http://www.theprovince.com/entertainment/Slashing+Grammys+racist+declares+Carlos+Santana/5254103/story.htmlMexican-born guitar superstar Carlos Santana has declared the decision by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to slash the number of Grammy Awards it distributes from 109 to 78 to be racially motivated.
Among the 31 categories either collapsed together or eliminated entirely are Hawaiian, Native American and Cajun-Zydeco, which will all merge as regional roots, while contemporary and traditional blues are now just blues. Latin music categories were especially hard-hit, going from seven categories to four, with Latin jazz dropped entirely.
"Why do they cut only this music? Why not other music," asked Santana who performs at Vancouver's Rogers Arena Aug. 27.
"I think they're racist. Period. I do. First of all we have so many categories of Country & Western. Country & Western people have seven to nine to 10 (awards) shows a year and you seldom see ******* or Latin people. You can't eliminate black gospel music or Hawaiian music or American Indian music or Latin jazz music because all this music represents what United States is: a social experiment.
"They didn't even tell other members, only certain people voted, overnight. A lot of people didn't know this had passed. Quincy Jones didn't know, Herbie Hancock didn't know."
The sweeping changes were announced by NARAS CEO/president Neil Portnow April 6.
"Every year, we diligently examine our awards structure to develop an overall guiding vision and ensure that it remains a balanced and viable process," he said at the time. "After careful and extensive review and analysis of all categories and fields, it was objectively determined that our Grammy categories be restructured to the continued competition and prestige of the highest and only peer-recognized award in music. Our Board of Trustees continues to demonstrate its dedication to keeping The Recording Academy a pertinent and responsive organization in our dynamic music community."
Other category changes include merging best male and best female vocal pop performance into best pop solo performance. Similarly, best R&B performance by duo or group with vocals will compete with best female, best male (R&B) and best urban/alternative in a new best, overall R&B performance. Many of the changes will not be especially notable to the general public as only about a dozen awards are ever given on the televised show. The 54th Grammy Awards will air Feb. 12, 2012 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, last week Latin jazz musicians Bobby Sanabria, Mark Levine, Ben Lapidus and Eugene Marlow filed a class-action lawsuit against NARAS for eliminating the Latin jazz category and thereby "devaluing" the genre.
The academy's return statement said it "believes this frivolous lawsuit is without merit and we fully expect to prevail".
The first Grammy Awards were given in May, 1959 for 1958 releases and there were 28 categories that year. Quincy Jones is the most nominated (79) and has won a near record 27 Grammys. Since he first emerged on the wider music scene with his electrifying performance at Woodstock in 1969, Santana has won 10 Grammys.
"I'm not afraid if they don't invite me again," he says, "but I'm not afraid to say that it's basically racist. Ignorant and racist."