Last Week’s Award Ceremonies Show the World That Musicians Aren’t Going to Stay Silent

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Several of the biggest Latin music stars opted to reject their invitations to this year’s Latin Grammy award ceremony as an act of protest, including Daddy Yankee, Natti Natasha, and J Balvin. The protest was taken up by these wildly popular and global musicians as a reaction to a collective sense of being undervalued or overlooked by the members of the Latin Grammys who ultimately determine which artists will be honored for their work and contributions to music history.

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Frente a los Latin Grammy

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Balvin has been vocal about his disappointment with the Grammys ever since the nominations were first announced back in September. Rolling Stone recalled his critique that the Grammys would use reggaeton artists for ratings without paying equal respect to the genre, something that played out in the complete absence of reggaeton in any of the major award categories. Needless to say, Balvin declined the opportunity to perform at the award ceremony.

Bad Bunny, who did attend and perform the final number at the award show, also acknowledged that reggaeton hasn’t been taken seriously by the voting members of the Grammys. “There are people who [must] accept that reggaeton is a genre that has been going for more than two decades,” he said in a press conference after receiving the award for Best Urban Album. “Whether you like it or not … we are [the ones] representing Latinos worldwide.” This discrepancy in accolades versus airtime is a reflection of the generational gap between the decision makers and the millions of fans around the world who stream these artists like crazy.

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EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Chilean singer Mon Laferte, exposes her chest with writings reading “In Chile they torture, rape and kill”, as she arrives at the 20th Annual Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 14, 2019. (Photo by Bridget BENNETT / AFP) / ALTERNATE CROP (Photo by BRIDGET BENNETT/AFP via Getty Images)

Prior to winning Best Alternative Album at the Latin Grammys, Chilean musician Mon Laferte waged her own protest, painting an urgent political statement across her bare chest that she revealed to the world while strolling down the red carpet: En Chile torturan violan y matan. Her message engaged directly with the brutal upheaval taking place in her country, where over two dozen people have died and thousands have been injured at the hands of law enforcement through torture, violence, and sexual abuse over the past month. President Sebastian Pinera recently ceded to protestors’ demands for lasting change, suggesting that he would allow the constitution to be rewritten some time next year in order to address the vast income inequality that has fueled the unrest in Chile.

The Latin Grammys weren’t the only venue for artists’ protests last week. The previous evening at the Country Music Awards, musician Jennifer Nettles wore a Christian Siriano design that featured a pointed statement that was painted onto her outfit’s train: Play our f*@#in records please and thank you. The back of her jacket called for “equal play” between male and female country musicians. She told Rolling Stone that streaming music algorithms have a build-in bias against new female artists, which she insisted is the reason that men and women don’t get equal air time. “I hate it when people say that they turn the channel when they hear a woman. No they dont, they turn the channel when they dont hear something they recognize,” she said. “And they dont recognize women because they dont play women. The fans dont know: they just want to hear music. But women arent getting to hear their own stories.”