Many non-mainstream artists were upset when told that the Grammys would be cutting one-third of its music categories, including Latin Jazz and Zydeco, last April. In response to the seemingly culturally discriminatory cutbacks, Rev. Jesse Jackson jumped to the forefront of complaints. Last Friday, he wrote a letter to The Recording Academy asking to meet with the music organization’s president and raised the possibility of a protest.
Being the biggest cut—from 109 to 78 categories—in the organization’s 53-year history, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow agreed to meet with the civil rights leader. “We are receptive to meeting with the Rev. Jackson to explain how our nomination process works and to show the resulting diverse group of nominees it produced for the 54th Grammys — many in the musical genres he cited in his letter,” Portnow told The Washington Post. “We also agree with the Rev. Jackson that the Grammys are about music, not sales. They have, and always will, stand for excellence in music and celebrating the impact all music has on our culture.”
Ironically this is not the first time the Grammy’s has been boycotted. LL Cool J, who’s scheduled to host the show in three weeks, actually boycotted the ceremony in 1989 because organizers decided to not televise the then-new award for Best Rap Song. The Grammys didn’t give out an award for Best Rap Album until 1996.
Is the outspoken Jackson being too sensitive or does the committee need to be more sensitive to musical diversity?