Latino Artists Sue Grammy Awards for Eliminating Their Category

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Disclaimer: I haven’t read the complaint, nor have I seen any contract between the organizers of the Grammy awards and the four Latin jazz artists who are now suing them, alleging the elimination of their category from next year’s competition has caused them irreparable harm.

Musicians Robert Sanabria, Benjamin Lapidus, Mark Levine and Eugene Marlow accused the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of violating its fiduciary and contractual obligations in April when it cut 31 categories from the annual awards ceremony, including Latin jazz. The lawsuit also accused the academy of failing to consider the adverse impact the decision would have on the musicians’ careers. It appears that there nationwide chapters with voting rights concerning the Grammies, and the plantiffs claim that their rights were also violated when the organizers failed to obtain their input before making the decision to drop the category.

The first thought I had was exactly what contractual obligation would the organizers of the awards have towards these Latino artists, or any artists for that matter? It seems strange that there is a contract that the organizers signed with these chapters, promising that they would put on the awards and that a certain number of categories would be offered. Would an organization also have a duty towards these artists? I find that hard to imagine as well.

The academy, which organizes the Grammies, has stated that they intend to fight the suit and call it “frivolous.” I will hold judgment till I see a copy of the complaint (if I can find one online) and the documents like the agreement between the parties, but I remain skeptical.


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