The Grammy nominations

Dec 01

The Grammy nominations came out recently. I’ll talk about them a bit on the radio this weekend but thought I’d expand briefly here.

Every artist nominated is white; four of the five are white men. At a time when, more than at any point during the fifteen-plus years we’ve been doing this show, I believe there are more BIPOC folks making family music, and when so much of that music that is amazing, it is inexplicable that this would be the slate of nominees.

(Actually, it is entirely explicable, but not for any good reasons.)

Pierce Freelon; SaulPaul; Lucky Diaz; Jazzy Ash–the list literally goes on and on. Pierce’s record was the best family record of the year.

It is true that many of the nominated records had non-white artists on them. Cool. Whether it is as it should be or not, it is inarguable that the name that is nominated is far more noticed than the supporting players.


I commend to you this statement by the Family Music Forward organization, an organization taking a vital lead role in dismantling racism and white supremacy in family music. You’ll recognize many of the founding members as folks who have appeared on the show, often guest hosting (June of this year I dedicated almost entirely to shows guest hosted by people of color). You’ll hear more from them in the future on the show as well. I’m going to keep listening to them and amplifying their voices.

I also commend to you WeeNationRadio. You’ll recall that Devin guest hosted the show just a few months ago; you can listen to that now. His work is essential.

The Grammys have never been a huge deal to me; I’ve noted that before. But they are unquestionably a central part of how musicians are recognized and they make a real difference in the artists’ lives, as I understand it.

The records nominated are very good records, every one of them made by friends of mine. But any process that results in that slate is a fundamentally broken process. If I were a nominee, I’d like to think that I would choose not to be part of that process until it gets fixed, including this year. Declining a nomination is absolutely a sacrifice; it seems like a small one to make to noisily reject the process that led to this.

Note: as of December 9, three nominees—Alastair Moock, Dog on Fleas, and The Okee Dokee Brothers—have written to the Academy asking not to be listed on the ballot. I do not think this was because of my post, to be clear; I am glad they did so.

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