OLYMPIC BLVD — Minority musicians and music lovers gathered at the home of the Grammys Thursday to protest the elimination of 31 categories from this year’s award ceremony scheduled for Sunday at the Staples Center.
These changes have outraged many in the music industry who argue that the decision was anti-democratic as none of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences’ 21,000 voting members were consulted. Speakers, community members and musicians demanded that the organization immediately restore music and cultural diversity to the Grammy Awards by re-instating all 31 Grammy music categories that were dropped by exhibiting some 23,000 petition signatures from online supporters. Some of these categories include: Latin jazz, traditional and contemporary blues, Hawaiian, Native American, R&B and gospel.
“We are simply looking for recognition,” said Miguel Perla, leader in the GrammyWatch and Presente movements, who together organized the protest. “This is not just about the Latino community, but to delete or just throw away a few categories is not representing the diversity of the music industry. There are so many different styles and genres out there. We are supporters of the Grammys. They are the main stage for all musical talents and believe that this decision is not showcasing music intellectually, rather popularizing it.”
The group also announced another protest rally to take place Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at the corner of Figueroa Street and Pico Boulevard near the Staples Center. Organizers of the protest hope that fans of Latin jazz, gospel and blues will join in and attend an alternative concert dubbed “Not Those Awards All-Star Latin Jazz Jam,” at Mama Juana’s nightclub in Studio City.
“Our movement to reinstate the 31 categories is growing. People from across the United States will watch the Grammys on Sunday and see a televised display of the shame, greed and discrimination that Grammy president Neil Portnow and his minority of industry insiders are imposing on the music of the majority. This is a travesty for anyone who loves music and community,” said Bobby Matos, a leader in with GrammyWatch and Presente and an Afro-Latin musician.
Grammy representatives were not available for interviews.