Thursday 4 August 2011, 11:47 | By

Musicians sue over Grammy category merging

Awards Legal

The Grammy Awards

Only in America, as they say. The campaign to stop Grammy organisers from merging certain niche categories has gone legal.

As previously reported, as part of various changes planned for next year’s big awards weekend, some instrumental categories at the Grammys are being phased out, and Hawaiian, Native American, Zydeco/Cajun and polka gongs are being merged into a ‘regional roots’ award.

Artists active in affected genres have been grumbling with increasing volume on this issue, and this week musicians Bobby Sanabria and Mark Levine filed a lawsuit in New York in a bid to force Grammy bosses to reconsider. Don’t ask me on what legal grounds, it sounds more like a publicity stunt to me.

Certainly their lawyer Roger Maldonado was stronger on rhetoric than legal argument, telling reporters: “They [Academy bosses] shouldn’t have done this. Not only does it devalue the category of music and the work these musicians do, it makes it much harder for them to gain recognition. The concern is by lumping several categories together, it makes it much easier for larger record labels and those artists who have already gained recognition to dominate. Even being nominated for the award has enormous value for these musicians”.

Grammy organiser the Recording Academy called the lawsuit “frivolous”. Which is probably correct. But I like frivolity. Who’s up for suing the BRITs? I demand the reinstatement of the ‘Best Group Called Steps’ Award, which was last presented in 2000. To Steps.

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