The nominees for the 54th Grammy Awards, which was held yesterday on 12 February 2012, competed in a relatively small amount of categories. Unlike in previous years, where world, reggae, folk, and roots music nominees encompassed dozens of total categories, most world music and ethnic American roots artists are now competing in just a few categories, following an enormous restructuring of the overall Grammy categories that was announced in April of 2011.
Many artists from a variety of genres are up in arms about these cuts, to the point where a group of Latin jazz artists have actually brought a discrimination lawsuit against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the member-directed body that oversees the Grammy Awards.
Contemporary vs. Traditional?
It was in April 2011 that the Best Traditional World Musiccategory was combined with Best Contemporary World Musicto create a Best World Musiccategory. The same battle over terminologies was seen as the Best Traditional Folkmerged with the Best Contemporary Folkto create the Best Folkcategory...
However, Tinariwenare still to be congratulated over their 2012 Grammy award for Best World Music Album:Tassili(Anti Records). Other contenders in this category included 'Afrocubism' by Afrocubism (World Circuit/Nonesuch), 'Africa for Africa' by Femi Kuti (Knitting Factory Records), and 'Songs From a Zulu Farm' by Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Razor & Tie).
However, what opportunities do the Grammys hold for future nominees? It is clear that the new changes have restricted access to the music industry. And yes, the deletion of several smaller categories, that are thought to have stood at the periphery of the mainstream music industry, is indeed a worrying thought. However, perhaps it is not the Grammys that are to be blamed for the decrease in categories. In fact, they have at least removed some of the slapdash terminologies that continue to highly challenge the world music industry. In this respect, both 'contemporary' and 'traditional' terminologies can be weighed equally. Or at least, let us hope they can.