Grammys: Hawaiian category dropped

Apr. 6, 2011 | 11 Comments


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 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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  • Anonymous

    The real story of the Hawaiian Grammy category will be told on Monday at the 15th Annual Hawaii Music Awards. The recording industry people there will learn for the first time why the Hawaiian Grammy category was doomed from the start.

  • Anonymous

    I’d rather be number one among my peers and demographics than number one among strangers. I think here in the islands we have so much pride in our music that receiving a Na Hoku award means so much more. Should an island performer attain a Grammy now, then it will be a national hit, ala “Rainbow” for Iz. No worries gang. Where’s the next jam?

    • Anonymous

      You must be a failed musician, that’s how they all talk

      • Anonymous

        No, not a musician, and I haven’t failed. Have you noticed the influence of Iz’s version of ‘Rainbow’ lately? It was used this past week on Dancing with the Stars, and has been imitated in a few other shows and commercials. All the imitations and covers are a reflection of how true and beautiful the music influenced by Hawaii and Hawaiians is. The objective of music is to bring happiness to the listener, and joy from the musician. No statue can guarantee that. Laters dude, I’m gonna listen to my iPod.

        • Anonymous

          Yeah, for sure, that’s how the rest of the world hears “Hawaiian” music. They think that Iz’s SOTR is what it should sound like. That, and Tiny Bubbles. Therefore, Tia’s record is fabulous and fits right in, no?

          SOTR isn’t remotely Hawaiian so why don’t the ranters get down on Iz? he sings in English, it’s written by a haole, the ukulele is from Portugal… least Tia sang in Hawaiian. The objective of music is NOT only happiness. It can be sadness, laughter, violence and everything in-between.

          Name one “authentic” Hawaiian song that has seen any success outside Hawaii?

          • Anonymous

            Aloha ‘oe. Pau.

  • rsa

    In compensation for dropping of this category, just ensure that the Recording Academy do their work from studios in LosAngeles or where ever they flew in from. Isn’t it wonderful how they can record in Hawaii and declare the host culture persona-non-grata, or non-exsistant. They’d care less if the name for this state was changed to Waka-waka, as long as cash flows in.

    • Anonymous

      Lotta hate in that statement. What happened to your “aloha?”

  • Anonymous

    Ironic that Bruddah Iz is basically known for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – a haole written song and Iz sings it in haole English!

  • Anonymous

    I noticed the entertainment lineup for “Kokua for Japan” has been taken over by haole musicians. Why is that?

    • LocalBoy4Japan

      GentGolfHack, not sure what the haole “resentment” is about nor referencing to in your last two posts but it doesn’t seemed warranted at all. Instead of scrutinizing the lineup of “haoles” you should be respecting the cause. This is for charity. “Haoles” like Jack Johnson and Willie Nelson are internationally recognized stars. They are donating their time in the name of human kind and not for individual race recognition. Are you saying that you’re not willing to support fellow humans in japan just cause a bunch of haoles are the headliners?

      Please take a look at the lineup… Several acts like Ho’onua and C&K are reuniting specifically for this event. They have put aside any reasons for not continuing their own groups together for this charitable event.

      No one knows the reason why “authentic” Hawaiian musicians are not included except the organizers. Perhaps they were offerered to participate but they declined or they had prior obligations… NOTE, most of the “headliners” do not have regular paying gigs at hotels or venues on the weekend like most local bands or “authentic” Hawaiian acts do…

      I think you need to put down your own views for a second and compliment the acts performing.performing