The Recording Academy just announced the nominations for the 61st annual Grammy Awards set to premiere Sunday, February 10.
While this year’s nominees are more diverse, does that mean that the actual award show and the results will be as diverse? Diversity has always been an issue for the ceremony, which to some may not be much of a surprise. Remember how Kanye West was trying to boycott the Grammys? Or how about when Macklemore won Best Rap Song (it’s a great song but sorry, not a rap song)? The whole 2017 debacle when no white males were nominated for Album of the Year, proving that the award show is ‘not racist’.
For quite a while, the voting members were full of white men who had an idea as to what was hot and what as not from the early development of the Grammys. While most of the nominees and winners were white, you had the “token” minority like Ella Fitzgerald (the first black winner) and Selena (the first Tejano winner). As time went by, however, the Grammys didn’t necessarily prove to be that diverse.
Can you believe that in the 61 years the Grammys have been running, only 10 black artists have won Album of the Year? Not to mention, only 3 Latino musicians have won the category (1965 album, Getz/Gilberto). Girl.
Remember in 2018 when Bruno Mars took home Album of the Year? You know how long it had been since the last person of color won that award? A decade. Herbie Hancock won the category in 2008 with his album, River: The Joni Letters. And who can forget Beyoncé and Lemonade (don’t worry, they made sure to broadcast her winning Best Urban Contemporary Album so America knows that, yes, the Grammys are “diverse”)?
“[The Recording Academy] is not in touch with culture, and music is culture. I was surprised, because [Lemonade] was so culturally relevant. I can’t name any album that was more impactful for women, for black women, for music lovers.”
– anonymous record-company executive ⚆ _ ⚆
Hey, at least Adele acknowledged Beyoncé, right? You know that diversity was such a big issue once 2017 saw no white guys were nominated for Album of the Year – hence why Bruno Mars won. Aside from the racial aspect, women also took a hit in 2018 when the Recording Academy President Ken Ehrlich said women need to “step up” if they want more nominations. Ouch.
This year, more women & colored folks and are nominated for Album of the Year – noticeably Cardi B, one of few Latinos to be nominated for this category. More Latino artists like Camila Cabello and Christina Aguilera are also seen in the general categories (though A LOT more Latino artists took over Top 40, but whatever). Artists such as H.E.R., Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monáe, and Childish Gambino also represented a black presence in the general categories. It’s unfortunate, however, to note that other ethnicity backgrounds were not included in these general categories. Maybe there’s hope for change; this year, invitations were sent to over 900 people — allegedly of a diverse background — to participate in the voting process. Is this a smokescreen for lack of diversity – especially in deciding the nominees and winners — on the Grammy’s part? Let’s hope Rob Kenner is right about some sort of progress.
“The voting bloc is still too white, too old and too male. I do see a significant difference from [what it was] three or four years ago — the voters are becoming more diverse in terms of minorities, females and younger ages — but there’s still a long way to go.”