Roger Steffens explains the Grammy process on 18 Karat Reggae.

Roger Steffens Roger Steffens

An 18 Karat Reggae article about steps being taken by the Grammy Awards to remove the Marley bias from how the reggae Grammy is awarded caught the attention of author and reggae historian, Roger Steffens.

Steffens commented on the article and painted a clear picture of how the Grammy Awards word.  We have decided that rather than pick parts of his comments, we would share the entire thing with our readers.  After all, he is not only a reggae historian but he is also the founding chairman of the Reggae Grammy Committee.

Below is Mr. Steffens contribution in its entirety.

As the founding chairman in 1984 of the Reggae Grammy Committee and its chair for 27 years, I have heard all these arguments for decades – and made some of the same ones myself. But let us be absolutely clear about the facts. The committee is a Screening committee only. That means they do not choose any of the nominees at all. They only screen to make sure all the potential nominees are, in fact, legitimately reggae albums. Nothing more.

Also, the gratuitous mention of Mrs. Ziggy Marley as “jewish” is outrageous, defamatory and on its face, anti-semitic. Her faith has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject at hand.

It is up to the general membership of the Recording Academy, somewhere around 14,000 people, to vote in the first round and choose the five albums that will be the actual nominees. The second round, with far fewer voters among the membership (they would never reveal the actual numbers to us), chooses the winner. Obviously the name recognition of the Marleys is a tremendous asset, especially among those who choose to vote in the Reggae category who know little about our music.

I have in other places suggested that Ziggy, already holder of a significant number of trophies, withdraw his name from future consideration, and open the way for other worthy artists to share a little of the glory. This is not meant in any way to denigrate his remarkable achievements and contributions to the form. But – when is enough, enough?

-Roger Steffens, author “So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley

While we wanted to present Mr. Steffens contribution in its full form with nothing added and nothing taken away, we must clarify one thing.  Mr. Steffens claims that the mention of Ziggy Marley’s wife ethnicity is “on its face, anti-semitic”.  We reject that notion completely, as 18 Karat Reggae writers are from a very diverse background. We do not tolerate or support bigotry and racism in any form.   We do oppose oppression and apartheid. whether it is against Blacks in Africa or Palestinians in Palestine.

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