Grammys Rename World Music Category Due To Colonialism Connotations

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 26: Angelique Kidjo accepts the Best World Music Album award for “Celia” onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Timothy Norris/Getty Images)

Grammys Rename World Music Category Due To Colonialism Connotations

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 26: Angelique Kidjo accepts the Best World Music Album award for “Celia” onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at Microsoft Theater on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Timothy Norris/Getty Images)

The Grammys are not always necessarily known for being the most in touch of institutions, but they’re trying to evolve a little bit. In 1991, the Grammys introduced the world music album category, with the intent to recognize “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.” Almost 30 years later, several aspects of that approach are outdated. In response, they’ve announced they’re changing the category to the best global music album award.

The Recording Academy explained the decision in a statement:

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.

Angelique Kidjo won this year’s Grammy for Best World Music Album for Celia. The announcement of the 63rd annual Grammy nominations are coming out in a few weeks, marking the first time the new category will be in effect. Earlier this year the Recording Academy renamed its “urban” categories as well.

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