The Recording Academy are changing the name of their “best world music” album category to “best global music” album, to avoid “connotations of colonialism” ahead of the 2021 Grammy awards.
In a statement, the Recording Academy said the change came “as we continue to embrace a truly global mind set … Over the summer we held discussions with artists, ethnomusicologists, and linguists from around the world who determined that there was an opportunity to update the best world music album category toward a more relevant, modern, and inclusive term … The change symbolises a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk, and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied while adapting to current listening trends and cultural evolution among the diverse communities it may represent.”
The term “world music” was originally coined in the UK in 1987 to help market music from non-western artists. The Grammys created the best world music album category in 1992, with winners since including Ravi Shankar, Gilberto Gil and three-time recipient Angélique Kidjo.
The Grammys’ change is the latest in a number of alterations to the music industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony. In June, the Recording Academy announced best urban contemporary album would be renamed best progressive R&B album, as the term “urban” is increasingly seen as inappropriate descriptor of Black music.
Academy chairman Harvey Mason acknowledged “some uncomfortable feelings” around the term in the academy. Tyler, the Creator, who won best rap album at the 2020 Grammy awards, said: “I don’t like that ‘urban’ word. It’s just a politically correct way to say the N-word to me”, while Republic Records, home to Ariana Grande, the Weeknd and others, has stopped using the term.
The academy does, however, continue to use the word “urban” in the context of Latin awards, including the newly created best Latin pop or urban album award.
Nominations for the 2021 Grammys will be announced on 24 November.