Three of the five Grammys 2021 nominees for Best Children’s Album have requested to be removed from consideration in the category due to the lack of diversity, as Pitchfork reports. Alastair Moock & Friends, the Okee Dokee Brothers, and Dog on Fleas shared their letter addressed to the Recording Academy on Instagram.
They stated that after much discussion with their “black, brown, and white peers” and their families that they “have come to the conclusion that it’s in the best interest of our genre for us to decline our nominations. We respectfully ask that our names be removed from the final round ballots.”
While they expressed gratitude to the Recording Academy and voting members for the honor, they added that “we can’t in good conscience benefit from a process that has — both this year and historically — so overlooked women, performers of color, and most especially black performers.”
The artists point out that only one of this year’s nominees, Joanie Leeds, is a woman, and all five of them are white. They cite that through the last decade, “only about 6 percent of nominated acts have been black led or co-led, another 8 percent or so have been non-black POC-led, and around 30 percent have been female led.
“These numbers would be disappointing in any category but — in a genre whose performers are uniquely tasked with modeling fairness, kindness, and inclusion, in a country where more than half of all children are non-white, and after a year of national reckoning around race and gender — the numbers are unacceptable.”
Fellow category nominees Justin Roberts and Leeds did not sign the letter. In a statement to Pitchfork, first time nominee Leeds said that after conversations with her fellow nominees “it was collectively determined that removing [her album All the Ladies] from the ballot would be counter to the message of my album and my goal for gender equality and inclusion of women in the music industry.”
“Although we may have different methods, we are all committed to the same goal: making systematic changes to ensure that diverse, high-quality music is celebrated, available to all, and that it reflects the diversity of all children,” Roberts said in his statement via Pitchfork. “While I applaud my fellow nominees who have chosen to decline their nominations, I have chosen to work with the Recording Academy, the BMC, and elected leaders who are passionate about transformation.”
The Recording Academy’s Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Valeisha Butterfield Jones, told Pitchfork that one of its most “urgent priorities” is fostering opportunities for women and people of color.
“In launching the Black Music Collective and partnering with Color of Change, among other initiatives, we have been making progress and still have work left to do,” Jones said in the statement. “The slate of nominees for this year’s GRAMMY Awards are among the most diverse and we will continue to push for even greater inclusion and representation. We have met with Family Music Forward and others to reaffirm our commitment to drive necessary change. We are confident that together our industry can keep moving forward.”