Ronnie Stewart, outraged blues and gospel musicians protest Grammy’s decision to cut Blues, Gospel and R&B from award categories
By Big Cat Tolefree
Tempers flared at a press conference held at Yoshi’s in Oakland Monday, to oppose the decisions by NARAS and the Grammy’s to remove 31 ethnic genres of music from future categories at the annual award shows. Hundreds of bay area musicians, students and super star entertainers took the streets in downtown Oakland, citing the San Francisco based foundation sponsors will be contacted and boycotted if the action isn’t reversed immediately. Voting members at the rally expressed concerns they were never contacted or allowed to vote on this extremely sensitive and fragile decision in a time when unification appears to be the focus in America right now! 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 groundswell of questions about their motives. Music wouldn’t be what it is without the original music art form of American music, Blues was the beginning and along came many other similar genres of music to make up the current fabric of sounds heard around the world. We all know how influential Gospel and R&B music has contribute to the family structure of music period, communities everywhere are in raged with this bold choice by the academy to roll the dice on loosing everything. Especially the revenue and commitment of sponsorship dollars needed to sustain the foundation‘s vital existence. You can express your concerns and sign a petition to make a change at www.grammywatch.info
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