Grammys: Hawaiian category dropped
BY GARY CHUN / email@example.com
The Grammys’ Best Hawaiian Music Album award is now obsolete.
As part of the biggest overhaul in the 53-year history of the Grammy Awards, the Best Hawaiian Music Album category and a host of others have been deleted from the prestigious competition sponsored by The Recording Academy.
Starting next year, nominated Hawaiian albums will have to compete in the newly formed best regional roots music album category, along with albums from other deleted categories such as native American and zydeco/Cajun.
“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,” said an Academy statement explaining the changes.
“This has a pattern/precedent in regional Mexican music and would incorporate Hawaiian, Cajun/zydeco, native American, and polka music (which has a regional home in the Great Lakes states).”
“There’s still a home for Hawaiian albums to submit for Grammy consideration,” said Barb Dehgan, vice president of communications and media relations for The Recording Academy in a phone interview today with the Star-Advertiser. “It’s just that the best regional roots music album category is much broader and more inclusive.”
Hawaiian music had been a separate category only since 2005. The 2011 Grammy for best Hawaiian music album was awarded in February to Tia Carrere’s “Huana Ke Aloha.” Carrere also took home the Grammy in 2009.
Hawaii-born Daniel Ho, the Los Angeles musician-businessman whose Daniel Ho Creations produced the last five Hawaiian music Grammy winners, said restructuring of the Grammy categories “doesn’t change anything I do, but I’m hoping the craziness (surrounding the Hawaiian Grammys) will go away. Each year I get beat up and that stuff goes viral.”
The Grammy successes of Ho and Carrere have been slammed by some who say academy voters don’t hold an appropriate appreciation for Hawaiian music. There has also been grumbling that the pair live and work in Los Angeles, giving them an inside track in the music industry.
Ho also mentioned he will return to the islands “for an informal performance” (venue not disclosed) with Carrere on April 21.
Michael Cord, chief executive officer of HanaOla Records, said he thought the Grammy restructuring “was a long time coming, but I’m sorry to see (the Hawaiian music album category) go.”
At a press conference today in Los Angeles, officials with The Recording Academy announced that the total number of categories would drop from 109 to 78 starting with the next nomination cycle. Other changes require each category to have at least 40 entries instead of 25, and categories that receive between 25 and 39 will have only three nominations instead of four or five.
If a category gets fewer than 25 entries, it will be removed for that year, and if it happens three years in a row, the category will be discontinued and the material will find a new home in a related genre.
Categories in the American roots music field have been consolidated from nine awards (best Americana album, bluegrass album, traditional blues album, contemporary blues album, traditional folk album, contemporary folk album, Hawaiian music album, native American music album and zydeco/Cajun music album) to five (Americana, bluegrass, blues, folk and regional roots).
The Academy explained that the traditional and contemporary blues categories and the traditional and contemporary folk categories “each were consolidated into one per genre, due to the number of entries and given the challenges in distinguishing between contemporary folk and Americana and contemporary and traditional blues.”
The remaining genres were placed in the regional roots music category along with polka.
“It ups the game in terms of what it takes to receive a Grammy and preserves the great esteem of with its held in the creative community, which is the most important element,” Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow told the Associated Press.
While the Academy has adjusted its rules and adapted to industry changes over the years, this is first major examination of the awards structure, a process that took more than a year, he said.
“Every submission will continue to have a home,” said Portnow at this morning’s press conference.
He said a comprehensive evaluation of the awards structure was started in 2009 by The Recording Industry’s awards and nominations committee. The proposed changes were then voted on and approved by the group’s national board of trustees.
“Years of entries were analyzed (and) promoting unity in the music community outweighed inclinations against change,” said trustee and producer Jimmy Jam at the press conference.
Detailed information on the category changes can be found at www.grammy.com/announcement. A live video chat with Portnow and Freimuth started at noon Hawaii time at the Recording Academy’s Livestream and Facebook pages. Questions are being taken via Facebook or Twitter.
Star-Advertiser staffer John Berger and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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