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Bronx-Born Jazz Musician Bobby Sanabria Sues Over Grammy Category Cuts

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Latin jazz artist Bobby Sanabria is proof-positive of the power of the Grammy Awards.

“As soon as I was nominated, people that never spoke to me started speaking to me,” Sanabria told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

The four-time nominated, Bronx-born percussionist’s career took off.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports: Renowned Musician Slams Grammys

Now, he is leading a class action lawsuit against the Recording Academy to ensure other aspiring artists get their big break.

Sanabria is demanding 31 cultural and ethnic categories that were cancelled from the Grammy Awards be reinstated. The Academy reduced its categories in April from 109 to 78.

The Associated Press reports Grammy President and CEO Neil Portnow has said the changes were properly implemented after an examination by a committee, then voted on by a board that represented its members.

Sanabria says the Recording Academy is putting popularity ahead of excellence and turning its back on countless artists.

He calls the organization’s decision racist.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s insidious, it’s disrespectful,” Sanabria said.

He is also calling for a boycott of the network CBS and advertisers.

“Any network that would support an organization that does not represent musical diversity, cultural diversity and really has frankly done something that’s really racist has to be questioned,” Sanabria said.

He claims artists from gospel and blues, to polka and classical are being disenfranchised.

CBS is scheduled to broadcast the awards show next February from Los Angeles.

The network has declined to comment.

Comments

One Comment

  1. ro daddy says:

    If Bobby doesn’t stand up to the muti million dollar organization that has massive sway over what the country is exposed to no one will. As proof of our countries growing disinterest in issues of cultural relevance and disregard for those cultures and ethnic groups that dont have a platform or recogntion just read the first few comments to this story. Too many people either don’t care about other the music of other cultures or take a pessimistic stance claiming that this is all a publicity stunt. This is artist’s taking a stand when he rest of us are comfortable sitting on our ass blogging about bullspit. Im glad Bobby and Santana as well as countless others are suing Portnow. The grammy’s should represent all the types of music made in this country not just the “popular” ones. The racism dislayed may not be overt or blatent but it is certainly ethnically insensitive and discriminatory.

  2. Glenn Davis says:

    I do believe the new categories will stand for reason.

    – Glenn Davis Doctor G

  3. badman says:

    WAKE UP EVERYBODY – this is a publicity stunt. he’s making up (many times over) the publicity he lost when his category was dropped, by suing the Grammy Awards.

  4. KPMc says:

    Oh no… they got rid of the Polka category?

    “Sanabria says the Recording Academy is putting popularity ahead of excellence and turning its back on countless artists.”

    An awards show is putting popularity before excellence? Shocking, absolutely shocking.

    ‘ “It’s ridiculous, it’s insidious, it’s disrespectful,” Sanabria said. … He claims artists from gospel and blues, to polka and classical are being disenfranchised. ‘

    Blues, gospel, polka and classical… yeah… i can see the common racist thread there.

    Finally…

    “Now, he is leading a class action lawsuit against the Recording Academy to ensure other inspiring artists get their big break.”

    Umm… I’m pretty sure from the context of the article you mean ASPIRING. Great work CBS!

    1. ro daddy says:

      Why the sarcastic tone? If this artist feels he has been insulted by the elimination of his genre of music what sense is it to ridicule his actions? It is his and all our rights to take civil action when injustices are being done in secret by the wealthy elite. Obviously you haven’t experienced anything similar or maybe you turn a blind eye to ethnic and cultural insensitivity, otherwise you wouldn’t have such a mocking tone. Like I said before if musicians don’t stand up for their rights people like you or anyone else sure won’t.

  5. Ken Angerstein says:

    Its an AWARD! There isn’t ANY obligation to give it to ANYBODY!!!!

