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How to [Maybe] Get a Reggae Grammy Nomination

The GRAMMY Nomination Process Simplified

By M. Peggy Quattro

Grammy Award and Logo

Since 1958, the GRAMMYs have celebrated music excellence. It is the music community’s highest honor & its only peer-based award.

The GRAMMY is awarded to musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers, & industry professionals.

Inside Jamaica’s Reggae community, there’s always much discussion about the USA GRAMMY Awards, especially the highly coveted Best Reggae Album Award.

Ever since the first Reggae GRAMMY went to Black Uhuru in 1985 (when it was called Best Reggae Recording), there’s been dissension in the Reggae family, along with confusion, arguments, debates, & disagreements surrounding why someone was nominated…or why not.

Let’s start with some facts: currently, there are  30 fields (General, Pop, Rock, Reggae, etc.) to be considered, as well as 84 distinct award categories across those fields. The Reggae category is for “an album containing at least 51% playing time of new Reggae recordings.”

To be clear, I am not an Academy member or a Reggae GRAMMY expert. However, I join others who are interested in how the “final five” selection comes about. So, I set out to educate myself & now I can share what I’ve learned with you.

What follows is information on the Recording Academy, how to join, & the GRAMMY Nomination process. Academy links are provided for more info. I truly hope this helps answer the countless questions as to how, when, who, and why a Reggae album ultimately acquires this sought-after recognition.


FIRSTLY – JOIN THE ACADEMY

Like the GRAMMY Awards, Recording Academy membership is community-driven & peer-reviewed on an annual cycle. Pay attention to the dates & deadlines!

You must be invited to join. To be considered for an invitation:

  1. Get two strong recommendations from music industry peers. (Click this link to learn how to get recommendations.)
  2. Your profile is completed only after your recommendations are received by the Academy & you tell them more about your career.* Profiles must be complete by midnight on March 1 to be considered for that year’s class.
    *Candidates will receive an email with a link & candidate code to complete their career profile.

New member submissions are considered by the Recording Academy’s Peer Review Panel each spring, & will approve memberships at its sole discretion after assessing your submission. 

Grammy Award photo If approved by Peer Review, candidates are invited to join the Recording Academy by July 9 and have until that year’s GRAMMY Awards voting deadline to accept.

*Become a Recording Academy member here*

 THE WHO & HOW

Who can enter recordings for consideration? Do I qualify?

The Recording Academy accepts entries online from Professional & Voting Members, as well as registered media companies. Members are permitted to submit their own eligible recordings as well as the recordings of their peers for consideration.

How do media companies submit product for GRAMMY consideration?

Record labels, distribution companies & management firms qualify as media companies. Media companies must register with the Recording Academy every year to submit/enter recordings. Once your media company registration has been confirmed, the Awards department will send the media company’s designated administrator detailed submission instructions.  More Academy FAQ’s here.


“The Reggae GRAMMY Category does need some change. But change won’t happen if Reggae artists are on the menu…but NOT at the table.”  ~Barbara Johnson, Media Exec


Read This Interesting  Committee Background

I highly recommend you read this clip from a 2014 article by friend, writer & major Dancehall & Reggae enthusiast ROB “Boomshots” KENNER. He tells of his experience as an Academy Screening Committee member while raising a few very interesting questions. (More on the process below.)

ROB:  “[The] screening committee goes through every single album that had been submitted—usually by record labels, but sometimes by members of the Recording Academy. (In a category like reggae, where much of the music is produced by smaller independent labels who may not be familiar with the GRAMMY entry process, the best records are sometimes not even submitted.)

“Members of that committee were not supposed to concern ourselves with quality—our job was to determine whether each album belonged in the reggae category. The rules stated that 51% of the album’s tracks had to consist of reggae music (a genre that includes such disparate styles as roots reggae, ska, dub, and dancehall.)


“…Famous people tend to get more votes from clueless Academy members, regardless of the quality of their work.”


