Ten-time Grammy-award winning musician Carlos Santana is bashing the Grammys for being racist. Does that seem ironic? Well, he doesn't think so. According to a Canadian newspaper, the 64-year-old Mexican musician is angry about the recent axing of a number of Grammy awards. This past April, the organization that oversees the distribution of the coveted awards (National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS), aka America’s Recording Academy) cut 31 total awards, including Grammys for Latin jazz and salsa.
Actors Jimmy Smits and Esai Morales, founding members of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA), also voiced their concern about the category eliminations. In a letter dated July 27, they ask for all 31 categories to be reinstated and requested to meet with Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow.
"Respectfully, NHFA asks that you reconsider these categories and arrive at a better solution with Latino musicians," the letter reads. "Otherwise it will be clear that the reduction in categories was meant to dilute Grammy diversity and that will eliminate smaller labels from Grammy competition."
“Why do they cut only this music? Why not other music,” Santana asked. The musician believes the decision to cut the awards was racially motivated. “First of all we have so many categories of Country & Western. Country & Western people have seven to nine to ten (awards) shows a year and you seldom see Negroes or Latin people,” he said. “You can’t eliminate black gospel music or Hawaiian music or American Indian music or Latin jazz music because all this music represents what the United States is: a social experiment.”
Several Latin musicians have signaled their support of a class-action lawsuit against the Recording Academy chiefs filed earlier this month by a group of producers and musicians, including Puerto Rican Latin jazz musician Bobby Sanabria. The academy responded with a statement that described the lawsuit as “frivolous” and “without merit.”
“I’m not afraid if they don’t invite me again,” Santana said. “I’m not afraid to say that it’s basically racist. Ignorant and racist.”