Last year, I caused a bit of controversy when I wrote and published an open letter to NARAS, the governing body for the Grammy Awards. My desire at the time was to highlight some of the inconsistencies in the awards process that seemed to be outdated and certainly didn't consider the shift that had taken place in contemporary popular culture. My opinion was that the show in particular had taken on a formulaic and predictable pattern of exploiting big named artists for ratings, telegraphing winners by placing their performances adjacent to the categories in which they were nominated, and the voting process itself -- all seemed to call the meaning and value of these esteemed awards into question. In all of the discussion that followed last year, one aspect of the story that failed to be answered was, why did I do it in the first place?
During my tenure in the music business, I have worked with a countless number of recording artists and for every single one, I know that perhaps the greatest desire that they each held was to possess a Grammy Award. The very meaning of the award, excellence in musical artistry, is a testament to the hard work, sacrifice, and genius that they bring to their craft -- to the delight of millions of fans the world over. While to the viewer it may seem as if it is just a show, to the artists it is significantly more profound. I recently saw an interview with Nikki Minaj, who is nominated for two Grammy Awards in the Best New Artist Category and Best Rap Performance Category, respectively. She said,
At the end of the day, everyone wants to be recognized and everyone wants to at least feel like you recognize that this is hard work. People think that they can become an artist overnight. People think that a cute face or a nice car makes them a rapper. But a musician is so much more than that. But in terms of me and my career, the Grammys is everything. It's the only thing to a music artist. It's what you live for. This is what you work for.
And it was precisely this sentiment that I felt compelled to write the letter in 2011. I knew that if no one stood up and defended the point-of-view from an artist such as Eminem, that the introspection required by NARAS and the Grammy Award Show would never happen -- that we would all remain conveniently oblivious to what was happening. As I had no skin in the game it was easier for me to take that risk and voice my opinion.
It is, however, my sincere hope that this year's Grammy Award Show takes into consideration the critical importance and high value that the artist places on winning this coveted award and its overall importance on the legacy of music in our culture. I would like to believe that after last year's fervent discussions on the topic that there have been some adjustments and modifications to both the format of the show and a review of the voting procedures and processes. I hope. We will certainly be more informed viewers this year than last.
If you would like to join me on Sunday I will be sharing my opinions during the broadcast of the show via Twitter @stevestoute. I would love the open dialogue in hopes that the show truly expresses the high integrity that this award should represent.