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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.

1♥

 

Reggae Report Small Axe Awards-Oct. 25, 1986 w/Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru

The 1st Reggae Report Small Axe Awards & Show! And sadly, the only Awards show that featured winners that were voted for by the fans and readers of Reggae Report – Oct. 25, 1986 – Konover Hotel Theater, Miami Beach, FL

Update 2020: I have video of this unique awards show. It’s ready to be edited in iMovie. If anyone has iMovie skills & would like to advise me on how to make a decent video out of crazy footage & some bad sound, please reach out to me at mpq@reggaereport.com. 1Luv ~MPeggyQ

Continue reading

Carlton “Carlie” Grant – Spragga Benz Son

Spragga Benz’s Son, Carlton Grant, Jr., Killed by Kingston Police

Article and Photo by Brittany Somerset

Sept. 5, 2008 Kingston, Jamaica – A source in Jamaica, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, spoke exclusively to Brittany Somerset about the tragic, untimely demise of 17-year-old Carlton “Carlie” Grant, Jr, son of Reggae veteran Spragga Benz, who was allegedly murdered by police in downtown Kingston, late in the evening on August 23, 2008.

It’s reported that at approximately 11:50 p.m., Carlie and a friend were leaving a video game rental store on the corner of Church and East Queen St. The friend begins, “Carlie was stopped on his bicycle while coming from the store with a teenage friend. Police stopped him and told him to get off his bike, and he obeyed. He identified himself. He said, ‘I’m Spragga Benz’s son.’ The police smirked as if in disbelief. They did not think Spragga’s son would be in the ghetto, but he was visiting family. The police fired one shot into the air, and told them to run. Carlie’s friend took off running. Carlie stayed where he was, with his hands in the air. One of the policemen whispered something to a second officer, and the officer then shot him at point blank range in the face. They executed him. All reports of Carlie having a gun, firing at police, or running, are completely false. Carlie stayed at the scene, and declared himself. After they shot him once in the face, and when he collapsed to the ground, he was shot a second time. This was murder.” Continue reading

Rockers – The Book About the ’70s Reggae Movie

ROCKERS – The Making of Reggae’s Most Iconic Film

Rockers Book Cover(promo release) Set amongst the Reggae scene of late 70s Jamaica, the film Rockers achieved instant cult status among music and cinema fans. Rockers’ director, Ted Bafaloukos, has received many accolades for his work on the film, but the fact that he was also a fine writer and undercover photographer is often overlooked. Bafaloukos penned this vivid autobiography in 2005 and passed in 2016.

Beyond Bafaloukos’ fascinating story of the “making-of” Rockers, it tells the tale of a Greek immigrant from a family of sailors and his move to New York, eventually rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Velvet Underground, Robert Frank, Jessica Lange and Philippe “Man on Wire” Petit. But there’s a twist to this 1970s’ New York story: Bafaloukos fell in love with Reggae when it was still just an underground facet of Jamaican culture in the City. Continue reading

3 New Caribbean Queens – Reigning Over the Musical Landscape

3 New Caribbean Queens 

I’d like to introduce three island beauties who are taking the musical landscape by storm:  Lila Iké (Jamaica,) Krisirie (Barbados,) and Rochelle Chedz (Trinidad.) All three are in their mid-20s and have been performing since the mid-2010’s. All are songwriters, musicians, and have their roots in a mix of Hip-Hop, Dancehall, Reggae, Soca, R&B, and Neo-Soul. While staying true to their Caribbean roots and culture, each possesses a distinct vocal styling all their own. Their goal is to bring messages of hope and comfort in a time of turmoil and instability. I trust you’ll find these three young women each deserving of the crown.   ~MPeggyQ


Lila Iké       

Jamaica’s contribution to the Caribbean triad of roots and neo-soul singers is Lila Iké (Lee-lah Eye-kay.) This 26-year-old talent is from the cool hills of Manchester, the same area as her favorite singer, Garnet Silk.

Lila IkéWriting from an early age, Lila pursued music full time after moving to Kingston in 2015. She performed in spots where young performers hope to get noticed, and in 2017 she was, by the popular singer Proteje, who recognized her potential and became her mentor and first producer. In 2019, Lile Iké was performing solo on stages across Europe, including at Rototom, the largest Reggae festival in the world.

Influenced by her mother’s broad swath of musical predilections, the young Alecia Grey (her birth name – Lila came later in Kingston), incorporates a variety of styles in her repertoire – from old school Reggae, to Dancehall/Rap, from Neo-Soul to Reggaeton. She composes captivating lyrics while playing guitar or electric piano. It all adds up to the natural feel of her personal stories and the messages she wishes to share. Her fans can feel her intent with her sensual yet strong and relatable delivery. Continue reading

Update on the Passing of Reggae’s Toots Hibbert – Sept. 11, 2020

Toots RIP by LeeUpdate 9/11/2020:  It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Toots Hibbert last night, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. Toots was surrounded by family inside Kingston’s UWI Hospital when he lost his battle with COVID. The world mourns and offers condolences to the Hibbert family, Toots’s band & crew, his friends, and fans. Rest in peace, kind sir, your legacy lives on.


This intro below was written before Toots’ passing. It announces his new album, Got To Be Tough, his first in 10 years, released on Aug. 28, 2020. Follow the link to the story by Jason Fine included below for one of the best articles you’ll ever find on the life & music of Frederick “Toots” Hibbert.   ~M. Peggy Quattro

TOOTS HIBBERT,  the Godfather of Ska & Reggae Soul, returns to his roots on Got to be Tough, his first album in 10 years, released Aug. 28, 2020. Tracks on the new album include the title track, as well as “Warning Warning,” “Freedom Train,” and “Three Little Birds” featuring Ziggy Marley. The album is produced by Zak Starkey, son of Ringo Starr. Toots plays guitar and bass, Sly Dunbar is on drums, and one of the engineers is legend Delroy “Fatta” Pottinger.

Toots and the Maytals Got to be Tough Cover

Below is the intro to a recent article by Rolling Stones writer Jason Fine. It is the best story I’ve ever read about Jamaica’s music legend, Frederick “Toots” Hibbert. His family and friends call him “Nyah,” those who know and love him call him “Fireball.” Take a journey with Jason as he hangs out with Toots in 2016 to witness first-hand his musical magic and to record this interview of a lifetime. Those who know Toots – and those who want to – will surely enjoy the detail, history, and humor Jason brings to life in this Rolling Stone’s article. Trust mi, I laughed till I cried as Jason illustrates with words why Toots Hibbert is a treasure… our treasure. We are so blessed to have him in our lifetime. Enjoy! 

“He’s a person of such historical significance, like an Elvis or a BB King,…”  ~singer/musician Bonnie Raitt


A Reggae King Rises Again

Toots Hibbert is one of the pioneers of reggae — and wrote many of its classic hits. After a devastating injury, the man they call Fireball is back to reclaim his throne

By Jason Fine  Rolling Stone.com, Aug. 18, 2020

Toots Hibbert
Toots Hibbert ©Lee Abel

It took two years of phone calls and confusing negotiations to get myself invited to visit Toots Hibbert at his fortress-like pink stucco compound in the Red Hills section of Kingston, Jamaica. When I finally arrived, he wasn’t home. No one around seemed to know the whereabouts of the world’s greatest living reggae singer. His grandson, an aspiring reggae artist who calls himself King Trevi, was perched on some concrete steps and suggested that maybe Toots went to the gym. A woman hanging laundry on a rope strung across the dirt yard thought he’d gone to the country. Someone said he might be napping. Continue reading

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