Grammy Awards Goof Again in New Age

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Every year, the Recording Academy has at least one WTF moment and this year it’s again in the New Age category.  Last year Jack DeJohnette inexplicably won for Peace Time, which in a post-Grammy blog I called “a generic New Age album that would’ve been cliched 30 years ago”  and likened it to Yusef Lateef for getting the New Age Grammy in 1987 for his hackneyed Little Symphony and Jethro Tull winning the Heavy Metal Grammy in 1988 for Crest of a Knave.

But all those artists had names and were brilliant in their fields, jazz and rock respectively.  But who the hell is Henta?  You don’t know? Someone must.  She’s one of 5 nominees in the New Age category, but I’ve never heard of her.  It’s not so unusual that an artist slips by me sometimes.   I’m not all-knowing, even in my field.   But it is unusual when that artist can muster enough votes in a Grammy category to make the final five.  She sits alongside established names like Jim Brickman, Peter Kater and Dominic Miller,  new age icon, Kitaro, and easily the best album in the group and one of the best CDs of the year, Prayer for Compassion by David Darling an Echoes CD of the Month in March.  As a Ricky Gervais character might say, “Are you having a laugh?”

Henta’s nominated CD, Laserium for the Soul, is a slice of generic, hard core new age with ethereal vocals and overladen synthesizer pads.  How such a derivative, run-of-the-mill  work from an artist with no apparent profile makes the 5 New Age nominees is beyond me.  Perusing her website, it’s clear that she’s a working musician with previous recordings, sound library work and more, but it’s nothing that most people, Grammy voters or not,  would know about.  It’s not like New Age doesn’t have enough of a credibility problem.

Overall, this is one of the weakest years for Echoes artists at the Grammys.  You can usually find them in the fringe categories but few are found in 2009s selection.

Congratulations to these Echoes Artists for making the cut.

Prayer For Compassion In New Age our pick goes to:
* Prayer For Compassion
David Darling
[Wind Over The Earth]

But other worthy albums are:
In A Dream
Peter Kater, Dominic Miller
[Point Of Light Records]

Impressions Of The West Lake
[Domo Records]

Bela Fleck got a couple of Grammy nods:
In Best Classical Crossover Album our pick is:
* The Melody Of Rhythm
Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain & Edgar Meyer
[E1 Music]

And in Best Contemporary World Music Album

* Throw Down Your Heart: Tales From The Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3 — Africa Sessions
Béla Fleck

Echoes favorite Yo-Yo Ma is also nominated in that category.
Yo-Yo Ma & Friends: Songs Of Joy And Peace
[Sony Classical]

In Best Native American Music Album my nod goes to:

Riders Of The Healing Road
Johnny Whitehorse (A.K.A. Robert Mirabal)
[Silver Wave Records]

Best Traditional World Music Album was slim for actual Echoes albums, but we’ve played music by these artists:

Ancient Sounds
Rahim Alhaj And Amjad Ali Khan
[UR Music]

Douga Mansa
Mamadou Diabate
[World Village]

That’s it for Echoes at the Grammys.  We’ll have a special show around the telecast of the Awards ceremony next year.

Sometimes Grammy voters don’t have a clue, but you can have your say by voting in the Top 25 Echoes CDs of 2009 Poll.  It’s open now.
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John Diliberto ((( echoes )))


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10 Responses to “Grammy Awards Goof Again in New Age”

  1. Robert Winchester Says:

    If “Laserium for the Soul” turns up in a “best album artwork of 2009” list, we’ll know the deck was stacked from the beginning.

  2. Marcell Marias Says:

    Hello John and Robert,

    A “New Age” has dawned in the world of music, where hard-working, independent musicians who have not yet made it onto a label can release a beautiful work with proper intent to share with the public. The changing tide of the traditional record labels and the upheaval of the music business in general has birthed artists like Henta who truly have a desire to use music and sound for the benefit of humanity and work hard to put it out there.

    You may not have the palette for this “derivative work” but the intent behind it was pure and clear.

