Grammys Scrap ‘Secret’ Nomination Committees After Criticism

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 28, 2018 Grammy trophies sit in the press room during the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York. (Photo by Don EMMERT / AFP)

 

 

The organizers of the Grammys said Friday they were scrapping the “secret” committees that select which acts get nominated for the prestigious music awards following criticism from artists and allegations of rigging.

The Recording Academy said nominations for the 2022 awards would be decided by its entire voting membership of more than 11,000, rather than the anonymous 15-30 member expert committees who had previously made the selections.

The Academy said the “significant changes” to the awards process “reflect its ongoing commitment to evolve with the musical landscape and to ensure that the Grammy Awards rules and guidelines are transparent and equitable.”

In its statement, the organization said it was also reducing the number of categories in which voters can vote and added two new award categories, in Latin and global music, to bring the total to 86.

The changes come after R&B star The Weeknd in November accused the Grammy organizers of being corrupt after he surprisingly received no nominations, despite a big year commercially.

“The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…,” the Canadian, known for hits like “Blinding Lights” and “Starboy,” tweeted at the time and pledged to stop submitting music for awards consideration.

Harvey Mason Jr, chairman and interim president of the Academy, said it had “been a year of unprecedented, transformational change for the Recording Academy.”

“This is a new Academy, one that is driven to action and that has doubled down on the commitment to meeting the needs of the music community.”

Last year the Academy’s first female CEO, Deborah Dugan was fired over alleged bullying.

In a legal complaint, Dugan said she was ousted after raising concerns ranging from voting irregularities to sexual harassment and alleged rape.

Former One Direction singer Zayn Malik criticized the anonymous nomination committees in March.

“I’m keeping the pressure on & fighting for transparency & inclusion. We need to make sure we are honoring and celebrating ‘creative excellence’ of ALL. End the secret committees,” tweeted the singer, who has never been nominated either with his former group or as a solo artist.

“My tweet was not personal or about eligibility but was about the need for inclusion and the lack of transparency of the nomination process and the space that creates and allows favoritism, racism, and networking politics to influence the voting process,” Malik added.

Burna Boy Gets Second Shot At Grammys

(FILES) Burna Boy was nominated in the Grammys Best Global Music Album category for his 2020 album Twice as Tall, alongside four others including Malian band, “Tinariwen” and US band “Antibalas”.

 

 

Afrobeat superstar and this year a leading voice of the country’s youth protests, Burna Boy is now hoping to add a Grammy to his growing list of accomplishments. 

Burna Boy has been nominated in the Best Global Music Album category at Sunday’s awards for his 2020 album “Twice as Tall”, alongside four others including Malian band Tinariwen and US band Antibalas.

It is the second Grammy nomination for the singer who has sold out London’s Wembley arena and broken a UK music chart and a Spotify streaming record with his Afrobeat and dancehall style.

He clinched his first nomination in 2019 in the same category, for his “African Giant” album, and while he did not win last year, music critics predict he may have a better chance now.

“This year’s nomination is very specific,” says UK-based Nigerian music critic Dami Ajayi. “There was a plan (by Burna Boy) to get another Grammy nomination.”

Ajayi said it was a deliberate choice to get US record executive Sean Combs as executive producer and to feature world music star Youssou N’dour.

But Burna Boy seems to have always been making deliberate choices.

–  Taking the stairs –
Born Damini Ogulu in Nigeria’s Port Harcourt, an oil-rich region, Burna Boy completed his primary and secondary education in Nigeria before moving to the UK for university.

Two years after he left, the ambitious singer dropped out and returned to Nigeria and in 2013, he released his first studio album, “LIFE” — an acronym for “Leaving an Impact For Eternity.”

“Unlike a lot of other people, I’ve had to go through never-ending steps to get here, whereas other people have taken the elevator up,” he told GQ in an interview published in March 2020.

“I’ve always been too heavy for that kind of elevator, so I had to take the stairs. Now I know every floor and everything on every floor.”

Burna Boy followed the release of LIFE with two albums; “Redemption” in 2015 and “Outside” in 2018 that included Kanye West endorsed song, “Ye”.

In the video, which has over 129 million views on YouTube, the marijuana-toking Burna Boy puffs smoke into the camera while whipping his dreadlocked hair back and forth.

“Dada cover my face,” is a memorable line from the song. He is singing about himself and his locs (Dada is a local term for dreadlocks), bolstering the feel of a tune that is about owning oneself and shunning criticism.

“He seems to have solidified his style,” Ajayi says about the singer’s evolution. “It is so unique, so cutting, and so irresistible. You can say it is the finest fusion of contemporary African music we have at the moment.”

If songs like “Ye” opened international doors for Burna Boy, it was his 2019 “African Giant” album that proved he had arrived.

