Latin jazz artists sue Grammys for dropping their category

Wed Aug 3, 2011 11:13am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four Latin jazz artists are suing the organizers of the Grammy Awards, alleging the elimination of their category from next year's competition has caused them irreparable harm.

Musicians Robert Sanabria, Benjamin Lapidus, Mark Levine and Eugene Marlow accused the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Inc. of violating its fiduciary and contractual obligations in April when it cut 31 categories from the annual awards ceremony, including Latin jazz.

The musicians' complaint was filed earlier this week in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

The lawsuit also accused the Academy of failing to consider the adverse impact the decision would have on the musicians' careers.

"There's nothing like having the ability to say 'Grammy-nominated,' 'Grammy-award-winning,'" their lawyer Roger Maldonado said on Tuesday.

The plaintiffs, who are seeking class-action status, accused the Academy specifically of failing to solicit input from the voting members of its 12 nationwide chapters before announcing the eliminations.

The Academy said in a statement: "The Recording Academy believes this frivolous lawsuit is without merit, and we fully expect to prevail."

In its news release announcing the eliminations, Academy officials said all general musical genres, such as rock, country, and jazz, would remain intact. The number of categories, however, would be condensed from 109 to 78.

"A transformation of the entire awards structure would ensure that all Fields would be treated with parity," the release said.   Continued...

<p>Charlie Haden poses backstage with his award at the 47th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles February 13, 2005. He won for best latin jazz album with "Land of the Sun." REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>