Best of The Beat 2012 and Mississippi Music Museums

By the time our Weekly Beat goes to press, the winners of the 2012  Best of The Beat awards will have been nominated by the music community, and voted on by fans, music lovers, and the music community itself. Winners will be announced on January 18 at our annual Best of the Beat Awards and Party.

Now on to the party on January 18 at Generations Hall!

On Wednesday night I went to an event in the third-floor performance hall at the Old Mint for NARAS (National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences). This is the non-profit organization that presents the GRAMMY Awards every year, creates MusiCares, and puts on a myriad of educational events and showcases every year. The Memphis Chapter of NARAS had its board meeting in New Orleans, and also sponsored a showcase last evening. It was a great opportunity to network with people in the business from all over the state and from Memphis.

For years, there was a push to recruit members from Louisiana into the organization’s Memphis Chapter. NARAS is responsible for the GRAMMY awards that are nationally recognized as the most prestigious in the national music industry. Only NARAS members can vote for GRAMMY nominees and award-winners.  The thought process was, if more Louisiana music industry people joined, the higher the chance that Louisiana musicians would have the opportunity to receive votes, and thus win an award. Years of lobbying created a GRAMMY category for Cajun-Zydeco music, which only lasted two years. After that, the Academy trimmed back the number of categories and eliminated the hard-won CZ category (just like that!), creating a catch-all category called American Roots, whose nominees this year contain everything from Bonnie Raitt to Hawaiian music to zydeco and everything in between. Last year, Rebirth Brass Band took home a GRAMMY in this category. Ironically, a zydeco and a Cajun recording are nominated this year (Nothin’ But The Best – Corey Ledet with Anthony Dopsie, Dwayne Dopsie and André Thierry; and The Band Courtbouillon – Wayne Toups, Steve Riley & Wilson Savoy). By the way, both albums were in the running for a Best of The Beat Award this year.

$1-million from the state of Mississippi to help fund a GRAMMY museum in Cleveland, MS. (Photo: Mississippi Business Journal)

Did you know that there’s going to be a GRAMMY Museum in Cleveland, Mississippi? Yep. Do you know where Cleveland, Mississippi is? Me either. But the GRAMMY organization is working with the state of Mississippi to establish a world-class interactive music museum there. The state of Mississippi has also put up $1-million towards the effort.

Mississippi is much more together when it comes to promoting and enhancing its musical heritage than Louisiana. It is a pity that we can’t see the forest for the political trees to establish a music museum in Orleans. If Mississippi can do it, and attract an organization like NARAS, why can’t we?