After changing their “urban” category to “progressive” a few months ago, the Grammy Awards organization has just announced that it is renaming “Best World Music Album” to “Best Global Music Album” to avoid “connotations of colonialism.”
The Recording Academy announced that this decision was made after long talks with artists, linguists and ethnomusicologists from around the world who had encouraged the US institution to rename the “Best World Music Album” to adopt a “more relevant, modern and inclusive term.” The awards thus want to better represent current listening trends and the cultural evolution of different communities.
The Grammy Awards launched the “Best World Music Album” category back in 1992, to celebrate excellence in music albums from around the world. This definition comprised very different genres including non-Western classical music to world beat, world jazz, world pop and transcultural music.
According to Billboard, this prize has been awarded five times to Brazilian artists, four times to US ones, three times to musicians from India, South Africa and Benin, as well as twice to Malian and French artists.
The term “World Music” has been criticised by members of the music industry for several years. For instance, former Talking Heads leader, David Byrne, wrote an opinion column in The New York Times in 1999 stating: “I hate World Music.” “It’s a label for anything at all that is not sung in English or anything that doesn’t fit into the Anglo-Western pop universe this year….. It’s a none too subtle way of reasserting the hegemony of Western pop culture. It ghettoises most of the world’s music. A bold and audacious move, White Man!”, Byrne wrote at the time.
This change for the “Best World Music Album” will come into effect during the 63rd edition of the Grammy Awards, next January 31.
The Recording Academy had announced last June that the “Best Urban Contemporary Album” would be renamed “Best Progressive R&B Album” “to appropriately categorise and describe this sub-genre.”