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The plethora of Grammys

Country Standard Time Editorial, March 2003

Country accorded itself quite well at the recent Grammy awards with the Dixie Chicks winning three awards handed out. And the Chicks did a killer version of their crossover hit, "Landslide," continuing to give country a good name.

A few other country folks also had their chance to spread the gospel with nominations, awards and performance.

But one aspect of the Grammys that is a bit much - and this has nothing at all to do with country music in particular - is the continuing growth of the event in terms of the amount of awards handed out.

There seems to be an exponential growth in the number of Grammys given out. This year, the figure reached 104 Grammys with others perhaps waiting in the wings.

Why is it necessary to have female and male categories fore various awards including best country singer male and female?

Why canıt Johnny Cash and Alan Jackson go head to head with Faith Hill and Dolly Parton for the best country singer? It just doesnıt seem to make a whole lot of sense to have separate categories for the sexes.

And why should there be a difference between the contemporary and traditional folk album categories? They are, in effect, different sides of the same nickel.

The Americana powers that be, for example, have been lobbying to have a Grammy in their category.

Who could blame the Americana proponents for seeking a Grammy? Doing so would not only confer status upon the winner, but more importantly upon the genre of music and category itself.

But given the fluid nature of the genre - Americana is a sometimes hard to pin down combination of country, folk, bluegrass, blues and roots type music - where does that leave such categories as folk, bluegrass and country?

In other words, it seems that there would be overlap. Right now, the best contemporary folk album category seems, in fact, to encompass what many of us would think of as Americana music.

It would be easy to nitpick and keep adding categories so that performers in various genres would have a fair shake. Sometimes it is clearly merited and worthy. But doing so ad nauseam would only cheapen the awards and the music.

Winning an award is clearly an honor. They do help spur record sales, but letıs keep the idea of winning a Grammy something special.

If that means combining categories and trying to eliminate the burgeoning number of statues, then so may it be. Doing so may only serve to strengthen the meaning of the Grammy itself.