Latin jazz musicians to protest outside of the Grammy Awards

When the Grammy Awards revealed last year that they were reducing the number of award categories from 109 down to 78, it didn’t take much time for those affected to show their displeasure.

While in some cases the cuts were made to eliminate gender-based awards in the “major” categories such as rock, country and R&B, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences also eliminated certain genres all together, such as zydeco, traditional blues and Latin jazz.

While the response from the affected musicians following the announcement last April was immediate and angry, the powers that be seemed to be set in their ways, and as the Grammy Awards approach this weekend, there were no signs of the NARAS changing their mind.

National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Logo

Recently, a spokesman for the recording artists who filed a lawsuit against the NARAS said that there would be a protest and concert the same night as the Grammy Awards, February 12th. The protest will take place outside of the Staples Center where the Awards are being held in order to better help make their side of the situation known. Additionally, a concert will take place called “Not Those Awards All-Star Latin Jazz Jam,” featuring a variety of previous nominees or award winners from eliminated categories.

Rev. Jesse Jackson has also recently spoke out against the removal of the categories, writing a letter the the NARAS president asking him for a meeting to discuss the reinstatement of these categories.

Chucho Valdes & The Afro-Cuban Messengers were the last winners in the Best Latin Jazz Album category for the album Chucho’s Steps.

According to, The four Latin jazz musicians, who filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court in New York on Aug. 2, are Ben Lapidus, Mark Levine, Eugene Marlow and Bobby Sanabria. They are not seeking compensation, but they believe their careers are being severely harmed by the elimination of their category in a breach by NARAS’ “contractual obligations” and that the elimination of Latin jazz causes “irreparable injury to the members of the Recording Academy.”

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences did not consult its rank and file members before making the cuts in the awards.

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