“…Famous people tend to get more votes from clueless Academy members, regardless of the quality of their work. This is especially true in specialized categories like reggae…That’s the reason why famous names like Marley, Toots, and Sly & Robbie stand a much better chance of winning in the reggae category than, say, Beres Hammond.

[Rob soon paid his membership fee and joined the Recording Academy as a voting member. His story continues:] “Here’s how the process works: Voting members review lists of all the eligible recordings in each category (the ones generated by screening committees like mine.)

“Members are supposed to vote only in their fields of expertise—and in a maximum of 9 out of the 31 fields on the ballot… A few categories are reserved for special nominating committees, but frankly—not enough… In the final voting process, members are allowed to vote in even more categories—up to 20, plus the 4 general categories.

“Bottom line: the vast majority of the nominations are chosen by people who have little real expertise in a given field. I refrained from voting in heavy metal and classical because I know very little about those genres. But I could have if I wanted to, and that strikes me as a problem.”   Read Rob’s entire 2014 Complex.com article here.


“We don’t need a dancehall category…that would set us back…people are being fooled about separating dancehall from reggae…We’re always trying to create something instead of focusing on what we have and building that.” ~Ibo Cooper, JaRia


NOW, HERE’S THE PROCESS…

SUBMISSION
It begins with members & record companies submitting entries, which are then screened for eligibility and category placement. The Academy’s voting members, all involved in the creative & technical processes of recording, then participate in (1) the nominating process that determines the five finalists in each category; & (2) the final voting process which determines the GRAMMY winners.

SCREENING
After review by 350 experts in various fields, the screening committee places the album in its proper category. No artistic or technical judgments about the recordings are made. The entries move on to the nominating committee.

NOMINATING
First-round ballots are sent to voting members in good dues standing. To help ensure the quality of the voting, members are directed to vote only in their areas of expertise; they may vote in up to 15 categories in the genre fields plus the four categories of the General Field (Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, & Best New Artist.) Ballots are tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Deloitte.

FINAL VOTING   (Note: This is where I’m a little confused. The Reggae category is not sent to a Nominations Review Committee–see graphic below–before the final vote. The Reggae nominees selected from the first nominating committee go right to final vote, with no review. Maybe someone reading this can explain it to us.)grammy voting graphic Final-round ballots are then sent to voting members in good dues standing. In this final round, Recording Academy members may vote in up to 15 categories in the genre fields plus the four categories of the General Field.

So good people, that’s how it’s done!


More Helpful Info:

Key Dates for 2020-2021

  • Sept. 1, 2019—Aug. 31, 2020Product Eligibility Period
  • Sept. 30—Oct. 12, 2020: First-Round Voting—eligible members vote to determine the 2021 nominees!
  • Nov. 24: Nominations Announcement!
  • Dec. 7, 2020—Jan. 4, 202: Final-Round Voting—this round determines the GRAMMY winners!
  • Jan. 31, 2021: 63rd GRAMMY Awards & Premiere Ceremony (8 p.m.CBS)

Check it! Recent Academy Changes

You will notice that any terms that include the word urban* have been removed from category titles. The Recording Academy stated in November 2020 “that describing music as ‘urban’ and ‘urban contemporary’ has ‘historically been used as a way to separate Black artists’ from the (white) artistic mainstream.”
*Exception, one Latin category… go figure. 

2020 grammy award logoOther changes announced involve Best New Artist parameters & taking a closer look at all possible conflicts of interest.

Interestingly, “the Academy members who serve on its so-called nomination reviews committees, which determine the final nominees in most award categories, must disclose any connections they have to potentially nominated artists and projects.”

“Two glaring disclosures only now being asked are:  (1) Do you have any “immediate family ties” to a potential nominee? And (2) Will you as a voter, have any “direct or indirect financial ties” to a project or artist under consideration?”

But, as with all vague changes & GRAMMY nominations, there are questions, controversies, and contention. 

LASTLY – ABOUT PROMOTION

Labels, artists & media companies are welcome to promote their album but must follow these Voting & Solicitation Guidelines, i.e., voters may not accept money or anything of value for a vote, no agreement to trade votes, & voters must not be influenced in any other way other than their own analysis of merit.


