Jamaica Gleaner / Last December, veteran reggae singer Freddie McGregor, sent tongues wagging when he boldly expressed his displeasure at the annual picks for the Best Reggae Album at the Grammy Awards. In an article published in The Gleaner , on December 20, 2016, he lashed out at the then 59 year-old Recording Academy, calling the reggae arm of the institution that typically awards excellence in the music industry, “an embarrassment of indescribable magnitude to reggae music”.
The Sunday Gleaner, recently learnt that the complaints did not fall on deaf years, as a few days ago, several members of the reggae/dancehall entertainment fraternity, were invited to a meeting by the executives of the Grammy Awards’ South Florida Chapter. Among the attendees were Mr Vegas, Clinton Lindsay, John Fx, Major Lazer, Neil Peart and Luke Morgan.
Though tight-lipped about specific details of the meeting, Clinton Lindsay (broadcast journalist) said the mandate is for them to revamp the image of the reggae category. He said The Recording Academy is quite aware of the various issues facing the category and one of the subjects of concern among the executives, was how to make the final five nominees reflect the sentiment of the general reggae community.
Included in the list of nominees for the past three years are Morgan Heritage, Devin Di Dakta, J Boog, Ziggy Marley, Raging Fyah, Rebelution, Soja, Shaggy, Jah Cure, Barrington Levy, Sean Paul and Luciano.
Last year, news also surfaced that Israeli-born wife of Ziggy Marley, Orly Agai Marley, was elected a governor of the Los Angeles chapter of the Grammy’s executive, the largest such chapter in the U.S., that decides on eligibility for nomination and consideration for the coveted music crown for The Recording Academy (formerly NARAS, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences ).
Aware of dissatisfaction
“The executives are also aware that for the past five years or so, Jamaicans are not satisfied with the final list, as they believe that the Marleys have a major influence on the selection. So the aim is to get rid of this misconception that the Grammy is not a level playing field as it relates to the Marleys,” Lindsay said.
He told The Sunday Gleaner , that the majority of those present at the meeting, were of the opinion that ‘it does look that way’ and that view of opinion needs to change.
The Grammy Awards ceremony started almost 60 years ago, but the reggae category was conceptualised in 1984. Since the category’s inception, Ziggy Marley, Bob Marley’s eldest son, has won five solo Best Reggae Album Grammy Awards. Ziggy has also won three Best Reggae Album Grammys with the Melody Makers, a group that included his brother Stephen and sisters Sharon and Cedella. Stephen Marley is himself, a six-time Grammy award winner as an artiste, producer and member of Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers. And Damian Marley, Bob Marley’s youngest son, is a three-time Grammy winner.
“There were also talks about how to get the reggae industry at home and abroad more involved in the whole process, from nomination to selection,” he said.
Although he was not invited to the meeting, a seemingly satisfied Freddie McGregor told The Sunday Gleaner , that he is pleased that the Grammy committee is planning to make changes that are expected in the next two or three years.
“Sometimes we are afraid to speak, so we don’t see changes, but I am really proud of what is happening,” he said.
McGregor said he gives the thumbs up to all the nominees in this year’s reggae category, as they are all deserving of a win.
He also believes that while everyone anticipates who will emerge victorious, getting nominated is of more importance.
“The committee has made a good selection and the nomination is more important than the win, because there can only be one winner. All eyes are on Junior Gong and Chronixx. Both of them have exceptional albums, so the world waits with bated breath, to see who will emerge the winner,” he said.
“If we feel comfortable with the albums that are nominated, then excitement will be generated and we will be satisfied with whoever wins. Things like this can only make the industry better,” he added.