“People are afraid to speak on it because it’s the Grammys. But there’s a history of them not acknowledging black artists”
This is one award controversy where black entertainers lend support on both sides …some where between these protagonists lies the truth.
Could the Grammy Awards be having their own race problem? The show is coming under huge pressure to diversify its all-white tribute lineup and honor the late Maurice White, leader of Earth, Wind & Fire.
During Monday’s telecast, Lady Gaga will perform an eight-minute David Bowie tribute, Jackson Browne will honor Glenn Frey and Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp are expected to perform a tribute for Lemmy from Motörhead.
pagesix.com claims industry insiders are griping that White, of the band Earth, Wind & Fire, and Natalie Cole have been banished to a video tribute package with others who died in the past year.
“Over the last week or so, since Maurice White passed away, there has been back and forth with the producers and the academy about some kind of representation of him during the show. The tributes they’ve confirmed are all white. As of yesterday, there was no tribute at all for Maurice because Grammy producers said they didn’t have time,” one insider told us.
Meanwhile, another source close to the Grammys said they’re still trying to figure out how to add more diversity to the lineup.
“Maurice White and the group he founded had unprecedented impact on pop culture. After a lot of pressure, producers are trying to figure out how to properly pay tribute to him. It’s still in limbo,” said the insider.
To make matters worse, Run-DMC will receive a lifetime achievement award, but it won’t be televised. “People are afraid to speak on it because it’s the Grammys. But there’s a history of them not acknowledging black artists,” the first source added.
Even though rapper Kendrick Lamar leads the Grammy nominations with 11 nods, the show still faces accusations of not doing a good enough job of honoring artists of color. Billboard recently reported in a “Confessions of a Grammy Voter” piece, “The voting bloc is still too white, too old and too male . . . the voters are becoming more diverse in terms of minorities, females and younger ages — but there’s still a long way to go.”
Grammy reps didn’t get back to us by press time.
Rihanna performs during We Can Survive at the Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 24, 2015 in Hollywood
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for CBS
However, there is another side to the story. states:
“It’s 2016 in America and, oddly enough, more people of color are vying for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination than have been tabbed for acting awards at this year’s Oscars. To some, how many black, Latino or Asian actors aren’t nominated for an acting award is a trivial matter. It’s a small thing, like a termite. But to others, it’s another termite for the colony that eats away at the wood-frame foundation the country was built upon.’
‘This is the problem the Academy Awards is facing this month. Its musical sibling also honors its very best in February, but there’s no such discussion attached to the Grammys. America’s race issues are pervasive, so music’s top honors have sometimes dealt with these concerns; see Kendrick Lamar and Macklemore just two Februaries ago. However, arguably, that misstep was more about the cluelessness that seems to plague the Grammys than any genuine racial issue.’
‘And that’s the way it’s been since the Grammys’ inception in the 1950s. For the most part, music’s highest honors have appreciated the contributions of its diverse artists in a way the Oscars still can’t seem to. Founded in 1929, the Academy Awards preceded the Grammys by 29 years. During those years, one black actor won an Oscar, Hattie McDaniel for Gone With the Wind. The only Latino winners were Jose Ferrer and Anthony Quinn, who won twice. The Japanese actress Miyoshi Umeki won 1957’s Supporting Actress Oscar. That’s a quartet of non-white winners over 30 years and hundreds of total acting nominations.”
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further to say:
“In its first year, the Grammys had half as many major award winners of color than the Oscars could muster over four decades to that point. By the time Sidney Poitier became the first black man to win a Best Actor Oscar in 1964, major-category Grammy winners included Duke Ellington, Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, the Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida, Chubby Checker, Mahalia Jackson and Quincy Jones. And by the time Denzel Washington became the second black man to win a Best Actor Oscar, it was an entirely different century and music had introduced us to and honored transcendent and influential artists like Harry Belafonte, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, Public Enemy, Yo-Yo Ma, Selena and Beyoncé.
The difference in diversity and its effect on these awards events is inordinate, but what’s to account for it?
One difference could be as simple as timing. When the Academy Awards debuted, the United States was less progressive with respect to race issues, a condition that lingered for years with both the nation and the Oscars. When the Grammys premiered in 1958, it was freshly on the heels of Brown v. Board of Education; Rosa Parks had just made her defiant and courageous statement in Montgomery, Alabama; and Elvis and Little Richard were thrilling fans who had crossed over color lines to enjoy their music. From the start, the diversity of Grammy nominations and winners reflected what was happening at the moment.”