I hope this helps you understand the GRAMMY Awards nomination & voting process. If you like this info or have a question, say so in the comments below.

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3 Ways Reggae Music Will Calm Your World

By M. Peggy Quattro
Reggae Report Magazine, Founder/Publisher

reggae flag on beachThere’s no doubt today’s world is a tumultuous place. We are faced with far too many “isms and schisms”: racism, capitalism, socialism, fascism, communism, authoritarianism, totalitarianism. For the past 50+ years, there’s been one constant that has helped humankind deal with the noise and commotion — the peaceful inner protest encapsulated in Reggae’s one-drop rhythm. Being well established in the Reggae movement for more than 35 years, I am sharing with you three ways I believe Reggae music delivers its message to a world of like-minded souls.

ONE

1) Reggae is often associated with ganja (aka marijuana/grass/weed/herb) and the ensuing euphoria this combination creates. However, by using the music’s heartbeat “riddim” wisely, Reggae captures our inner core. We instinctively dance and sing, even when we don’t understand all the Jamaican words, but ultimately it’s the music’s message that brings humanity together in harmony. We must thank the much-maligned and persistent Rastafari for educating the outside world on ganja’s health and spiritual benefits. Their peaceful and simple way of life is also rooted in political and socio-economic issues; their influence on Reggae’s growth, evolution, and contribution to Reggae history is undeniable. Continue reading

MPQ’s Letter to JA Editors – June 2008

Greetings!  I sent this letter, twice actually, to the editors and writers of the Jamaica Gleaner and Observer after reading Prime Minister Golding’s official statement declaring that ‘it is time for a comprehensive reggae marketing plan.’ I enthusiastically replied as a member of the reggae community, a fan, and a concerned world citizen. Since they didn’t publish it, and in order to share these thoughts and suggestions with the global community, here is my letter. If you would like to respond or comment, please write me.

Dear Editor:
As a 27-year Reggae industry veteran, I was ecstatic to read Prime Minister Golding’s acknowledgement that it is “time for a comprehensive marketing plan for Reggae music.” In recognizing Reggae’s importance on a level equal to tourism, I commend his initiative to create a strategy that will not only positively promote Reggae, but also address the negativity that has pervaded the world stage. The prime minister’s official May 26 release appeared on websites in the USA, France, Czechoslovakia, Japan, and Thailand, attesting to Jamaica and Reggae’s international interest. Nearly 40 years old, Reggae is recognized as “Jamaica’s greatest musical export,” and the time to protect its hard-earned reputation is now.

From 1996 to 2007, several studies, written locally and abroad, have addressed Reggae, Jamaica, and the importance of global marketing. The link between the two is undeniable; Reggae is part of Jamaica’s image in the tourist market. The plan is already there, studied and presented by scholars, music professionals, politicians, and journalists. Central to the solution is the Internet. The possibilities for e-commerce, digital download, creativity, and wide-ranging national and cultural promotion – when well organized and managed – will create extensive employment opportunities and contribute considerably to Jamaica’s economy.

I commend all foundation Reggae artists and professionals who achieved success and shaped a world sensation before the Internet. Young artists have benefited from this groundwork, and any action on their part to dishonor such achievement must, and will be, addressed. Although abundant, “talent alone is not sufficient to build a competitive music industry.” Effective business organization requires entrepreneurs, intellectual property protection, access to financing, education, training, new technology, and the expertise of the private and public sectors.

Today, negativity surrounding Dancehall artists who endorse homosexual violence or degrade women has marked a decline in creative talent. The positive message of 70s and 80s Reggae is being overshadowed by the recent era of negative lyrics. Citing Bible passages as the reason for this rhetoric is narrow-minded and selective. Unfortunately, this phenom has left Jamaica, where fans may enjoy or encourage such talk, and travelled abroad where large numbers of fans – gay or not – find the content offensive. Dancehall artists who endorse or participate in ‘gay bashing’ are bringing great global harm to Reggae’s reputation and 40-year history. How will it stop? Education. Opportunity. Cooperation. Action. Addressing this problem is the beginning of a solution. Get up, stand up. To plan for Reggae’s future, we must first believe in Reggae’s future.

