When the Recording Academy slashed its Grammy Award categories from 109 to 78 in 2011, albums that would have competed in the Native American Album category were grouped in with polka, cajun/zydeco and Hawaiian music in a “regional roots music” category.
Over the past year, concerned Latin musicians, including Carlos Santana, Eddie Palmieri and Paquito Rivera, spoke out about the elimination of the Latin Jazz Album category, and a group launched a lawsuit, which failed, against the Recording Academy. On June 8, though, the Recording Academy announced changes to its categories for the 55th Grammy Awards, which will be handed out February 10, including the reinstatement of the Best Latin Jazz Album. The move, according to a Miami Herald report, “is being greeted by affected members as akin to losing a battle but winning the war.”
“I’m so happy,” Latin jazz musician Bobby Matos told the Herald. “We don’t go into Latin jazz to make a lot of money. We do it out of passion and love. That’s the only reason.”
Many Native musicians would no doubt say the same about why they do what they do. However, it would fall on deaf ears, at least this time around. The Best Native American Album category — along with categories for polka, cajun/zydeco and Hawaiian music — is not returning, and again work from these incredibly dissimilar genres will compete for the Best Regional Roots Music Album award.