Protests Mark Grammy Awards Decision to Delete 31 Categories of “Roots Music”

Musicians continue to fight, led by Presente.org & Grammy Watch

Los Angeles, CA — In a collective show of strength and unity, musicians representing Latin jazz, rock, blues, world and Native American music, fans of diverse musical genres, and community leaders protested today outside Staples Center, site of the 54th GRAMMY awards ceremony. They demanded the immediate restoration of music and cultural diversity to the GRAMMY awards by re-instituting all 31 GRAMMY music categories that were eliminated in April 2011 by GRAMMY president Neil Portnow and a small group of top executives of the National Association of Recording Artists (NARAS.) Some of these categories include: Latin jazz, traditional and contemporary blues, Hawaiian, Mexican Norteña, polka. Native American, R & B, gospel, traditional and contemporary jazz and Cajun/Zydeco. Speakers and community members also denounced the anti-democratic way in which the decision was made, as none of NARAS’ 21,000 voting members were consulted.
Following the protest the musicians and the community celebrated with a concert held from 5:00 pm-8:00 pm at the world-renowned Mama Juana’s nightclub in Studio City. The concert featured music representative of the 31 genres that were eliminated. An all-star band led by Ray Carrion was joined by many top Latin jazz musicians, including GRAMMYWatch organizers Sandy Cressman, Bobby Matos, John Santos (multiple GRAMMY nominee), Bobby Sanabria (multiple GRAMMY nominee,) and multiple GRAMMY award-winner Oscar Hernandez.

“The incredible response to our call for musical justice demonstrates that our movement to reinstate the 31 categories has deep roots, roots that are growing,” said Bobby Matos, a leader in the GRAMMYWatch movement to reinstate the deleted categories. “Viewers from across the country watching the GRAMMYs on Sunday didn’t just see the staged show Neil Portnow and the GRAMMY organization, NARAS, wanted the world to see. They saw musicians, they saw communities, they saw a growing movement to preserve music that roots most music that was awarded tonight.”

“Presente.org and its thousands of members joined forces with the musicians in order to tell Mr. Portnow and NARAS that they will cannot simply render our music irrelevant and think that we will simply stand by and leave the musicians alone,” said Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presente.org, the largest online Latino advocacy organization in the country and one of the main organizers of the protest. “Far from it. With more than 23,000 petition signers and lots of boots on the ground protesting the elimination of these categories, it’s very clear that we have a vibrant and growing movement to reinstate not just the 31 categories, but the self respect and dignity that comes with fighting for what we believe in. Portnow and NARAS are acting out of greed, but are inspiring us to defend what matters most: the culture and spirituality we find in our music.”