After the recent decision by the National Academy of Recording Artists and Sciences (NARAS) to cut the number of Grammy Awards issued from 109 to 78 by cutting certain categories, guitar legend and 10-time Grammy Award winner Carlos Santana has responded with outrage, believing the decision by NARAS to be racially motivated.
31 categories were either collapsed or eliminated from consideration for the coveted awards – many of which are more ethnic or traditional genres, including Hawaiian, Native American, and Cajun-Zydeco, which are all now collectively categorized as “Regional Roots”. Likewise, Contemporary and Traditional Blues now fall under the same umbrella as simply “Blues” while Latin music – from which Santana rose to fame – received a heavy blow, going from seven categories to only four, with Latin Jazz eradicated entirely.
Santana responded in defense of the lost or collapsed categories, saying, “Why do they cut only this music? Why not other music?” He explains, “I think they’re racist. Period. I do. First of all, we have so many categories of country and western. Country and western people have seven to nine to 10 (awards) shows a year, and you seldom see Negroes or Latin people.”
More specifically of the affected categories, he commented, “You can’t eliminate black gospel music or Hawaiian music or American Indian music or Latin jazz music, because all this music represents what the U.S. is: a social experiment.”
Santana also spoke out on behalf of his fellow musicians – including Quincy Jones, who has the record for most Grammy nominations with 79 – stating, “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.”
Last week, a class-action lawsuit in response to the categorical slashing was filed against NARAS by Latin jazz musicians Bobby Sanabria, Mark Levine, Ben Lapidus, and Eugene Marlow for eliminating the Latin Jazz category and thus “devaluing” the genre.
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