skill set is practiced a few thousand miles away from here (doesn’t matter because) physical distance is no longer a barrier.”

Hoku Zuttermeister, a Hawaiian entertainer with a long lineage in Hawaiian music and hula, took issue with the idea that Hawaiian music can be based on music theory or recording techniques.

“It’s not about (how to position) notes (in a recording),” Zuttermeister said. “It’s a feeling. … It’s about knowing when to stop and when to go forward. When you sing about a blossom, it’s about knowing how to pick that flower, (how) to put it into a lei and then wear it proudly.”

He added that “Hawaiian music can only go so far because of how tied it is to our culture.”

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Anyone for the Louisiana Music Awards?

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Anyone for the Louisiana Music Awards?

Monday, 18 April 2011 15:12

Guest OpED  Section: Buzz Latest Buzz 

Last week I commented on the loss of the Grammy Cajun/Zydeco category after several years of working to get it created, and only four years of awards. Let’s not bemoan that too long. It’s gone.

First of all, Cajun/Zydeco isn’t Louisiana’s only unique genre of music deserving of a category. In fact, it is, arguably, two categories, Cajun and Zydeco.

Well, I guess since there’s a regional Cajun/Zydeco awards, there used to be a Swamp Pop awards, there’s plenty of  “Best of…” across the state, and there have been several other regional and genre driven awards, that we just don’t need more.

Wrong! It is time that Louisiana steps up and has an annual event to honor the artists of Louisiana. The artists, descendants of artists and current artists carrying forward for Louisiana artists that created the original music of, not only, Cajun, Zydeco, and Swamp Pop, but Rock’n’Roll, Jazz, Dixieland, Rockabilly, R& B and more. And how about Country from Louisiana. Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins and Kix Brooks jump immediately to mind. And Blues, Buddy Guy (Louisianan) won that Grammy this year.

How about Mardi Gras music and the music of the Mardi Gras Indians? Would that be one category or two categories?

Louisiana has pioneered the way, basically inventing most of the music genres, as we now know them, of the 20th Century. Certainly we claim Cajun, and we claim Zydeco, and we claim Swamp Pop, but we should also lay claim to, and honor, Jazz, Dixieland, Rock’n’Roll, Rockabilly and some other genres.

The point is that Louisiana has basically given our amazing music to the rest of the country and the world, and maybe, just maybe, it’s time that we promote ourselves by openly honoring the best of our music and artists on a statewide basis. It’s not like we’re lacking for nominees or music itself. We have always had that.

The mechanics of nomination, voting, protocols and declaration of winners would not be that hard to engineer. The event would not be that hard to plan. The venue wouldn’t be that difficult to obtain, there are plenty of venues.

The will to do the event, now that’s something interesting. Outside of the successes of Louisiana music like Cosimo’s studio, the Louisiana Hayride and the other areas of Louisiana’s music industry(?) that cooperated with each other, worked together and created amazing music, there is a lack of “cooperative spirit” within the community of Louisiana musicians and industry people.

And then there’s the State of Louisiana. They would need to participate, bless, even help promote the process and event. Would that come from economic development? culture? tourism? or where?

Actually, any of those would be applicable as a “helper” in such an undertaking. It certainly could be construed as economic development and, in fact, that’s where the state’s authority for music, and entertainment in general lies. It certainly could be an asset for promoting our culture, as it is a part of our culture. It could be a promotional aid for tourism, right up there with our food and our scenic beauty.

All of those areas would benefit from such an event and its’ promotion.

La Musique and The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame stand ready to make this happen. But, we can’t, well probably shouldn’t, do this alone.

Participation from the state should be attainable, but to what degree?

Support, yes.

Participation, yes.

Promotion, well, that should be attainable.

Funding, Wellllll, someone in one of the proper departments would have to first see this for the opportunity that it is. But, that could happen.

The other missing piece would be a reasonably big corporate sponsor that would be able to see the importance and significance of such an undertaking, not to fill any one’s pocket, but to move our State and our music industry forward, and for that corporate partner to step up and provide private sector funding to “make it happen.”

We’ll see.

Author Mike Shepherd is the President & Executive Director of La Musique de Louisianne Inc., The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame, a 501c3 dedicated to “preserving Louisiana’s greatest renewable natural resource

Visit the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame

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Grammy winners Ho, Carrere to perform, discuss awards

April 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Grammy winners Ho, Carrere to perform, discuss awards

By Gary C.W. Chun 

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Apr 17, 2011

Grammy winners Daniel Ho and Tia Carrere are coming back to Hawaii this week to perform and discuss the controversy surrounding their success in the music industry awards and the recent restructuring of Grammy categories to eliminate the best Hawaiian music album category.

The discussion will be a special addition to the series of programs titled “… aia i ka wai … Dialogues on (the Present & Future of) Hawaiian Music: Debating Culture.” It is sponsored by the Dai Ho Chun Distinguished Chair, the University of Hawaii-Manoa’s College of Arts and Humanities, Hawai‘inuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies and the Gladys Brandt Chair in Polynesian Studies.

The free event will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the center.

Amy Ku‘uleialoha Stillman also will participate in the moderated discussion with Ho and Carrere after the duo’s 45-minute performance. Stillman wrote the Hawaiian-language lyrics to Carrere’s two previous albums (released under the Daniel Ho Creations label), “‘Ikena” and “Huana ke Aloha,” which won Grammys in 2009 and this year, respectively.

The Hawaii-born Stillman is an associate professor of American culture at the University of Michigan and a member of its Center for Southeast Asian Studies. She is the 2010-2011 Dai Ho Chun distinguished visiting professor in the UH College of Arts and Humanities.

Both Ho and Carrere were born and raised in Hawaii but now live and work in Los Angeles, giving rise to claims by some in the isle music industry that the pair are not representative of Hawaiian music and have an unfair advantage in the Grammy proc ess.

In her announcement about Thursday’s program, Stillman wrote that “the successes of Tia Carrere and Daniel Ho in the Grammy Awards have drawn controversy, displeasure and attacks from the Hawaiian music community. Many of the attacks are irrelevant to the guidelines for Grammy Awards published by the Recording Academy.”

She noted the academy’s sweeping reorganization of award categories announced this month “adds a new perspective to the volatile mixture of issues in play.”

Starting next year, nominated Hawaiian albums will have to compete in the newly formed best regional roots music category, along with entries from other deleted music album categories, such as Native American, zydeco/Cajun and polka.

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