SANTA MONICA, Calif. (April 06, 2011) – In an effort to continuously evolve its Grammy Awards process, The Recording Academy announced Wednesday that it has restructured the Grammy Categories across all genres and Fields, keeping the number of Fields the same but reducing the number of Categories from 109 to 78 starting with the 54th Grammy Awards in 2012.
Additionally, a minimum of 40 distinct artist entries will be required in each Category – raised from 25. If a Category receives between 25 – 39 entries, then three recordings would receive nominations that year. When there are fewer than 25 entries in a Category then no award will be given for that year and entries would be screened into the next most logical Category.
If a Category receives fewer than 25 entries for three consecutive years, the Category would be discontinued, and submissions would be entered in the next most appropriate Category.
The announcement came from President/CEO Neil Portnow, Academy Board Chair Emeritus and five-time Grammy winner Jimmy Jam, and Vice President of Awards Bill Freimuth.
“Every year, we diligently examine our Awards structure to develop an overall guiding vision and ensure that it remains a balanced and viable process,” said Portnow. “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.”
Over the past 53 years, The Grammy’s recognition widening recognition of musical excellence resulted in the original 28 Categories in 1959, growing to 109 Categories in 2010.
In 2009, The Academy initiated a first-ever comprehensive evaluation of its Awards process, which led to a desire for change. The Academy stated that a transformation of the entire Awards structure would ensure that all Fields would be treated with parity. It added that research, analysis, and discussion of all Fields resulted in an overarching framework that reduces the number but also ensures that every submission continues to have a home.
Mountain Apple Company of Honolulu, expressed disappointment from the Grammy Awards announcement. Hawaiian Music had enjoyed a category in the American Roots Field, or Field 70, where the Best Hawaiian Album was awarded along with Best Albums in the Americana, Bluegrass, Traditional Blues, Contemporary Blues, Traditional Folk, Contemporary Folk, Native American, and Zydeco or Cajun music.
The changes will have the American Roots Field honoring just five of the original nine categories, keeping Best Americana, Bluegrass, Blues, Folk and Regional Roots Music Album Categories.
So, when a Hawaiian albums is entered it would likely compete against other American cultural albums that don’t have enough submissions to warrant a separate category in the Regional Music Category.
“It is regrettable that – at a time when Hawaiian music as a genre is experiencing greater popularity and gaining traction with new audiences – the music industry will lose an international platform for recognizing gifted artists,” came a statement from Mountain Apple Company Hawai’i, a Honolulu record label that publishes, licenses, produces, and distributes scores of island music which has won several Grammy Awards.
“Hawaiian music deserves to be acknowledged as a category in its own right, not only for reasons of language but for cultural and historical reasons as well,” the statement added. “It is more than simply music from a specific geographic region; Hawaiian music is unique.’
The statement drew attention to the nature of a worldwide music industry, where it is challenging for artists from less dominant cultures and non-English speaking backgrounds to break through into mainstream music. The Grammys served as a key vehicle to achieve this objective for Hawaiian artists.
It was just on March 25, 2011 that the song, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by IZ (the late Israel Kamakawiwo’ole), won Germany’s Echo Award for Hit of the Year. The song set records in Hawai’i years ago and more recently dominated the German singles charts with ten straight weeks in the number one position.
Originally released in 1993 by Mountain Apple, the song and others have immortalized IZ, who passed away in 1997. Mountain Apple Company President Jon de Mello was in Berlin for the Echo honors.
The statement noted that the renaissance of IZ in finding new fans outside the United States that hear his songs for the first time, enhances IZ’s legacy because fans embrace his message of peace and understanding, and rich musical heritage founded in traditional Hawaiian culture.
“History has shown that when mainstream audiences get to know a Hawaiian artist, the results can be remarkable,” the statement added. “This remarkable popularity is testament to the potential for Hawaiian music as a genre.”
The statement called for The Recording Academy reconsider, adding that the loss of the Grammy for Best Hawaiian Music Album is not only a major loss to the Hawaiian, but to music lovers across the globe.
“The Grammys have the power to reach millions, if not billions, of new listeners – people who are waiting and watching for new music.”
Other rule changes in restructuring will have four Fields renamed. Musical Show is now Musical Theater; the Film/ Television/Other Visual Media Field is now called Music For Visual Media; the Gospel Field has been renamed the Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Field; and the Dance Field has been renamed the Dance/Electronica Field.
Another rule change regards voting. Previously, voting members were allowed to vote in up to nine genre Fields plus the General Field on the first ballot and eight genre Fields plus the General Field on the second ballot, including every category within each chosen Field. Now, on each ballot, voters may vote in up to 20 Categories in the genre Fields plus the four Categories of the General Field – which includes Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist.