Hawaiian Musicians Protest Grammys

Boycott of awards based on elimination of ethnic music categories picks up steam

Shahar Azran/WireImage
Tia Carrere accepts the best Hawaiian music album award for her album "Huana Ke Aloha" at the 2011 Grammy Awards.
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A group of musicians are threatening a boycott of CBS after the Recording Academy sliced 31 awards from this year’s Grammys, according to the Associated Press. An official Grammy press release said the decision to reduce the categories from 109 to 78 “continues evolution” for the Recording Academy, but Grammy-nominated Latin jazz percussionist Bobby Sanabria, who is leading the coalition, says the streamlining is a racist decision that unfairly shorts ethnic music. Specific categories like best Zydeco or Cajun music album, best Latin jazz and best classical crossover all got the axe in favor of more general ones.

Support for the movement is growing. This morning, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that Hawaiian musicians like slack-key king Dennis Kamakahi support the boycott after that Hawaiian music was lumped into a vague “regional roots" category alongside Native American music and polka.

On Thursday, the Academy issued the following statement: "The Recording Academy's board of trustees and its committees — made up of elected, qualified voting members from The Academy's 12 chapter cities around the country and a broad spectrum of music makers — spent two years researching and ultimately making the decision to restructure the Grammy Awards categories for reasons that had everything to do with recognizing excellence in music and the integrity of our awards and nothing to do with ethnicity or race."