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Grammy Awards Rename World Music Category Over “Connotations Of Colonialism”

Angélique Kidjo with the 2020 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album | Image: Timothy Norris/Getty Images/AFP

The Recording Academy has announced that the Grammy Award for “Best World Music Album” has been renamed. The award will now be called “Best Global Music Album”.

The award which is presented annually to recording artists for quality albums in the world music genre has now been renamed to reflect a “more relevant, inclusive” term.

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The Recording Academy, in a statement on Monday, said: “As we continue to embrace a truly global mindset, we update our language to reflect a more appropriate categorization that seeks to engage and celebrate the current scope of music from around the world.

“Over the summer we held discussions with artists, ethnomusicologists, and linguists from around the world who determined that there was an opportunity to update the best world music album category toward a more relevant, modern, and inclusive term… The change symbolizes a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk, and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied while adapting to current listening trends and cultural evolution among the diverse communities it may represent.”

This is coming months after the Oscars renamed the international category “Best Foreign Language Film” to “Best International Feature Film”.

The Academy added: “Global Music will continue to provide a home for influential music from all parts of the globe yet bringing with it a fresh perspective fueled by authenticity, diversity, and direct inclusion into our process.”

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, winners of Best World Music Album for ‘Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Celebration’, accept the award onstage at the Premiere Ceremony during the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 28, 2018 in New York City.

Here is how the Recording Academy defines the category in its current online guidebook:

“This category recognizes excellence in albums of world music, including recordings of international non-Western classical music, international non-American and non-British traditional folk music, international cross-cultural music based on the previously mentioned genres as well as international recordings of world beat, world jazz (with a higher percentage of world than jazz music), world pop and cross-cultural music. Albums of reggae, Latin or European pop music aren’t eligible in this category and should be entered in other categories as appropriate.”

The Academy introduced the category in 1991. The first winner, in February 1992, was Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum. Ry Cooder was the first two-time winner in the category. Ravi Shankar and Ladysmith Black Mambazo have also won twice in the category. Angélique Kidjo is the only three-time winner in the category to date.

Nominations for the 2021 Grammys will be announced on 24 November.

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