The Recording Academy has been under fire from certain sectors for several years. The organization behind the annual Grammy Awards ceremony faced accusations of sexism and racism in its decision-making process. In addition, the Academy is sometimes viewed as an out-of-touch cabal of elites that do not actually appreciate Hip Hop as an art form.
Last year, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye gave the Grammys another black eye when the R&B/Pop megastar was completely shut out of nominations for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. The After Hours album creator called the Academy “corrupt.”
The Recording Academy is attempting to add more diversity to its membership body. The 64-year-old music-based association extended membership invitations to 2,710 music professionals.
“I know that music can connect people, and this is what I hope to bring not only to the Academy, but to the world,” expressed two-time Grammy-nominated Jamaican artist Skip Marley.
AllHipHop’s own Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur was among the new voting members of the voting class of the Recording Academy. In an instagram post, he said “I am proud to announce I am one of the newest members of the Recording Academy. I’m honored to have an opportunity to celebrate, represent, and give back to the music and its creators.”
British singer-songwriter Tiana Major9 stated, “It’s such an honor to receive an invitation to be a Recording Academy member. What I’m most looking forward to is being a part of conversations that drive progression within our industry as well as advocating for the rights of my fellow musicians.”
The Recording Academy’s Peer Review Panel of music creators evaluated new member submissions by considering criteria such as craft, genre, and overall diversity. The 2021 New Member Class is reportedly 32% Black/African American, 13% Hispanic/Latinx, and 48% women. 56% are under the age of 40.
“This is an incredibly exciting time to join the Academy and play a part in accelerating change, progress, and evolution within the music industry,” said Kelley Purcell, Vice President of Membership and Industry Relations at the Recording Academy.
Purcell continues, “Our membership body is the driving force behind our actions, and we value the contributions of our members that help ensure the Academy’s practices authentically represent the current state of music. We’re excited to see what this new group brings to the table as we enter a new era at the Academy.”
According to the Recording Academy, 55% of the new 2021 members are from “traditionally underrepresented groups.” Additionally, 44% of the invitees are vocalists, 34% are songwriters/composers, 28% are instrumentalists, 11% are producers, and 6% are engineers.
When it comes to specific genres, creators associated with rap comprise 15% of the Recording Academy’s new class. R&B is at 23%. Jazz and Alternative are at 18%, respectively. Rock is at 16%. Pop leads the way with 29%.
“Membership is the Academy’s change agent — our members drive everything we do,” said Ruby Marchand, Chief Industry Officer at the Recording Academy. “I’m inspired by the potential for each invited music creator and business professional to lend their creativity and passion to our organization.”
Marchand adds, “We are immensely proud of our accomplishments and the strides we’ve made toward equitable representation. We look forward to welcoming our new invitees as they help us shape the future of the Academy and the music industry.”
In order to participate in the process for the upcoming Grammy Awards in 2022, new members have to accept their invitations by September 15, 2021. The first nominations voting ballot runs from October 22 through November 5. The 64th Grammy Awards are scheduled for January 31, 2022, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.