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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♥

 

The Murder of Reggae Legend Peter Tosh 1987 History

THE TRAGIC DEMISE OF “MYSTIC MAN” PETER TOSH –  V5#5 1987

By M. Peggy Quattro

The mystery surrounding the violent death of Reggae Superstar PETER TOSH is as complex and mysterious as the man himself.  The many reports, stories, assumptions, and speculations leave a shroud of doubt and suspicion in staggering proportions.

What a dark day for Reggae and a sad and shameful day for mankind.

What is known to date is that on the evening of Friday, September 11, 1987, three gunmen on motorcycles entered Tosh’s Plymouth Avenue residence in Barbican, Kingston, Jamaica. Apparently known by Tosh, the three were in the house for a short while before the massacre began. What a dark day for Reggae and a sad and shameful day for mankind. One of the killers, Dennis Lobban, turned himself into the Kingston Police only days later, following a warrant issued for his arrest and the involvement of Interpol (the international police force.) Two others are still being detained, their names as yet unannounced.

A Robbery Gone Wrong

The first to be fired upon was Marlene Brown, long-time girlfriend and Tosh’s current manager and accountant. Winston “Doc” Brown was shot and killed on the spot, with Peter being shot several times and reportedly beat about the head. He died hours later at the University of the West Indies Hospital.  Radio personality Jeff “Free I” Dixon also received shots to the head resulting in his death days later. Also wounded were Free I‘s wife Joy, Peter’s drummer Carlton “Santa” Davis, and another friend named Michael Robinson. Continue reading

Toots RIP by Lee

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

lucky dube

Lucky Dube – South Africa’s Reggae King-1993 Interview

In Tribute – Lucky Philip Dube – Aug. 3 1964 – Oct. 18 2007

This article first appeared in Reggae Report, V11#6 1993

Lucky Dube… A Natural Man

By M. Peggy Quattro

Few individuals are naturally blessed with the predestined qualities of talent, wit, and a confident disposition. One such fortunate recipient is 29-year-old Lucky Dube, the remarkable South African singer/songwriter, who is presently dispensing his own musical blessings around the globe.

Lucky Dube Sunsplash 1992 by Lee Abel

You are among the unlucky if you missed Lucky Dube and his megaband, Slaves, on their recent two-month tour of the USA. The incredible show, which highlights Lucky’s dynamic vocals, capable of soaring three octaves; Zulu dancing from Dube, the sonorous back-up singers and stinging brass section; and infectious authentic African-Reggae rhythms, was presented in 35 cities. The venues ranged from small nightclubs to major summer festivals. Included n the tour was a free show held on a beautiful July day at Brooklyn’s Metro Tech Commons, sponsored by the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM.)

The moving response to the group’s performance was indicative of the overall reaction received whenever and wherever this talented troupe of performers set down. At the end of August, the tour moves on to Europe where they will be the opening act in a series of shows for international pop star Peter Gabriel. A two-week break in their hometown of Johannesburg is followed by a concert in Capetown, then off to finish the year in Australia, New Caledonia, Japan, and France.

Considered a superstar in South Africa, Dube, who neither smokes nor drinks, modestly credits his fans for this stardom. Continue reading

Singer Jimmy Cliff Interview 1986 – Reggae History

Jimmy Cliff…. Just Playing His Part

By M. Peggy Quattro   V4#2 1986

Jimmy Cliff
Jimmy Cliff at his New Kingston home * © M Peggy Quattro 1986

Prelude 2020:  Jimmy Cliff plays an important part in my evolutionary journey inside  Reggae and Reggae Report.  He was the first Reggae artist I ever heard in 1976 and became my first Reggae friend while working with Don Taylor in 1981. When the magazine took off in ’83, Jimmy most kindly invited me to stay at his home whenever I went to Kingston to conduct business. He wasn’t there most of those times but my hospitable friend Shiela and their young sons, Sayeed and Hassan, were. ♥ This interview  – and accompanying cover shot for V4#2 – were done with Jimmy at his New Kingston home in 1986. ↓


Jimmy Cliff is, without a doubt, the most internationally known Reggae artist alive. In more than 20 years in the music arena, this active, talented youth from Somerton, St. James, Jamaica, has developed exemplary discipline and staying power.

The Early Days

Jimmy CliffAt age 14, James Chambers left for Kingston. But following his first recording, “Daisy Got Me Crazy,” in 1962, James Chambers became Jimmy Cliff – teenage Ska star! Under the wing of famed producer Leslie Kong, Jimmy Cliff skyrocketed to early success with “Hurricane Hattie.” He toured the Caribbean and performed at New York’s 1964 World’s Fair before moving to England to seek his fame and fortune.

