A few white, male artists and bands are protesting the 2021 Grammy Awards by declining to keep their names on the ballots. They are doing so in protest of the Grammy’s nearly unbelievable inability to choose more artists of color and women as contenders for these awards.
Let’s take a look at a handful of these artists, and the reasons for their protests.
All Contenders for ‘Best Children’s Album’ Are White
These are the nominees for Best Children’s Music Album. As stated on the Grammys website, this award is “for albums containing at least 51% playing time of new musical or spoken word recordings that are created and intended specifically for children.”
The nominees include:
- All the Ladies by Joanie Leeds
- Be a Pain: An Album for Young (and Old) Leaders by Alastair Moock and Friends
- I’m An Optimist by Dog on Fleas
- Songs for Singin’ by the Okee Dokee Brothers
- Wild Life by Justin Roberts
Three of Five Nominees Have Declined
All of the nominees in this category are white men, with the exception of Joanie Leeds, a white woman. Alastair Moock said of the nominees, “After this year, to have an all-white slate of nominees seemed really tone-deaf…I don’t want it like this, where the playing field’s not even.” Moock decided to decline his nomination.
Joe Mailander of the Okee Dokee Brothers told NPR, “We thought that it was the strongest thing we could do, to stand with people of color whose albums are too often left out of the Grammy nominations…This is not just white guys with guitars playing for kids. We want to welcome all different types of music to this community.”
Justin Lansing of the same duo said that in a genre “tasked with modeling fairness and kindness to kids and families,” it isn’t right to systemically suppress minority voices.
It’s worth noting that the Okee Dokee brothers have already been nominated in this category four times in the past, winning once at the 55th Grammy Awards.
Moock, Mailander, Lansing, and Dog on Fleas all wrote a letter to the Grammys asking that their names be removed from the ballots, writing, “[We] couldn’t in good conscience benefit from a process that has historically overlooked women and artists of color.”
That leaves Justin Roberts and Joanie Leeds as the only nominees to choose not to decline their nominations.
Leeds said of her album, “I didn’t decline because my album is really about empowering young women. I mean, I have 20 women on my album. So for us, it was like it was kind of counter to our empowering women message to step down.”
She continued, “I know that this is really about the guys that dropped out, but I feel like a lot of times women are kind of left on the side. It’s a shame. I wish there was more equality with women.”