08/03/11

Latin Jazz Musicians Sue Over Grammy Snub

Recording Academy eliminated 31 categories in April

A group of four Latin jazz musicians has filed suit against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), the organization behind the Grammy awards. The plaintiffs—Bobby Sanabria, Ben Lapidus, Mark Levine and Eugene Marlow—claim that NARAS’ decision to eliminate the Latin jazz category in April will negatively impact their ability to work and to compete in broader Grammy categories.

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Andrew Lepley

Bobby Sanabria

The plaintiffs requested the reinstatement of the Latin jazz category by the Academy.

The 20-page class-action lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Manhattan’s Supreme Court, claims “irreparable injury to the members of the Recording Academy,” according to a report by Billboard. NARAS eliminated 31 categories in an effort to streamline the awards process, stating that the Latin jazz artists would still be welcome to submit their music for consideration in related categories.

The plaintiffs argue that NARAS is in effect forcing Latin jazz artists to now compete in broader jazz categories against more mainstream artists, hurting their chance of winning an award.

Many musicians protested the change this spring, including Carlos Santana and Herbie Hancock, who signed a letter of protest that was delivered to NARAS. Paul Simon called the restructuring a “disservice to many talented musicians.”

Other categories that were eliminated by NARAS include Native American, Hawaiian and zydeco.

The Academy responded to the lawsuit by calling it “frivolous” and predicted they would prevail in court.

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