| Updated at: 1252 PST, Friday, May 27, 2011|
NEW YORK: A coalition of musicians is demanding the Recording Academy restore more than 30 categories cut from the Grammy Awards, alleging the reductions unfairly target ethnic music and were done without the input of its thousands of members.
A protest was held Thursday in Beverly Hills, Calif., at an academy board meeting. A modest turnout of musicians hoisted signs above their heads with such slogans as "Grammys Honor All Music" and "It's Not Just About Rap, Rock or Country." Some Latin jazz protesters brought instruments and turned the rally into a spontaneous jam session.
It was part of a campaign by those upset by last month's decision to reduce the Grammy fields, which this year totaled 109, to 78.
In a letter delivered to the Recording Academy Thursday afternoon, musicians ranging from Carlos Santana to Paul Simon and Herbie Hancock demanded the reinstatement of the categories. "We will not be disenfranchised," the letter warned.
Grammy President and CEO Neil Portnow said changes would be in effect for the 2012 Grammys. He urged dissenters to work with the academy, which would examine the effect of the changes for the 2013 awards.
But protesters hope the process could be reversed in time for next year's Grammy ceremony if at least one board member asks the academy to reconsider.
The academy announced the changes April 6; the move came after a more than yearlong examination of the awards structure, the first in the Grammys' 50-plus year history. Portnow said at the time that the changes would make the Grammys more competitive, and the awards more coveted.
But the move upset many academy members, who were taken off guard by the announcement.
After the academy announced the changes, meetings were held in chapter cities across the country to reach out to members.
The Recording Academy's board meeting ends Friday. If it concludes with the changes still in place, Sanabria is vowing boycotts of the Grammys, broadcast partner CBS and sponsors of the show. He said he will also urge people to resign from the academy.
"We have to fight this. This is not just a music issue. This is a cultural diversity issue," he said. (AP)