The 64th Grammy Awards, the music industry’s biggest night, took place earlier this month in Las Vegas. The night was of little consequence in comparison to the more controversial Oscars back in March, but saw many show-stopping outfits, performances and wins.
Regardless of who took one home, the Recording Academy should reconsider several of the awards categories — especially for international acts.
The Grammy Awards, originally called The Gramophone Awards, began in 1958 to recognize leading artists in the music industry. At the time, the Oscars and Emmy Awards already existed to honor those in film and television. During the ceremony, a number of awards are given across numerous genre categories, including country, rock, jazz, comedy, gospel and more.
The biggest awards of the night — best new artist, song of the year, album of the year and record of the year — are not genre-specific. The number of categories available each year fluctuate, but that also might not be obvious to viewers at home because all of the awards are typically not presented during the live show.
While genres like rock, R&B, jazz and hip-hop are native to the United States, the Recording Academy also recognizes acts with strong international ties, such as Latin, reggae — which used to be referred to as world music.
In 2020, the academy announced that they were changing the name to “global music” in an attempt to depart “from the connotations of colonialism, folk and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied.”
This came as part of a broader initiative, perhaps pushed by the social unrest of that year, that led to several categories being renamed.
While this step focuses on the semantics of the award, the academy neglects to consider how this continues to lump international artists into a single category instead of honoring their distinctiveness.
The newly named global category only has two awards — best global music performance and best global music album. Among those nominees were Femi Kuti, Daniel Ho, WizKid, Rocky Dawuni, Angelique Kidjo and Arooj Aftab. Their styles range from a variety of genres, such as jazz, classical music, R&B, reggae and a variety of places like Ghana, China, Nigeria, England and Hawaii.