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Grammy organizers aim to reflect many voices of recording community

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Everybody knows that the Grammys are given out in a annual awards ceremony like the one being broadcast from New York tonight (the show, hosted by Garry Shandling, begins at 8 p.m. on CBS, Channel 11 locally). Most people understand that, with 79 categories in all, only a handful get announced live on TV; the others are awarded in an afternoon ceremony.

But how many of us know who actually votes on the awards?

No, it isn't the accountants at Price Waterhouse who do the deciding. Nor is the voting done by a telephone poll of average music fans, as is the case with the American Music Awards.

Instead, the Grammys are decided upon by recording professionals, the 6,000 or so voting members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).

"These are people who have contributed either creatively or technically on over six commercially released records," explains NARAS president Michael Greene. That means not only singing stars like Bette Midler or Barbra Streisand, but also producers, session players, recording engineers and the like.

"We have quite a few technical people," he adds, "but I would say they are probably 15 percent of the total membership. The balance is pretty much creative people."

As a result, NARAS has a built-in bias against industry types. In fact, says Greene, "most record company presidents and vice presidents can't join the academy."

Record companies can nominate recordings, though, and do so with a vengeance. Any recording released between Oct. 1, 1989 and Sept.30, 1990 was eligible for this year's Grammy competition, says Greene, and by the time all the submissions had been collected, screened and categorized, there were "somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000 entries" in the 79 categories.

All voters have a voice in the top four categories -- Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist -- but are then restricted to only nine of the 27 Grammy fields. "A field is like the pop field, the rock field, or the classical field," he explains. "So that keeps riff-raff out of fields that they don't know anything about."

After that first vote, the nominating ballot is boiled down to five entries per category -- the list which was announced Jan. 10. "Then it goes to the membership, and on Feb. 9, the voting closed," Greene says. "They are now in the process of tabulating, and we'll know the winners at the same time you do."

In short, the Grammy process makes every effort to maintain its identity as the voice of the recordings community. Even so, not everyone is happy with the way things turn out. Earlier this month, singer Sinead O'Connor, who was nominated for

four awards this year, announced that she would have no part of the Grammys ceremony, to the point of refusing any award she might win.

Why? Because, as a letter she sent to NARAS put it, the Grammys "acknowledge mostly the commercial side of art."

Greene disagrees.

"It's unfortunate, after she got blown away by [the] over-commerciality of the MTV Awards and the American Music Awards, that she decided to [attack] the Grammys," he says. "Because if you look at our performances this year -- Bob Dylan, Living Colour, Tracy Chapman, Aerosmith, a tribute to Marian Anderson with Kathleen Battle -- you're looking at performances thatare not overtly commercial."

Besides, he says, it's not that the less-commercial recordings go ignored. "It's just that the voting membership many times keeps them categorized out of those top four categories.

"Those are the only categories, those four, that the entire membership votes on," he stresses. "And when you consider that we are such a pluralistic music society within the Academy -- we've got Hispanics, contemporary Christians, metal heads, rappers, classical and jazz musicians all voting in those four categories -- you're getting a more populist consensus than you get in the other categories."

Tonight's Grammy ballot

The following awards will be

announced during tonight's broadcast.

The list is subject to change.

Record of the year:

* "Another Day in Paradise," Phil Collins

* "From a Distance," Bette Midler

* "Nothing Compares 2 U," Sinead O'Connor

* "U Can't Touch This," M.C. Hammer

* 'Vision of Love," Mariah Carey

Album of the year:

* "Back on the Block," Quincy Jones

* ". . . But Seriously," Phil Collins

* "Mariah Carey," Mariah Carey

* "Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em," M.C. Hammer

* "Wilson Phillips," Wilson Phillips

rTC Song of the year:

* "Another Day in Paradise," Phil Collins

* "From a Distance," Julie Gold

L * "Hold On," Chynna Phillips, Glen Ballard and Carnie Wilson

* "Nothing Compares 2 U," Prince

* "Vision of Love," Mariah Carey and Ben Margulies

Pop vocal performance, female:

