Grammy Guts Blues Category

Grammy Guts Blues Category
April 7, 2011
Reverend Keith A. Gordon

To paraphrase writer Ed Anger from his Weekly World News tabloid column, the Reverend is "pig-biting mad!" On Wednesday, The Recording Academy® announced an overall restructuring of the Grammy® categories across all genres in a misguided attempt to "evolve" the award process. In doing so, these clowns have reduced the number of categories to be recognized at the 2012 awards ceremony to 78, from 109 categories.

Sadly, The Recording Academy's actions have gutted the blues music award categories. Longtime readers will shake their heads in recognition of my annual February rant against the Grammy oversight of blues music. For years, only two awards were offered in recognition of excellence in the blues - "Best Traditional Blues Album" and "Best Contemporary Blues Album" - but beginning in 2012 there will only be one award, for "Best Blues Album." In reducing a category that should, instead, have been expanded, The Recording Academy has shown a definite anti-blues bias. I'm also afraid that this reduction in blues categories will result in the "Best Blues Award" skewing towards more contemporary artists and ignoring older, traditional bluesmen like this year's winner, the great Pinetop Perkins.

When it comes to Grammy woes, blues music is not alone. Folk music has also seen the genre's two categories combined into one, while poor old zydeco has been eliminated altogether, lumped in with Hawaiian and Native American music as a single "Best Regional Roots Music Album" award. As a sop to us critics who will, well, criticize this ridiculous decision, The Recording Academy patiently explains that they are expanding the minimum number of entries in each category from 25 to 40 albums. Those of us who can do the math (i.e. all of us blues fans) realize that this actually reduces the number of albums considered for the award (two former categories of 25 entries each, compared to a single 40-album category, loses the blues 10 worthy entries).

One of the excuses used for this reduction in categories is a "declining number of entries" in the individual fields. Horseradish! I can't speak for the other genres, but blues music yields dozens of recordings each year that are worthy of a stinkin' Grammy Award. It seems that The Recording Academy has cut the deepest in the less-commercial genres of music, and while pop, rock, country, R&B, and jazz all still have four award categories, and gospel music has five awards, most of those styles of music wouldn't exist if not for the blues. Thank goodness for The Blues Foundation, whose annual Blues Music Awards honor more
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