by Rachel Swan
Musicians who were irate over the elimination of 31 Grammy categories this year — mostly in Latin, world, roots, and alternative music genres — have taken their anger one step further. After returning his 2003 and 2010 Latin Grammy nominations to protest the cuts, local pianist Mark Levine teamed up with fellow musicians Eugene Marlow, Ben Lapidus, and Bobby Sanabria to file suit against the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. They've also called for a boycott of CBS, which broadcasts the Grammys every year. They allege that the Academy has breached its contractual obligations to members by not soliciting their opinions before it made the cuts. They contend, moreover, that NARAS' decision caused "irreparable harm" to the plaintiffs by potentially hindering their careers (given that they no longer have a shot at the most prestigious award in music).
The musicians are seeking class action status, and plan to sue in June, 2012, barring the unforeseen. Right now they're only concerned with Latin jazz categories, but say they'd happily align with any country, R&B, classical, or folk musicians who also want to file suit for getting unduly expunged from next year's awards ceremony. Spokespeople from NARAS have called the lawsuit "frivolous."