When the Grammys return in January, five new categories and a special nod to diversity will join the parade of awards.
The Recording Academy, which produces the annual Grammy Awards, has added recognition for songwriter of the year (non-classical), best alternative music performance, best Americana musical performance, best score soundtrack for video games and other interactive media, best spoken word poetry album and a special merit award for best song for social change.
The latter category is especially significant given the organization’s efforts in recent years to amplify diversity and “continue cultivating an environment that inspires change, progress and collaboration,” said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr.
There will now be 91 competitive categories.
That special merit award will be presented by the Academy Trustees to recognize “creators of message-driven music that responds to the social issues of our time and has the potential for positive global impact.”
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Since 2018, the Recording Academy has attempted to reform its stodgy reputation with the creation of a diversity and inclusion task force and efforts to create a more transparent voting process.
In 2021, the Recording Academy invited 2,700 music creators of varying demographics including 48% female, 32% Black, 13% Hispanic or Latino and 4% Asian or Pacific Islander. Of those invited, 83% accepted.
For this year’s ceremony, the Grammys adopted an inclusion rider that required producers to audition, interview and hire people from groups that have been historically and systematically excluded from the industry.
This year’s awards also offered a varied catalog of winners, from Jon Batiste taking home five awards, including the album of the year for “We Are,” to Olivia Rodrigo’s three trophies, including best new artist.
The other additions to the 2023 awards slate are non-gender-specific, with the alternative and Americana categories open to solo artists, collaborating artists and established duos or groups.
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Songwriter of the year will recognize the “most prolific non-performing and non-producing songwriters for their body of new work,” while soundtrack for video games and other interactive media targets specifically created original scores. The spoken word poetry album can be a performance with or without music.
The Recording Academy also tweaked a few other rules, including album eligibility. Now, albums must contain more than 75% newly recorded (within five years of the release date) or previously unreleased recordings, an increase from 50 percent.
The 65th annual Grammy Awards ceremony is set to return to Los Angeles Jan. 31 after this year’s COVID-related detour to Las Vegas.