Grammy Awards Axe Native American Category

Vincent Schilling
4/25/11

At a press conference on April 6th, 2011, Neil Portnow, President and CEO of The Recording Academy, the organization famous for the Grammy Awards, announced a restructuring of Grammy categories across all genres and fields. Failing to make the cut in 2012 is the Native American Album category; albums formerly eligible for the award will now compete with entries from such other genres as Hawaiian, Zydeco/Cajun and polka, for the Best Regional Roots Music Album trophy.

At the press conference, Portnow was joined by Academy Board Chair Emeritus and five-time Grammy winner Jimmy Jam and Vice President of Awards Bill Freimuth.

“Every year, we diligently examine our awards structure to develop an overall guiding vision and ensure that it remains a balanced and viable process," said Portnow. "After careful and extensive review and analysis of all categories and fields, it was objectively determined that our Grammy categories be restructured to the continued competition and prestige of the highest and only peer-recognized award in music. Our Board of Trustees continues to demonstrate its dedication to keeping The Recording Academy a pertinent and responsive organization in our dynamic music community."

Additionally, due to the restructuring, a minimum of 40 distinct artist entries (up from a previous 25) will be required in each category. If a category receives between 25-39 entries, only three recordings will receive nominations that year. If there are fewer than 25 entries, that category will go on hiatus for the year—with no award given. If a category receives fewer than 25 entries for three consecutive years, the category will be discontinued and submissions will be entered in the next most appropriate category.

According to the Grammy website, “There has been a great deal of concern over the consistently low entries in the Hawaiian, Native American and Cajun/Zydeco Categories. It was believed best to continue to honor such regional music, but to do it all together, recognizing the very cream of this crop, with one category: Regional Roots Music.”

Grammy officials are calling the change an "evolution of the Grammy Awards process."

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