Even before his involvement in the sensational cult film The Harder They Come, Jimmy racked up several international hits in his early years, including “Wonderful World” and “Vietnam.” He toured and thrilled audiences in South America, England, and Europe. 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

Damian Marley on Family and Recording with Nas 2011

Damian “Junior Gong” Marley Interview  –  Perth, Australia 2011

By Mumma Trees

Ed. Note: In Australia for the 2011 4-day Good Vibrations Fest, Damian Marley, along with his latest collab partner Nas, were featured artists on a stellar festival lineup that included Faithless, Ludacris, Janelle Monae, and Erykah Badu. Prior to the show, Perth radio personality and journalist Mumma Trees caught up with the young Marley in Miami via phone.  Featured photo by Jan Salzman. Watch the Damian & Nas video “Nah Mean” below or on our YouTube channel.  

Early Days & Inspirations
Damian Marley by Lee Abel
Damian Marley * Photo Lee Abel

How did you start, Damian, what made you get up there and do what you do?

Well, I mean I think it goes without saying that I have an obvious influence from my family, you know my father, and of course, my older brothers and sisters are all involved in music. But growing up as a child, I used to go to a lot of concerts in Jamaica and watch some of my personal musical heroes, which would be people like Shabba Ranks and Supercat, who are some of the earlier Dancehall artists. I used to watch them perform and that’s really what got me into wanting to perform myself.

That’s interesting because your brothers are singers, but you have chosen the deejay style.

Yeah. And that’s definitely because of that same influence… like the first music I bought for myself was Dancehall music.

Are there any current Dancehall artists who are doing things that you admire?

Yeah, I mean, lots of them, I am a big fan of music in general, you know wha I mean, so I try my best to keep up-to-date with what’s going on, especially in Jamaica. I mean lots of them, you have Mavado, Gyptian, Tarrus Riley, Wayne Marshall, Vybz Kartel, you have loads of them, and I am a fan of their music.

You mention Vybz Kartel, what’s your opinion of the slackness in Dancehall music coming out in the last few years from artists like him?

I mean, the music I bought as a child was slack also. And I am a big advocate of freedom of speech. You have to be free to say something negative, to be free to say something positive. So I am a big advocate of that. And realistically, you know music is an honest way of making a living. You know, somebody could be out there doing something that isn’t…. Music don’t really hurt nobody. So if Vybz Kartel is making an honest living for himself, you have to respect that.

Damian, Stephen, Julian Marley
Damian, Stephen, & Julian Marley – W. Palm Beach * Photo Lynn Dearing 2010

Were you close with your brothers and sisters growing up?

We were very close growing up. Every vacation, summer holidays, I would always go and spend a few weeks with them, and you know, we were very close from when I was a child.

When you have performed with your brothers, it has been as the “Ghetto Youths Crew,” are you still working together on that?

Well, we still are a team, but performing as the Ghetto Youths Crew, we haven’t done that in many years now. But we still definitely work as a team. We have a whole lot of new young artists we are working with and getting ready to release some projects next year.

Collaboration with Nas

Your latest collaboration with Nas has been a huge worldwide hit. Can you tell me about the album title Distant Relatives?

Nas and Damian Marley
Nas & Damian Marley in Florida *. Photo Alex Broadwell

It’s called Distant Relatives because of different reasons. Nas and myself, being that we are ‘distant relatives,’ Hip-Hop and Reggae as two genres of music being ‘distant relatives.’ Then on a bigger scale now, all of humanity, because the album itself has the concept of Africa intertwined throughout the whole album. We are trying to say that all of humanity comes from the same birthplace, Africa. So, all of us as humanity are ‘distant relatives.’

Speaking of Africa, I have seen videos of you and your brothers performing in Ethiopia. Have you performed in any southern African country? 

I have performed in Ethiopia and Ghana, but those are the only places in Africa I have visited so far. But for sure, my father’s song is the national anthem of Zimbabwe. So, that’s definitely a place I want to go and visit.

You had a couple of big tunes a few years ago produced by Baby G, The Mission and One Loaf of Bread. Are you planning to do any more work with Trevor Baby G?

It’s funny you say that because he is actually here in Miami. We have been doing some work together over the last few weeks. We’re trying to get a few Dancehall tracks together, so actually, I have a few tracks with Baby G being released in the next few weeks.

You are coming to Perth as part of the Good Vibrations festival, a great national festival, what can we expect from your performance here with Nas?

Nas & Damian Marley
Nas & Damian Marley, Pompano Beach, FL *. Photo Alex Broadwell

You can expect the best of both worlds. You can expect a great coming together of two genres of music. We do some of the tracks together that we have on the album, then the both of us give a little bit of our own catalogue of music. You gonna get a nice mix of Hip-Hop and Reggae.

Do you have a message for the Perth people?

Yeah man, tell dem Love and we will be there soon. Respect.

Nas & Damian “Zilla” Marley – “Nah Mean” from 2010’s Distant Relatives LP