After three nominees for the Grammy Awards’ Best Children’s Music Album asked to be removed from the ballot due to a lack of diversity in the category, the Recording Academy will not count the votes for the three nominees who objected and will award the Grammy to whichever of the remaining two nominees receives the most votes, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.
Billboard first reported the news and further says that the remaining two nominees, Joanie Leeds and Justin Roberts, were informed of the decision by Academy executives after executives agreed with the decision that the nomination committee was not diverse.
However, Billboard also notes that the three objecting nominees were not immediately informed of the decision. One of the members of the Okee Dokey Brothers band said he was surprised and that his bandmates “are pleased to hear that we are no longer an official nominee this year; that the Academy adhered to our request, and that there is no chance we will win this award.”
Last month, nominees The Okee Dokee Brothers, Alastair Mock and Dog on Fleas sent a letter to the Recording Academy requesting that their names be removed from final-round ballots which resulted in all-white nominees, calling the category’s lack of diversity an “embarrassment for the field of children’s music.” However, ballots had already been sent out, and final voting ended on Monday, so the nominees remained on the ballot.
“We are deeply grateful to the Recording Academy and its voting members for the honor we’ve received, but we can’t in good conscience benefit from a process that has — both this year and historically — so overlooked women, performers of color, and most especially Black performers,” the joint letter said. They added that roughly 6% of nominated acts in the children’s music category in the past decade have been led by Black artists, 8% have been led by non-Black artists of color and 30% have been led by women.
The nominees then met with Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy’s CEO, and Valeisha Butterfield Jones, the Academy’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer, along with leaders from Family Music Forward, an artist collective focused on supporting Black artists in the children’s music industry. Billboard now reports that during that Dec. 11 meeting, executives agreed that the nominating review committee was not diverse enough.
Though this year’s Grammys made some strides toward diversifying nominees in other categories, artists and listeners alike have been vocal about the awards show’s historic missteps when it comes to honoring — and categorizing — artists of color, particularly when it comes to Black artists.
The Grammys were postponed from Jan. 31 due to rising COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles and were rescheduled to March 14.