* "All Around the World," Lisa Stansfield

* "From a Distance," Bette Midler

* "I'm Your Baby Tonight," Whitney Houston

* "Nothing Compares 2 U," Sinead O'Connor

* "Vision of Love," Mariah Carey

Pop vocal performance, male:

* "Another Day in Paradise," Phil Collins

* "Downtown Train," Rod Stewart

* "Georgia on My Mind," Michael Bolton

* "I Don't Have the Heart," James Ingram

* "Oh Pretty Woman" (From a Black & White Night Live), Roy Orbison

* "Storm Front," Billy Joel

Pop performance, duo or group:

* "Across the River," Bruce Hornsby and the Range

* "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You," Heart

* "All My Life," Linda Ronstadt with Aaron Neville

* "Hold On," Wilson Phillips

* "Roam," B-52's

L * "Unchained Melody" (1990 Re-recording), Righteous Brothers

Rock vocal performance, male:

* "Bad Love," Eric Clapton

* "Blaze of Glory," Jon Bon Jovi

* "Cradle of Love," Billy Idol

* "Rockin' in the Free World," Neil Young

* "You Can Leave Your Hat On," Joe Cocker

Rock performance, duo or group:

* "Almost Hear You Sigh," Rolling Stones

* "Blue Sky Mining," Midnight Oil

* "Higher Ground," Red Hot Chili Peppers

* "Janie's Got a Gun," Aerosmith

* "Suicide Blonde," INXS

Hard rock performance:

* "Epic," Faith No More

* "Kickstart My Heart," Motley Crue

* "The Razors Edge," AC/DC

* "Ritual De Lo Habitual," Jane's Addiction

* "Time's Up," Living Colour

New artist:

* The Black Crowes

* Mariah Carey

* Kentucky Headhunters

* Lisa Stansfield

* Wilson Phillips

Rap solo performance:

* "All Hail the Queen," Queen Latifah

* "I Get the Job Done," Big Daddy Kane

* "Ice Ice Baby," Vanilla Ice

* "Monie in the Middle," Monie Love

* "U Can't Touch This," M.C. Hammer

R&B; vocal performance, male:

* "Here and Now," Luther Vandross

* "Johnny Gill," Johnny Gill

* "Misunderstanding," Al B. Sure!

* "Round and Round," Tevin Campbell

* "Whip Appeal," Babyface

Country vocal performance, male:

* "Friends in Low Places," Garth Brooks

* "Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart," Randy Travis

* "I'd Be Better Off (In a Pine Box)," Doug Stone

* "Turn It on, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose," Dwight Yoakam

* "When I Call Your Name," Vince Gill

Country performance, duo or group:

* "Fast Movin' Train," Restless Heart

* "Ghost in This House," Shenandoah

* "Jukebox in My Mind," Alabama

* "Love Can Build a Bridge," The Judds

* "Pickin' on Nashville," Kentucky Headhunters

Jazz vocal performance, male:

* "Astoria: Portrait of the Artist," Tony Bennett

* "Big Boss Band," George Benson

* "Freddie Freeloader," Jon Hendricks

* "Scrapple From the Apple" (track from "The Many Faces of Bird"), Bobby McFerrin

* "We Are in Love," Harry Connick Jr.

Latin pop performance:

* "Autobiografia," Duncan Dhu

* "Por Que Te Tengo Que Olvidar?" (Track from "Nina"), Jose Feliciano

* "Quien Como Tu," Ana Gabriel

* "Se Me Enamora El Alma" (Track from "Se Me Enamora El Alma"), Isabel Pantoja

* "20 Anos," Luis Miguel

Musical cast show album (award to album producers and to lyricists and composers of more than 50 percent of new score):

* "Anything Goes," John Frazer, album producer

* "Black and Blue," Hugh Fordin, album producer

* "City of Angels," Cy Coleman and Mike Bernicker, album producers, Cy Coleman, composer, David Zippel, lyrics

* "Gypsy," John McClure, producer

* "Les Miserables, the Complete Symphonic Recording," David Caddick, producer

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