Yes, this year’s stable of Grammy nominees is a bit more diverse than last year’s, but there’s still a ton of room for improvement. Take, for instance, the category of Best Children’s Music Album. This year, the categories only recognized one woman and only white artists—Joanie Leeds, Alastair Moock And Friends, Dog On Fleas, Justin Roberts, and the Okee Dokee Brothers. Usually, something like this wouldn’t drum up much more than a dash of the public’s ire and, if we’re lucky, a self-serving speech from the winner. This time, according to Billboard (as first reported by Pitchfork), three of the five nominees have decided to take some action by formally asking the Recording Academy to rescind their nominations in a joint letter.
“We are deeply grateful to the Recording Academy and its voting members for the honor we’ve received,” wrote Alastair Moock & Friends, the Okee Dokee Brothers, and Dog On Fleas, “but we can’t in good conscience benefit from a process that has—both this year and historically—so overlooked women, performers of colors, and most especially Black performers.” The statement continues: “In the past 10 years, only about 6% of nominated acts have been Black-led or co-led, another 8% or so have been non-Black-POC-led, and around 30% have been female led. These numbers would be disappointing in any category, but—in a genre whose performers are unique tasked with modeling fairness, kindness, and inclusion; in a country where more than half of all children are non-white; and after a year of national reckoning around race and gender—the numbers are unacceptable.”
The remaining nominees, Joanie Leeds and Justin Roberts, decided to stay on the ballot, but expressed their support of their fellow nominees. Specifically, Leeds detailed that receiving a nomination as a woman is a feat that affects multiple people: “It’s also not just MY nomination. I share this with 20 other women including a female Latina producer and many females in the BIPOC community.” Recording Academy’s Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer Valeisha Butterfield Jones released a statement in support and agreement with the artists choosing to give up their nominations. “Fostering more opportunities for women and people of color in the music community is one of the Recording Academy’s most urgent priorities,” Jones wrote to Pitchfork. “In launching the Black Music Collective and partnering with Color of Change, among other initiatives, we have been making progress and still have work left to do.” As of today, all five original nominees are still listed on the Recording Academy’s site and there is no word on anyone being removed from contention.