Published:Sunday | December 12, 2021 | 12:06 AMYasmine Peru – Sunday Gleaner Writer
The final round of voting, which will determine the recipients of the annual Grammy Awards, opened on December 6, and Grammy-nominated producer Cristy Barber is ready to go.
“There is no better art to have in your home than a Grammy,” she tells The Sunday Gleaner.
Barber is one of 13,000 Grammy voters, and she is as seasoned as it gets and is always willing to share her knowledge with those representing reggae music. In fact, getting the genre’s members repping on the ballots has been her personal quest since 2004, when there was only one registered Grammy voter in Jamaica. While she is still unhappy about the relatively small numbers that are members of the Recording Academy, she is hopeful and will continue her awareness campaign “until Beres Hammond gets the Grammy he deserves”.
This year, in particular, Barber is in full celebration mode and wishes that the reggae music industry, in general, would see the significance of the accomplishments of three women – Spice, Etana, and Shenseea – all of whom have been nominated.
“There is so much to cheerlead about instead of nit-picking about an Instagram post. What Shenseea has done is history,” Barber said.
She was making reference to a since-adjusted Instagram post by Shenseea that she had “four nominations” for her contributions to albums by Kanye West, Major Lazer, and Masego. It is, in fact, just one — her features on West’s Album Of The Year.
Spice and Etana have secured Grammy nominations for Best Reggae Album in the same year, the first time in the history of the awards that two women are on the ballot. Spice got the nod for her debut album 10, while Etana received her second nomination for Pamoja. The other nominations in the Reggae Album category are Gramps Morgan’s Positive Vibration; Live N Livin from Sean Paul; Jesse Royal’s Royal; and Beauty In The Silence from SOJA.
Barber explained that another interesting fact about this year’s nominations in the reggae category is the fact that there are six nominees instead of the usual five.
“We had a tie, so that’s why there are six. It wasn’t made public which albums got the same number of votes, but I have an idea,” Barber said.
With voting closing on January 5, 2022, she is reminding all those who can to vote, and according to her, this year, with all the changes that the Academy has made, any album can win. She also sounded a warning that the category could be merged.
“There have been so many changes, and even for me, deemed an expert, keeping up with them can be a feat. This year, we had less than 200 submissions in our category, and we could lose it if we have low submissions. Other categories have up to 800 submissions. They are folding categories left, right and centre, and we could get folded into World, which also has African and Soca. I wouldn’t want that to happen,” she said.
The Reggae Album category had 126 submissions this year, half of which were one-riddim albums, which Barber stressed, the voters do not understand.
“The one riddim, that type of artform, is only in reggae. It’s almost like a foreign conversation. Other genres don’t understand it. A one-riddim album that only reggae people know about is not going to get a nomination. Maybe if it’s a one-riddim album by Sly and Robbie and it has on big names like Beyonce, that would take it to a whole different level,” the producer and A&R explained.
For Barber, who submitted Maxi Priest’s album in the Blues category, one-riddim albums getting recognition would be an accomplishment. “We have to make sure that people understand the submission. Nobody would love to see that more than me. It would be exposure on a grand scale.”
The 64th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held at the Crypto.comArena in Los Angeles on January 31, 2022. It will recognise the best recordings, compositions, and artistes of the eligibility year, running from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021.