Reversing part of a decision that had sparked fierce protests at the last Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy has restored its Latin jazz category, as well as making several other additions, the org announced on Friday.
The Latin jazz Grammy — awarded since 1995 — was one of 31 categories eliminated by the Recording Acad in spring of last year (Daily Variety, April 7, 2011). Of all the cuts, it quickly proved the most controversial, drawing criticism from the likes of Paul Simon and Herbie Hancock, leading to protests at last February’s kudocast, and sparking a class-action lawsuit from four Latin jazz musicians. (The suit was dismissed in April of this year.)
The unexpected decision to reinstate the category was reached during the Acad’s board of trustees meeting last May. Other changes included the addition of a best urban contemporary album award — seemingly a sort of replacement for the urban alternative category axed last year — and the creation of a “classical compendium” category.
The Latin music field was slightly reshuffled, with the best Latin pop, rock or alternative album category split in two — one for Latin pop, and one for Latin rock, urban or alternative. Meanwhile, the best banda or norteno album award was absorbed into the more general best regional Mexican music category.
All in all, the total number of competitive Grammys now stands at 81, up from last year’s 78, but still notably down from 2010’s high of 109.
In a statement, Recording Acad topper Neil Portnow noted: “Every year, we diligently examine our awards structure, including evaluating proposals, to develop an overall guiding vision and ensure that it remains a balanced and viable process, as well as maintains the prestige of the highest and only peer-recognized award in music.”
Additionally, the Acad announced that mastering engineers would become eligible for record of the year recognition, and a new music educator of the year award will be added to the Special Merit Awards held prior to the Grammys. (The latter will be first awarded in 2014.)
The 2012 Grammy Awards will be held on Feb. 10, 2013.