Rev. Jesse Jackson, who's frequently protesting about something, might soon be protesting the Grammys. Neil Portnow, president and CEO of The Recording Academy, received a letter from the minister and activist last week expressing extreme disapproval of the Academy's decision last April to trim down its awards category list from 109 to just 78; among those eliminated were several categories that have historically drawn the most racially and ethnically diverse nominees, including traditional gospel, Zydeco, and Cajun music recordings.
Along with his organization, the Rainbow Push Coalition, Jackson requested to meet with Portnow to "urgently express our concerns and to see if we might help resolve this conflict… and allow the Grammys to do what they do best," and alluded to a potential protest at the Feb. 12 awards show. "Music of all arts should be expansive and inclusive," Jackson recently told the Associated Press. "So much talent comes from the base of poverty and those in the margins. You limit the base, you miss too much talent."
Portnow told the AP he would be willing to meet with Jackson to explain the logic and thought process behind the changes to the annual awards ceremony. Jackson, however, isn't the first to express outrage over the changes made last spring. Latin jazz musicians have filed a lawsuit against the Academy, and Carlos Santana has also spoken up in opposition of the reduction in categories. Activist and social critic Cornel West has also voiced his disapproval: "I believe the elimination of the ethnic Grammy categories is unjust and unfair," he said in a statement on Friday. [via Billboard]