Kacey Musgraves will not appear in the country music categories at the upcoming Grammys.
Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. made the decision last week to dub the singer’s latest achievement, star-crossed, ineligible for the country album category.
While Musgraves has yet to respond publicly, Cindy Mabe, the president of Universal Music Group Nashville, penned an open letter to Mason expressing her dismay with his decision.
According to Billboard, members of the screening committees can reject recordings if they do not feel they fit into the genre, though they remain eligible for the all-genre Album of the Year category.
“This decision from the country committee to not accept star-crossed into the country albums category is very inconsistent and calls into question the other agendas that were part of this decision,” Mabe wrote in the letter, via Billboard. “As a prime stakeholder in country music, I would really like to frame what’s happening in our genre right now and help you and the Grammy’s fully understand the importance of Kacey Musgraves to country music and why this decision is so much more than an entry point for an awards show. Taking her out of the country category actually does harm to a format struggling with change and inclusivity overall.”
Mabe continued, “The numbers speak and are a matter of public record with women making up only 10 percent of all country airplay. This year alone country music has been mired in the controversy surrounding one of the formats biggest artists, Morgan Wallen, who used a racial slur and grew fans and audience from it. THIS IS NOT ALL THAT WE ARE. Under the surface are the artists that change it all and they are led by the example of Kacey Musgraves.”
Musgraves, who released star-crossed on Sept. 10, has six Grammy awards. Two of those wins are in the country album category – in 2014 for Same Trailer Different Park and in 2019 for Golden Hour. Golden Hour also won Album of the Year that year.
“Sonically, it’s got more country instrumentation than Golden Hour which won country album of the year in 2019. To compare Golden Hour to star-crossed, both albums were produced by Ian Fitchuk, Daniel Tashian and Kacey Musgraves. Both albums were mixed by Shawn Everett,” Mabe explained. “On Golden Hour, Ian, Daniel and Kacey wrote 7 of the 13 songs and on star-crossed they wrote 11 of the 15. Both albums complete each other with Golden Hour telling the story of falling in love and star-crossed telling the conclusion of the breakup. There is no departure in sound from these two projects. This album was consistently classified as country throughout it’s metadata and overall labeling across the DSP accounts and partners. star-crossed appeared on every major country playlist of every DSP.”
She added, “The idea that a handful of people including competitors, who would benefit from Kacey not being in the country category, are deciding what is country only exacerbates the problem. The system is broken and sadly not just for Kacey Musgraves but for our entire genre because of how these decisions are made for music’s biggest stage. Building roadblocks for artists who dare to fight the system is so dangerous and against everything I think the Grammy’s stand for. But that’s where we are today.”
The 64th annual Grammy Awards will be held Jan. 31.
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