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On and Off the Grid

The Grammy Awards: To Be or Not To Be?

By Published: June 7, 2012
"Awards and competitions have always been the way for talented students to stand out from the crowd. Those of us living on the scene in New York City realize how easy it is to get lost in the crowd. Whether one is talking about the Grammy Awards (which was quite controversial this year because of the categories they dropped) or critics and fan Polls in Downbeat or Jazz Times Magazine, they all bring attention to those who won. I don't always agree with who won, but I still believe it's better to have these awards. Young musicians and older musicians have better opportunities and are inspired when they receive an award or attention."

Can the music world get along without them?

"Naturally the music world could get along without the polls and awards. But it really depends on whom you're talking about when you say the 'music world.' Serious musicians don't pay much mind to any of this in the long term. It's like reviews; you would always rather read a good review on your performance or recording, but you know it's only one guy's opinion. I teach my students to never take the good reviews too seriously and the same with the bad reviews. You simply do your best and continue to learn and improve throughout your musical life."

Are they important to you?

"I've had an unusual experience because in my younger years I released some amazing projects that did not receive the attention I dreamed they would receive. Now in my later years, I just received a Grammy nomination for my last recording, The Music of Randy Newman (Motéma, 2011). I was shocked when I heard the news."

Are they fair?

"I think 'fair' has more to do with who's judging and their taste and ethics. I know a few stories where one musician who should've been in the finals of a competition was switched with another because of political reasons or family ties. There are many factors that come into play when you're giving money and opportunities. Life is not fair. But we have to stay positive and always hope that deserving musicians will get their day in the sun. The cats that are negative will never attract the attention they desire. I support the awards system and when I see someone like "Sheila Jordan" win an NEA Masters Award, it makes me feel really good."

Again another positive for the Grammy Awards.



Judi Silvano
Judi Silvano
Judi Silvano

vocalist
, jazz vocalist and non-Grammy winner, as of yet:

Are you a voting member of the Recording Academy?

"Yes, I've been a member for the past 10 years or so, since I realized that it is one way that musicians have a say in what musical projects get recognized beyond the commercial and promotional view. I am always amazed how many friends and hardworking musicians there are on the scene that just haven't taken advantage of this ability to cast their vote and help decide some of the issues that affect us. I consider the expense of membership to be as valuable as being a member of one of the publishing societies such as BMI or ASCAP and the Musician's Union. There are no guarantees of personal advancement with membership, yet there's more of a chance to be part of the scene when you join with other likeminded folks and help create awareness and appreciation for what we do, for our craft."

If you are not, would you like to be?

"I wish more of my colleagues would participate and vote to take some of what little control we as creative artists have in the marketplace."

How important is the Grammy Awards to you?

"The Grammy Awards is an important avenue, as I said before, of being part of an organization that establishes increased appreciation for how this music enriches the culture of our world. While there has been controversy of the range and elimination of some categories, the Grammy Awards ceremony is still a vehicle for some brilliant talents to be seen and heard on a broad scale. I would be honored to have some of my musical contribution be considered one day by the Grammy Awards' NARAS membership, and though I do not make my work for that purpose, the drive for recognition is one element of the creative process. Sharing one's personal vision through music is both universal and intimate."

Do you think they are fair?

"Ah, well, life isn't fair and the Grammy Awards are a man- and woman-made construct that has become laden with rules and parameters of judgment that sometimes defy reason. There has been a great out-cry in particular about the lessening of descriptive categories for consideration of jazz and jazz-infused works that is really unfortunate. Given the worldwide love and enthusiasm for the many various styles under the 'jazz' umbrella, it feels very strange to have observed the decrease in the styles within what is loosely called jazz. This has happened concurrently with other genres' representational categories increasing."



Here's a surprising and opposite view from vocalist Fay Victor
Fay Victor
Fay Victor

vocalist
:

Are you a voting member of the Recording Academy?

"No I am not."

If you are not, would you like to be?

"No I would not like to be."


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