    1. GrammyWatch says:

      Indeed it is a peer-based Award, given by musicians to musicians in recognition of of Musical and Artistic Excellence, not based on sales, ‘popularity’ or Neilsen ratings, which is what CBS wants after having just inked a new 10-year deal with NARAS a couple weeks ago. However, we now have a problem that the suits and the corporations have encroached on every area of the business, and where the musicians decide to this year’s Grammy for ‘Best New Artist’ to Esparanza Spalding over Justin Beiber, the Suits along with the vicious Beiber fans retaliated. And the current NARAS president Neil Portnow, instead of defending the musicians’ decision, ended up capitulating to the suits (see Rolling Stone, Mar. 4, 2011).

      On top of all that, NO One consulted with the 21,000 of the NARAS Membership or any of the Governors nor any of the musicians and producers who know what makes for the excellence in these musical styles, but instead made a decision in secret, then handed down a decision to its Members, as if it were a done deal. But it’s not over, it is just beginning.

      Check out www Grammywatch .org for more info, and sign onto the Petition to NARAS to Restore Musical Diversity to the Grammy Awards.

  6. Joseph says:

    I think that the protest is with the wrong organization , if he has a beef it should be resolved with the group behind the Grammy not a broadcaster of the event that does not dictate the categories.

  7. lydia says:

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    if the people behind the Grammys are racist. If that was the case then they would have eliminated the rap field, R&B field and Grammy award for best gospel song and album.

  8. Dale Auburn says:

    “Now, he is leading a class action lawsuit against the Recording Academy to ensure other inspiring artists get their big break.”

    In order to have standing to sue, he’ll have to prove that he PERSONALLY lost money due to the Academy’s decision. I don’t see how he can meet that burden.

  9. Da Capo says:

    Ah ,sorry to tell you the Latin market for music is huge ,I am sorry to
    see Western Classical Music”get the boot as well ,

    Awards are determined by the marketplace ,it may not be exactly racist
    to eliminate “Salsa”well maybe as a Harvard professor once said it is”Benign
    Neglect”..now that’s a nicer word.

  10. Victor Torres says:

    Mambo/ Salsa and Latin Jazz has been around ever since the early 1920 ‘s until the present time, it has capture audiences and fans of all races and nationalities worldwide! the problem here is the lack of knowledge and exposure of this beautiful music that is given very little respect! Big corporations have taken over radio stations and media outlets reducing listeners to very few choices on different types of music ! I want my child to be exposed to all kinds of music not just rap and pop n rock n roll !

  11. Chris says:

    rac·ism
    –noun
    1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

    So how is the elimination of categories that only apply to specific ethnic groups racist? Isn’t it more racist to have a category that only applies to a certain race? Isn’t the elimination of such a category the exact opposite of racist, in that it promotes equality amongst all?

    1. ro daddy says:

      how is eliminating 70 percent of the ethnic music genres promoting equality? all it is doing is dumbing down our society as a whole and neglecting latinos and their contributions to jazz and popular music and native american, mexican, etc? ANYONE can look up racism in a dictionary but it takes a whole other type of person to use their power to keep the less popular genres from even getting recognized. This is culturally insensitive and ignorant on behalf of the Borad of Trustees and President. HE and the Borad are out of touch with the world around them and only see black and white. They should be ADDING categories and supporting commmunties that put out the blues and cajun in places like New Orleans. Instead they choose to disregard them and take away their chance for any recognition.

  12. Joe Cool says:

    Vinegar Joe: There is an Annual Latin Music Award program. Mr. Sanabria is not just speaking for the Latin/Hispanic community, he mentions “31 cultural and ethinic categories” that were eliminated.

  13. Vinegar Joe says:

    So why don’t the Latin/Hispanic musicians set up their own award system?

  14. M.O 'Reilly says:

    I agree with Mr.Sanabria especially as a non Latino fan of Spanish language
    based music ,what better music for listening and dancing is there?
    By 2031 the majority of this countries population will be of people of different
    colors and not based on a WASP profile anymore.
    This being the case eliminating Salsa,Charanga,Mambo,Merengue & other
    great music from the Grammy broadcast is stupid ans will in time future be
    a costly mistake if not blatantly racist.

    1. Mike says:

      Yeah but he said it’s racism. Well if the people behind the Grammys are racist. If that was the case then they would have eliminated the rap field, R&B field and Grammy award for best gospel song and album.

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