Archive for May 22, 2011

“Remember (the Grammy) is about excellence not popularity…” – Frank Sinatra at the 1st Grammy Awards ceremony in 1959

The ill-advised April 6th 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 erased.

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. This action clearly caters to the established pop and commercial styles that have always dominated the Awards and the controversial annual TV show.

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

May 22nd – Press Conference in Protest of Grammy Travesty

On Sunday, May 22nd, at 1pm, world-renowned artists, celebrities, writers, activists, and members of the media will gather at the world-famous Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe in the Lower East Side of Manhattan to voice their opposition to the recent announcement by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) to eliminate Latin Jazz from Grammy consideration, as well as many other styles of music representative of the diversity of the American musical landscape.

Sunday, May 22, 2011 — 1pm

Nuyorican Poets Café

236 East 3rd Street

(between Avenues B & C)

New York City

(212) 780.9386

Panelists and guests will deliver brief remarks in support of the reinstatement of the eliminated fields. A Q&A will follow. Some of the distinguished panelists and guests from the various music communities affected by this decision who will participate are:

* Bobby Sanabria – Drummer, percussionist, bandleader, educator, 4-time Grammy nominee, May 22nd press-conference moderator

* Eddie Palmieri – Legendary pianist, 9-time Grammy winner and former NARAS Board of
Governors member, responsible for getting Latin jazz recognized as a category.

* Larry Harlow – Legendary Salsa pianist/bandleader, LARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, former NARAS Board of Governors, responsible for getting Salsa recognized as a category, 3-time Grammy nominee

* Arturo O’Farrill – Grammy winner, pianist, bandleader, educator

* René Lopez – Grammy-winning producer, Latin-music historian, advisor to Jazz at Lincoln Center

* Candido Camero – Legendary conguero, NEA Jazz Master; Grammy nominee

* Ned Sublette – NY Times bestselling author of Cuba and Its Music: From The First Drums to the Mambo and New Orleans: After The Flood; President, QBA Disc Records

* T.J. English – NY Times bestselling author of The Westies, Havana Nocturne, The Savage City

* Ben Lapidus – Renowned guitarist, Professor of Ethnomusicology at John Jay College, New York City

* Chris Washburne – Trombonist, Professor of Ethnomusicology, Director of Jazz Studies at Columbia University, New York City

* Joachim Becher – President of ZOHO Records

* Ivan Acosta – Award-winning film maker, President of Latin Jazz USA, NARAS Committee Member Latin Music

* Randy Klein – President of Jazzheads Records, pianist, composer, 4-time EMMY winner

* Jackie Harris – Executive Director, Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp; New Orleans, Louisiana.

* Brian Lynch – Grammy-winning trumpeter, educator

* Rachel Z – Multiple-Grammy-winning pianist, educator

* Brenda Feliciano – Critically acclaimed classical vocalist

* Pat and Ettore Phillips – Stratta Phillips Classical Music Productions

 And More…



Musicians Local Unions Speak Out:

Local 802 – New York City

The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences recently voted to eliminate 31 categories of Grammy awards, including Best Classical Album, Best Latin Jazz Album and Best Chamber Music Performance. The removal of these and other categories (like Best Hawaiian Album, Best Zydeco/Cajun Album and Best Native American Album) weakens musicians’ chances to be recognized for their achievements. It also shows a disrespect for the diversity of American music.

Recording Musicians Association of Los Angeles (RMALA) Local 47

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.


Musicians from all genres speak out and release statements:

Carlos Santana and Cindy Blackman Santana:

“It has come to our attention that you have reduced the number of 2012 GRAMMY Awards from 109 to 78. We have heard that categories such as rap performance by a duo or group; some of the instrumental categories in pop, rock and country; traditional gospel; children’s spoken-word album; Zydeco or Cajun album; and classical crossover album have been completely cut. And, then we heard about the cuts to the Latin & Jazz categories.

“The biggest and most irresponsible cut to us is that you have eliminated Latin Jazz. Apparently the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences down-sizing (even though no categories were removed from the awards) is simply a bad move and makes us wonder if you are doing this for other motives.

“Without Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, João Gilberto and countless others, there would be no Santana. These Latin Jazz artists helped launch and craft countless genres of American and World music and are just as vibrant today as they were at any other point in history. To remove Latin Jazz and many other ethnic categories is doing a huge disservice to the brilliant musicians who keep the music vibrant for their fans – new and old. In fact, the entire “restructuring” of the Latin Field, with groups like the “Best Latin Pop Album” award combining with the “Best Latin Rock, Alternative or Urban Album” to create the new “Best Latin Pop, Rock or Urban Album” award is ridiculous considering the fact that the Latin market and population is the fastest growing segment in the United States.

“We strongly protest this decision and we ask you to represent all of the colors of the rainbow when it comes to music and give ethnic music a place in the heart of music lovers everywhere.”


What You Can Do:

Sign the Petition

With your support, the Petition to the Leadership and Board Trustees of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has recently exceeded 3,300 cosigners. Originally launched by Stephanie Dalton of Urban Music Presents in San Francisco in support for the Latin Jazz Grammy, the campaign and Press Conferences have expanded with support for Jazz, Blues, Native, Hawaiian Cajun & Zydeco, World Music, Mexican, Classical, Instrumental Rock, and other Grammy categories cut by NARAS.

The Petition is still accepting signatures, prior to the National meeting of the NARAS Board of Trustees in Los Angeles on the week of May 23-27th.

Please send the Petition to friends, journalists, musicians and other supporters who care about this issue.

(note: Donation to “” is optional, but not required to register your signature. Grammy Watch receives no share of any donations to

Write to the NARAS President and Leadership to Reinstate the Grammy categories

As mentioned previously, the NARAS Leadership and the National NARAS Board of Trustees, who have all due authorities to reverse the elimination of the Grammy categories, are scheduled to meet in Los Angeles next week, May 23 – 27th.

This is good opportunity to write to NARAS to register your concerns and demand they reinstate the Grammy categories.

Here is their contact information:

* Neil Portnow –

* Joanna Chu –

* Linda Wilvang –

Feel free to send a copy of your letter to us:

You may also write to your local NARAS Board of Governors and Trustees representing the Chapter on the national board.

They are listed here, along with the local Chapter staff:

NARAS Members, especially those from the music communities affected by the Grammy cuts, are encouraged to express their opposition to the decision.

Join Grammy Watch on Facebook and Twitter

‘Grammy Watch’ is now on Facebook and Twitter. Join on, invite your Friends, share and contribute videos, news articles, podcasts, letters & links, organize a local Press Conference, and tell us what is happening in your Music Community.

* Grammy Watch page on Facebook

* Grammy Watch on Twitter

Write to Grammy Watch:

We’d love to hear from you and what is happening in your community. Press queries and statements from NARAS Members and musicians are welcome.

Please write us at


For related background info, articles, letters to and from NARAS,

and the Petition against the Grammy cuts, please visit:

Colorado’s Hottest Saxophonist will be coming to D.C to play at Blues Alley on June 21 for 2 shows 8pm and 10pm. Tony Exum Jr is setting the Contemporary Jazz scene on fire with his high energy performances and a sound that is off the radar….Tickets are $18 and can be purchased by going to or 202-337-4141 for reservations.

Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave, Washington, DC