The first round for submissions for the 2022 Grammy Awards opened yesterday and while the Recording Academy has discussed making changes to their voting policy, Reggae music, by and large, has been left out of the conversation.
Whether you make Reggae, Soca, Dancehall or any Island style music it will be classified as Reggae as far as the Grammys are concerned and only one award category is available.
Each year Reggae and Dancehall artists make their projects, some with the hope that they will be nominated and even win the Grammy. Over the years the Grammys select albums that simply do not connect to the Jamaican reggae cultural psyche due to a voting process that requires active membership.
The Grammy’s voting process
The first round of submissions ends on July 29. The final round of submissions will begin on August 17, 2021 and end on August 31, 2021.
The first round of voting commences on October 22, 2021 and ends on November 5, 2021. The nominations will be then be announced at a date to be decided by the Recording Academy. Then the final round of voting will commence on December 6, 2021 and end on January 5, 2022.
According to Grammy.com “Voting members are required to vote on four categories in the general field and may vote in 15 other categories based on the individuals’ area of expertise”. An album must also contain at least 50% playing time of new music.
The voting process according to the Grammy’s official website consists of 5 stages and your chances remain higher to win a grammy if you submit in a non-crowded category.
Some Grammy experts also suggest that you name your album, song, or band name with a letter at the beginning of the alphabet.
The first and most obvious step in the Grammy’s process is the Submission stage then the Screening, where “experts” in various fields receive each Grammy submission to make sure that it is eligible, meets the qualifications, and that it is placed in the proper category.
Then the record is nominated by voting members in a first-round ballot stage, making up to five selections in each category, then to the final voting round.
In this round, an accounting firm tabulates the votes that leads to the big reveal of the results which remains unknown until the Grammy Awards presentation.
Whether you win or not, getting nominated is good PR narrative to networking among fellow Grammy-level musicians.
The process to become a Grammy voter is not so simple especially for a non-US resident. However, all Grammy voting members must have creative or technical credits on at least six commercially released tracks on a physical music release whether cassette, vinyl or CD or 12 credits on digital releases. Voting members must also be in good standing with their dues.
Being a voting member or an associate of the Recording Academy offers tremendous networking opportunities from parties to conferences and private events.
Even if you do not meet the requirements you may still apply at the recommendation of two eligible members of the Recording Academy.
All that Grammy politics aside, so far this year there have been several projects that are eligible to be recognized as Best Reggae Album.
Here are 5 reggae albums so far this year that may be contenders for a Grammy nomination:
Etana – Pamoja
Etana’s African connection album “Pamoja” is sexy and melodious. She takes chances creatively and collaborates with some of the best new and established artists in the world of reggae and African music. Etana mentioned on World Music Views Podcast that she is a member of the Grammy Board but is still learning the ins and outs of the system. Her album was independently released on her Freemind music label but the quality is that of any major label release.
Rebelution – In The Moment
Rebelution “In The Moment”, debuted at number 2 on the Reggae Billboard charts. Released under Easy Star Records, this is not the best reggae album going by the Jamaican roots rocking drum and bass standards but they have fans out in California, (where the Grammys reside) and it is one of the most successful reggae albums released this year.
Ava Vee – Self Titled EP
Reggae newcomer Ava Vee self titled sophomore EP has the ingredients for reggae and musically she is a cut above. With endorsements from Janet Jackson and a captive Hawaiian audience her efforts are worth a grammy nomination. The album uses horns to create larger reggae sounds and her voice strings harmony to flow.
Joe Mersa – Eternal EP
Released by Ghetto Youths International, he is only Marley with a project out so far this year. Going by the Grammy’s history he will likely be nominated. His album is an improvement on his previous work and he carries the Marley legacy well.
Stick Figures: Fire And Stone (Prince Fatty Presents)
Stick Figures: Fire And Stone (Prince Fatty Presents), released on Ruffwood Records their sound and impact pales when compared to other bands in Jamaica, but their fan base in California keeps them relevant. The album is a dub-style remix project of the original Fire And Stone. They have been holding places at the top of the iTunes reggae charts all year with their other projects.
There will be reggae albums from Bounty Killer, Spice and others before the grammy submissions are closed.
The Grammy Awards process may not be the most perfect but it is currently the best place for reggae artists to use the accomplishment as a vehicle for showcasing their current and future art to a wider audience.
The 64th Annual Grammy Awards Telecast, where the winners will be announced, will be broadcasted on CBS on January 31, 2022.