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Angry Musicians Want Their Latin Jazz Grammy Category Back


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While news that the Grammys are cutting 31 categories from its bloated award show sat well with viewers (us included), some folks are less than pleased with the decision to dump what they see as opportunities to honor ethic music. At a press conference in Beverly Hills yesterday, a coalition of performers protested the restructuring of the Latin field (downsized from seven Grammys to four) and the removal of the Latin Jazz Album Grammy from the Jazz field. "We will not be disenfranchised," the group wrote in a letter to the Grammys.

Paul Simon and Herbie Hancock both support the coalition, and Carlos Santana, who just last week accosted Atlanta-area baseball fans over anti-immigration laws, also protested the slimming of the Grammy field. "To remove Latin Jazz and many other ethnic categories is doing a huge disservice to the brilliant musicians who keep the music vibrant for their fans -- new and old," Santana wrote.

Musician Bobby Sanabria, the leader of the coalition and a four-time nominee in the now-extinct Latin Jazz category, also demanded that Grammy CEO Neil Portnow resign, adding that the removal and/or homogenizing of the categories was "a subtle form of racism." "I believe the Grammys have done a disservice to many talented musicians by combining previously distinct and separate types of music into a catch-all of blurry larger categories," Paul Simon wrote in support. "They deserve the separate Grammy acknowledgements that they've been afforded until this change eliminated them."

"In this year's awards, there were 34 mainstream categories. Next year, with the changed revision, there will be 20 mainstream categories," Portnow said earlier this week. "That's a significant reduction in mainstream areas. In non-mainstream categories there were 71. In the upcoming 54th awards, there will be 54." Perhaps he was trying to discourage hard rockers from forming their own coalition to protest its merge with its much-louder cousin metal.

[Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images]

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