Carlos Santana, Paul Simon Protest Cuts to Grammy Categories


A coalition of musicians alleges that ethnic music was unfairly targeted by the changes, which are in effect for 2012 awards.

Carlos Santana and Paul Simon are among a coalition of musicians voicing opposition to the Recording Academy's elimination of 30 Grammy Award categories. The artists are  demanding the reinstatement of the categories, which were eliminated last month to make the Grammys more competitive, according to Grammy president and CEO Neil Portnow.

The group, led by four-time Latin jazz Grammy nominee Bobby Sanabria, plan to protest the cuts at Thursday's academy board meeting, notes the Associated Press. The coalition alleges that the cuts unfairly targeted ethnic music and were agreed upon without the input of academy members.

Santana and his drummer wife Cindy Blackman Santana wrote in a letter to the academy, "To remove Latin jazz and many other ethnic categories is doing a huge disservice to the brilliant musicians who keep the music vibrant for their fans -- new and old. We strongly protest this decision and we ask you to represent all of the colors of the rainbow when it comes to music."

Simon said in a letter to Portnow, "I believe the Grammys have done a disservice to many talented musicians by combining previously distinct and separate types of music into a catch-all of blurry larger categories. They deserve the separate Grammy acknowledgements that they've been afforded until this change eliminated them."

Portnow contends that the cuts affect categories across the board. He told AP, "In this year's awards there were 34 mainstream categories. Next year there will be 20 mainstream categories. In non-mainstream categories there were 71. In the upcoming 54th awards, there will be 54. Not only non-mainstream categories were affected here. The facts here don't play that out."

Portnow also defended the decision-making process behind the eliminations, saying that a committee discussed the changes for a year and a half and will review the affects of the cuts for the 2013 awards.

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