King Cake is the title of Los Angeles-based fiddler Lisa Haley's recent album, which is nominated as "Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album" alongside Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie's Le Cowboy Creole; The Lost Bayou Ramblers' Live: Á La Blue Moon; the Pine Leaf Boys' Blues De Musicien; Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars' The La Louisianne Sessions; Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience's Live! Worldwide; and Racines for their self-titled release.
It will be a travesty and major embarrassment if California's Haley wins the Cajun/zydeco Grammy, which is why — despite serious reservations about the Grammy Awards and their relevance these days — I'm renewing my membership with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Annual membership costs $100; to become a voting member of the Academy, you must have credits on six commercially released tracks. This applies to creative and technical professionals including vocalists, musicians, producers, engineers, conductors, arrangers, art directors, album notes writers (that's how I qualify), narrators, and music video artists and technicians. Associate and affiliate non-voting memberships are also available for music retailers, attorneys, educators, students and more. I've always thought it's disappointing that some of the most knowledgeable potential voters — the fans who buy albums and attend concerts — aren't eligible to vote at least in some capacity. The Grammy Awards, however, are billed as honors given by musicians' peers.
But if some of your peers are clueless, have an agenda or are adept at politicking, that's where the Grammy Awards can be hijacked. A purely hypothetical example: a musician in Los Angeles, home to extensive music-industry infrastructure and a large swath of Grammy voters, could work the phones and ask friends and associates to vote for his or her album. And if they're competing in a category with a smaller pool of voting members — say, Louisiana NARAS members — you can guess what might happen. On a purely local level, the same axiom holds: a 10-piece Louisiana band with more voting members and friends has a better chance out of the gate of winning the Grammy than a five-piece Louisiana band.
That's just one of the reasons I've let my NARAS membership lapse for the last five years, because the honor system of voting for the best album in each category can be manipulated. On other fronts, most major record labels have done little to endear themselves to consumers in the past decade. With the advent of the CD format, record labels reissued their catalogs on CD at price points designed to maintain profit levels, charging customers in the neighborhood of $20 to repurchase albums they already had on vinyl or cassette. Then when music started showing up on the Internet on trading sites like Napster and Kaaza, they acted like a wailing giant behemoth, with the Recording Industry of America even suing a 65-year-old Massachusetts grandmother who'd never even heard of file-sharing for copyright violations. Protecting artists' intellectual property is a serious issue, but the major record labels lost a lot of supporters with their hamfisted responses. And as the industry spiraled downward while record companies tried to figure out a plan, a lot of the backbone and heart of the industry — independent retailers, publicists, promoters, etc. — went out of business.
If I sound like a broken-record nattering nabob of negativity, here's why I'm renewing my NARAS membership: I'd hate to see NARAS' and the Grammys' shortcomings outweigh the many positive things they do. In the past two years, through the NARAS' MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund, the Music Rising program and Grammy Foundation preservation grants, nearly $4 million has been dispersed to music professionals and organizations affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In addition to its hurricane relief efforts, NARAS recently named Reid Wick as NARAS' Gulf Coast membership coordinator. I've known longtime New Orleans educator and musician Wick for more than a decade, and if there's anyone who can beef up NARAS' musician outreach and professional development programs in Louisiana, it's him. Free NARAS seminars and programming, along with various industry discounts, are all benefits of membership.
And more important, even if the Grammys' stature has waned in recent years, winning a Cajun/zydeco Grammy Award can only serve to possibly help local artists, through increased industry recognition.
In 1989, The Grammys suffered one of its biggest embarrassments when Jethro Tull won Best Heavy Metal album — over Metallica. Let's hope we don't have a similar result when the winner of the first Cajun/zydeco Grammy is announced Feb. 10.
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, surprised few in the Hub City Wednesday afternoon when he made (semi) official what most of us have known for months: He is running to replace Joey Durel as city-parish president.
Louisiana's first black Republican state senator since Reconstruction — who was a Republican before he was a Democrat before he was a Republican again — is accusing Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of using the black community for votes and providing nothing in return.
LSU's governing board has backed new hospital privatization contracts that give hospital managers greater ease to leave the deal and fewer restrictions about must-have services.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
There was a time when United Ballot had a political stranglehold so tight on Lafayette’s black community it was nearly unbreakable, but that grip might be loosening.
The race for Lafayette city marshal may not be the most exciting of this year’s local political contests, but it could prove the most historic.
With the DA’s race too close to call and negative media coverage of Mike Harson on the ebb, will challenger Keith Stutes take the gloves off?
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.
Even though the Louisiana Democratic Party has thrown its support behind former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ congressional bid, national Democrats are not expected to follow suit.
“[Mike] is no longer the energetic ADA that his recent ad is trying to portray. I just think Mike needs to get the hell out.” — Kermit Harson, DA Mike Harson’s brother
The New Orleans Saints have listed Jonathan Goodwin as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, raising the prospect that second-year pro Tim Lelito will start at center for the first time.