M. Peggy Quattro
ReggaeReport.com & Reggae Report Publisher
Miami, Florida
June 5, 2008

Artists Willing to Change Lyrics

In Response to Buju Banton’s call for unity:

Artistes Willing to Change Lyrics

By Teino Evans, Entertainment Coordinator, The Star Online

May 15, 2008 – Kingston, Jamaica – Following Buju Banton’s call for other artistes to clean up their music, some have answered the challenge and are in agreement that some change in lyrics need to take place. Buju issued an appeal to his fellow entertainers to clean up their lyrics in order to help Jamaica to recover from its present social decay.

The deejay, who posted a message in his newsletter, The Gargamel Gleaner, said, “We are suffering a social decay yet not one, not a single one of our entertainers, has seen the need for a change in the lyrical content they are selling.”

However, that estimation may not be entirely accurate. Veteran dancehall artiste, Lady Saw, although admitting to performing “raw songs” in the past, told The STAR, “I’m down with cleaning up the music.” Saw said that this must to something that every artiste is willing to do if it is going to have any effect on the tone of the music. Continue reading

Buju Banton Speaks Out 2008

A Few Words From Gargamel Himself – Buju Banton Speaks Out…

May 12, 2008 – Kingston, Jamaica
Greetings, good people of the earth! I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the love and support over the years and for your continued support in the future.

By now most have already heard about the separation between myself and Penthouse Music Group. Let me assure you that it was one of mutual understanding, and that I sincerely wish Mr. Donovan Germain all the best. With much respect, I say to Mr. Germain, thank you for the many years of service and for the eye-opening experience.

To the haters, hate on. To the well-wishers, we will be victorious because JAH LIVE. As for me personally, I am fine. Glad I now have the medium to communicate to my fans and friends all over the world. Continue reading

Has Reggae Lost its Value?

Has Reggae Lost its Value?

By Maria Jackson

March 21, 2008 – Is Reggae music the only genre that releases hundreds of singles on a daily basis? I honestly do not know. However, what I do know is that the way we handle our business in the Reggae industry is affecting its monetary value.

Jamaica releases approximately 600 new songs daily. There are literally hundreds of producers spread out across the island. Some are your well-established heavyweights, while others are simply working with a drum machine at home. Whatever their situation, these producers drum up music by the minute. And, in an effort to be the next big thing or to maintain current momentum, they basically give away their music, all in the name of promotion. Continue reading

MPQ Response to Solidarity Editorial 2008

In Response to the editorial “Solidarity is What We Need”

by M. Peggy Quattro
February 14, 2008

Greetings! In response to this editorial above, which was a bulletin posted on MySpace by Lloyd Stanbury, I hereby agree with several points he adeptly brings to our attention. The image of Jamaica as a corrupt and violent society is constantly being presented to the world. Every country has degrees of these elements, but the Land of Reggae, the Land of Wood and Water, the Land of One Love, has taken a turn for the worse.

Since the beginning of Dancehall in the late ‘80s, when lyrics were degrading women and praising the gun culture, the seeds of destruction were sown. Playing our part in the media, Reggae Report chose not to support or encourage this new type of performance. No where near the quality of Dennis Brown’s “Love Has Found its Way” or the driving call to “Get Up! Stand Up!,” early Dancehall artists brought in such sleaze as “Wicked Inna Bed,” calling for “Bam Bam…Lick a shot on mama-man’s head.” The media helped make performers, such as Shabba Ranks, a so-called star. What followed was an audience trained to think this was the new direction of Reggae music.

Bob Marley said it best: “You have to be careful of the type of song, and the type of vibration that you give to the people…because ‘Woe be unto they who lead my people astray.’” Continue reading