The 2022 Grammys are just weeks away now, and ahead of then, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. and co-presidents Valeisha Butterfield Jones and Panos A. Panay chatted with Billboard about the state of the Academy and answered some questions about the Grammys. Notably, they responded to criticism about deeming Kacey Musgraves’ album Star-Crossed ineligible for the Best Country Album award, about which Musgraves was not pleased.
In the Billboard feature, they were asked about criticism over “removing works, including those from Kacey Musgraves and Brandi Carlile, from the genres in which they were submitted and reslotting them elsewhere.” The question was, “Why shouldn’t an entry stay where the label or the creator of the work thinks it belongs?” To that, Mason responded:
“You’re seeing genre lines blurring. You’re seeing people switching from song to song as to what [their music] sounds like. With the screening committees, we’re listening and making sure that we’re paying attention to that, because if not, we’re just stereotyping everything: ‘Oh, this person makes these types of songs, they should go in that category.’ The committees are made up of the artist’s peers. They’re evaluating and deciding, ‘Does this fit within the confines of the construct of what this category means?’ Those definitions are created by our members that are ratified by our board. If we’re opening it up to just anyone to decide where they want to submit, there could potentially be problems that come along with that. But also, you have to remember that we are looking at the process and how we do everything is always up for review.”
Mason also responded to a question about negative feedback, including that received after The Weeknd’s infamous 2021 Grammy snubs, and whether it’s distracting. Mason said, “It’s not distracting, it’s understandable. People that make music are passionate people inherently. These [projects] are their babies. When they get upset, it doesn’t affect us or offend us. Getting this right is the priority. The perception of the academy and our process is important because it allows us to do the work that we want to do. Having input from the community is important. Sometimes it might be nice not to hear it always in the press; maybe it’d be nice to get a phone call or a text. But regardless of how we get it, it’s important that we evaluate it and find out actionable steps on how to be better. At the end of the day, when our members and our community say, ‘We’d like to look at something differently and we think there is a new way of doing this, it’s better,’ we listen, and we move.”
Read the full feature here.