Photo: Bobby Sanabria, one of the musicains fighting to reinstate Latin Jazz Grammy category
Back in June, four Latin jazz musicians announced that they planned to take legal action to against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences after their genre, along with 30 other categories, were removed from the list of Grammy awards available. Monday, they kept that promise, and file suit against the Academy to have the award reinstated.
Ben Lapidus, Mark Levine, Eugene Marlow, and Bobby Sanabria are among a number of musicians upset by the Academy’s April announcement that they would be eliminating 31 of its 108 categories.
The musicians’ suit claims that by eliminating the categories, the Academy has failed to uphold its obligations to its members, adding that the removal of he Latin jazz category “could have severe detrimental impact on the plaintiffs’ musical careers.”
By eliminated the Latin jazz category, all jazz musicians are now competing for one of two awards – Best Jazz Instrumental Album or Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Sanabria, a Grammy-nominated percussionist, said the categories’ elimination was “the most blatant example of racism in the history of any arts organization.”
The musicians’ lawyer, Roger Maldonado, “You would have to submit under the broad jazz category, now. You’re competing against any other number of genres that are not going to be viewed the same.” He added, “You’re also trying to compare apples and oranges in a way that just doesn’t work.”
The Academy responded, saying, “The Recording Academy believes this frivolous lawsuit is without merit, and we fully expect to prevail.”
Though the lawsuit is primarily to see the return of Latin jazz category at the Grammys, Maldonado, said he would be happy to coordinate with other musicians looking to reinstate other categories.