PASADENA, Calif. – Gloria Estefan knows that things aren’t going well for the Grammy Awards.
Estefan, a three-time Grammy winner and 12-time nominee, hopes there is a way forward for the Grammy Awards, which air Feb. 10 on CBS (8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST), after recent controversies around the major categories failing to recognize women artists, especially women of color.
Speaking to the Television Critics Association Friday, to promote her upcoming PBS special, “Emilio & Gloria Estefan: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” (Friday, May 3), the legendary artist recognized the problems within the Recording Academy, the body that votes on the awards.
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“You know, the Grammy voters, the vast majority are men,” she said. “Because women haven’t really been in the industry in the numbers that men have. As a matter of fact when I joined the band back in the ’80s, there were very few lead singers that were women.”
The Recording Academy says it has made concerted efforts over the past year to diversify its voting body of roughly 12,000: reaching out to women and people of color specifically about becoming new members while requiring longtime members to re-qualify based on recent work.
Additionally, the four major categories (album, record and song of the year, as well as best new artist) have all been newly expanded from five to eight nominees, making room for a broader range of artists and genres to get acknowledged.
Frustrations with getting artists of color recognized was part of the reason Estefan’s husband, producer Emilio Estefan, helped start the Latin Grammys, which were first awarded in 2000, in the first place, Estefan said.
“Like when Emilio started the Latin Grammys with Mike Green, that was why he did it,” she said, “because all Latin music was only given five awards. And that’s impossible because there are so many genres.”
Estefan pointed to initiatives in film and television, like Time’s Up, that work to correct systemic inequalities in the industry, that could be replicated in the music world.
“So as we’re seeing women supporting each other, maybe there are initiatives that we can do, and I know they’re coming both in film and and in television,” she said. “Maybe we could do the same thing with music, where we somehow start nurturing and empowering younger women in the business. There’s plenty of them, believe me. There (are) so many good artists.” Estefan is sure that eventually “those initiatives will happen.”
Inevitably, she thinks that more women need to be voting members in the Academy.
“I think as more women become writers and artists that should help because (they’ll) become voting members … So maybe women we can get together and give a hand to the women artists that (are) coming.”
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