Reggae legend, Freddie McGregor has hit out at decision makers for the Best Reggae Album Grammy award, calling it an ’embarrassment’ to Jamaican music and insists foreigners should not be deciding this prestigious honour.
The Recording Academy announced the official nominees for the 59th Grammy Awards earlier this month. Those jostling for prestige in the reggae category include the Sly and Robbie-produced Reggae For Her by Devin Di Dakta and J.L. as well as six-time reggae Grammy winner, Ziggy Marley for his self-titled album, Raging Fyah for Everlasting and two American acts: J Boog for Rose Petals and Rebelution for Falling Into Place.
However, McGregor remains dissatisfied with the selection process. Since the inception of the Best Reggae Album award in 1984, the Marley family – notably Ziggy, Stephen and Damian Marley – have won the accolade 14 times. Ziggy and Stephen each have three as solo acts and three as members of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers while Damian has two for Half Way Tree and Welcome to Jamrock.
Additionally, Ziggy’s Israeli-born wife and manager, Orly Agai Marley was recently elected a governor of the Los Angeles chapter of the Grammys executive committee and is reportedly the current chairman of the Reggae Grammy Committee.
On Monday, McGregor released a blunt statement about the matter, saying, “When we allow non-Jamaicans to be the judge of our own Jamaican music, we have certainly lost it, and the reggae Grammy is officially a toy and a play thing for the West Coast of the United States.”
He added, “I think what is happening is a slow deliberate deletion of our music form, and if we don’t have Jamaicans on a panel to determine the best reggae album, how can white people decide that for us? We should always have our own reggae award, but when one lives in a country where governments don’t like or support the music culture, the music will die. No wonder Jamaicans in Jamaica don’t buy music anymore. It is a disgrace that the country that has created such a powerful music is now relying upon foreigners to tell us what is good reggae music.”
Considering the award’s recent trend, Ziggy Marley may well be the frontrunner to win the reggae Grammy in 2017. Since Toots and the Maytals won it in 2005 for True Love, a Marley has won the category every other year since. Damian, Ziggy and Stephen won it respectively from 2006 until 2008.