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:

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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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