In the R&B Field, the academy will again divide Best R&B Album into two categories, as it did every year from 2002 through 2010. In those years, it presented both Best Contemporary R&B Album (the top winners were Beyonce with three and Usher with two) and Best R&B Album. Last year, it merged them. Next year, it will present Best Urban Contemporary Album in addition to the returning Best R&B Album. The academy says the new "category is intended for artists whose music includes the more contemporary elements of R&B and may incorporate production elements found in urban pop, urban Europop, urban rock and urban alternative."
The academy is offsetting this split by merging two other categories: Best Banda or Norteno Album and Best Regional Mexican Or Tejano Album. The name of the new category is Best Regional Mexican Music Album (including Tejano). (These were four separate categories in 2010, two last year and will be one next year.) According to an academy release, the new category will encompass not only banda, norteno and Tejano recordings, but also corridos, gruperos, mariachi and ranchera.
In the Classical Field, the academy is adding a new category, Best Classical Compendium. The award is for a multi-artist collection containing at least 51% playing time of newly recorded material by various soloist(s) and/or ensemble(s) involving a mixture of classical subgenres.
Also in the Classical Field, the Best Small Ensemble Performance category has been renamed Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.
With these additions, the Classical Field will have eight categories, more than any other field. The R&B and Jazz Fields will each have five categories, as many as Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music and American Roots Music. They will have more than Pop, Rock, Rap, Country and Latin, which will remain at four categories each.
The academy also announced that it will present a Music Educator of the Year award at its annual Special Merit Awards ceremony (at which it presents Lifetime Achievement Awards, Trustees Awards and Technical Grammys). The award will recognize educators "who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools." Oddly, this new and presumably important award won't be given next year. It will first be presented in February 2014, 20 months from now. (Memo to the academy: Huh?)
These changes were ratified by the academy's Trustees at the annual Trustees Meetings, which were held in Los Angeles May 23-25. (These meetings used to be held in more exotic, far-flung locales, but the academy, like the music industry itself, is feeling financial pressures these days.)
The eligibility year for the 55th Grammy Awards is Oct. 1, 2011 to Sept. 30, 2012. The nominations will be announced on a one-hour live TV special on Dec. 5.
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