It got him his first Grammy Nomination, an MTV EMA, and an honourable mention from former US president Barack Obama as one of his favourite songs in 2019.

– African icon –
The album was largely centred on social commentary around governance and classism, bringing comparisons to iconic Nigerian singer Fela Kuti.

Kuti, a Nigerian and West African music icon, was as well-known for his funky, jazzy Afrofusion music as his political activism and social commentary.

“The guy is obsessed with Fela,” Ajayi said. “He samples Fela very closely.”

Burna Boy’s grandfather was once Fela Kuti’s manager, and his mother Bose Ogulu, who is now his manager, left her job as a translator to work with Kuti.

Like Fela, Burna Boy has refused to be silent.

When Coachella music festival listed his name in small letters in 2019, the artist who refers to himself as an “African Giant” asked for a bigger font, causing a stir on social media.

In the same year, at the height of the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and others in South Africa, he threatened to never set foot in the country again unless the government took action.

During the #EndSARS protests about police brutality in Nigeria last October, he was very vocal on social media and addressed a rally in London.

He also sponsored several #EndSARS billboards in major locations across Nigeria, started a relief fund for victims, and released a song honouring casualties from the protests.

“We are the new generation, relentless and tireless,” he told the London rally after holding up a clenched fist. “No justice, no peace.”

‘This Is For Burna Boy,’ Angelique Kidjo Dedicates Grammy Award

Photo collaboration of Angélique Kidjo and Burna Boy

 

Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo on Sunday night dedicated her Grammy award to the Nigerian music star Burna Boy who was up against her to win the music prize.

Burna Boy had been nominated in the same category for his acclaimed album ‘African Giant’ but Kidjo won, for the fourth time, leaving Burna Boy still waiting to win his first.

READ ALSO: 2020 Grammy Awards Key Winners

Kidjo while dedicating the award showered praises on Burna saying, “Four years ago on this stage, I was telling you that the new generation of artists coming from Africa are going to take you by storm.

“And the time has come. This is for Burna Boy.

“Burna Boy is among those young artists that come from Africa that is changing the way our continent is perceived and the way African music has been the bedrock of every music.”

Kidjo who sings in more than five languages and whose career has spanned almost four decades was gracious in receiving the award and dedicated it to Burna Boy.

“This is for Burna Boy,” she said, lifting up her award to cheers, and declaring the “African giant” as part of the new generation of African musicians that are changing the global perception of Africa and its music.

A win for Burna would have made it the second time a Nigerian would be returning home with the grammy plaque. Sikiru Adepoju is the only Nigerian to have won a grammy. he won it in 2009 with the “global drum project” a collaborative album with Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, and Giovanni Hidalgo.

Disco legend, Donna Summer dies at 63

Disco legend Donna Summer died Thursday at age 63, reportedly after a battle with cancer.

“Early this morning, we lost Donna Summer Sudano, a woman of many gifts, the greatest being her faith,” the singer’s family said in a statement on Thursday.

“While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy. Words truly can’t express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time,” the statement added.

TMZ an online entertainment blog was the first to report the singer’s death, and the site reports that she was recording an album at the time of her death.

The Grammy-winning singer, nicknamed the Queen of Disco, had numerous hits in both the 1970s and 1980s, including “Last Dance,” “She Works Hard for the Money” and “Bad Girls.” Her duet with Barbra Streisand, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” was one of four Summer’s songs that topped the Billboard Top 100 charts.

Summer was the first female artist to chart with back-to-back multi-platinum double albums.

She appeared in the 1978 film, “Thank God It’s Friday,” which won the best original song Oscar for “Last Dance.” Summer also appeared twice on the 1990s hit TV show “Family Matters,” playing Steve Urkel’s Aunt Oona from Altoona. In 2011, she was a guest judge on music reality show “Platinum Hit,” and she performed with the female finalists on the 2008 “American Idol” finale.

Summer won five Grammy Awards and six American Music Awards, and charted three multi-platinum albums.

In 2009, she sang at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert honouring President Barack Obama in Oslo, Norway.

Musician Questlove of The Roots tweeted, “I know that the whole ‘disco sucks’ stuff left a bad taste in the mouths of some. But Summer’s work was really a credible legacy.”

Also Mario Lopez tweeted “R.I.P Donna Summer … I remember roller skating to hits like ‘Last Dance’ ‘Hot Stuff’ & ‘Bad Girls.’ Synonymous with the 70’s.”

Summer was also a formally trained painter. In 2010, she told Atlantic City Weekly that she sold her first painting for $38,000 and thought, “I may want to stop singing now.” Summer estimated she had sold close to a million dollars’ worth of art.

She is survived by her husband, musician Bruce Sudano, three daughters, and four grandchildren.