    I am wondering if you at all listened to the entirety of the album which is how it was intended to be heard. It takes you on a journey through specific frequencies and harmonies and introduces Henta’s unique voice as a tool.

    Granted that Henta has “no apparent profile”, but how can you belittle the work and slam Henta personally just because you have never heard of her? Voting Grammy members who actually liked the work put her in the position of being one out of the 5 nominated, and we are truly grateful for them.

    As for the artwork, Robert, people have such different aesthetic tastes that surely there will be ones who don’t like Henta’s cover for “Laserium for the Soul”, (having not really seen the beautiful printing, colors, and eco-friendly packaging on the CD in person) but how does your apparent dislike for our hard work “stack the decks”?

    We respect John’s profile as an NPR show host, but would also ask for some respect for Henta.


    Marcell Marias

  3. Krysta Gibson Says:

    I love Henta’s album. It is pure heart and soul. The fact that you haven’t heard of her says more about you than it does about her. I publish a little podunk spiritual newspaper and I know about her! I am sure if she got nominated some people did feel her work is a valuable addition to this genre of music. I know I do!
    Krysta Gibson

  4. Rhonda Says:

    Those who can, create albums. Those who can’t, critique them.

  5. John Marchant Says:

    ‘scuse me. everyone knows who George Bernard Shaw is and what he said, but I have never heard of John Diliberto. This I can live with.

  6. Simone Shannon Says:

    Perhaps a NEW AGE of respect is due? There’s something very off-putting about being cold, snarky and dismissive of an artist who is sincerely sharing her (dare I say it?) positive vibrations to her listeners. Certainly, we all have our tastes and opinions, but what message exactly are you trying to communicate? That.. you hadn’t heard of her, so therefore, her work is not valid? Or that now that you’ve heard her music, and have decided it’s not worthy, you’re justified in being mean? Seriously. “Who the hell is Henta?” A “WTF moment”? If you’re trying to change up New Age musics “credibility problem”.. I don’t think you’re taking it in the right direction. This attitude is rampant in other genres, and not needed here. She has put a lot of time, energy and heart into her work, and her goal, I believe, is one of unity and beauty. Surely, that, at the very least, should be honored.

    • echoesblog Says:

      The message I’m trying to communicate is that mediocre, derivative and saccharine music, no matter how sincere, should not be served up as the best in a genre, unless you want that genre to be considered mediocre, derivative and saccharine, which New Age usually is by anyone outside the inner field. That said, the best example of New Age music, a record that transcends the genre, won this year with David Darling’s soulful, immaculate and original Prayer for Compassion. Darling is an artist who puts a lot of energy and heart in to his work and strives for unity and beauty. The difference, is, his music matches his intent.

      • Simone Shannon Says:

        There is no one truth regarding perception of artistic merit. Your version of mediocrity, is someone else’s version of inspiring. Your idea of “soulful and immaculate” could likely be my idea of insipid and tired. None of this really matters.

        There were enough people who felt that Henta’s music was worthy. It was presented as one of the best in this genre, because of that. Your opinion differs. But it’s just an opinion, and no more or less important or valid than those who find her work beautiful. To you.. her message doesn’t match her intent. To others, it does. The problem is in disrespecting someone because you don’t like their music. It’s just unkind. Not my vision of what the New Age scene is about… but, I guess that’s up to one’s opinion as well. 😉

  7. Marcell Marias Says:

    So Echosblog, if you think that Henta’s music is mediocre, derivative and saccharine, why did she make it into the top 5 as a Grammy-Nominee? How can you say that all of the good supportive people who voted for Henta have taste for music that’s mediocre, derivative and saccharine? I guess you are actually dismissing and deriding all those voters or perhaps, back to the initial post I made above, maybe it’s that Henta’s music just doesn’t agree with that holier-than-thou, ultra-refined, forked tongue of yours.

  8. Henta Says:

    I would like to thank everyone who put their time and energy into this blog.

    I feel truly blessed to have been nominated this year, especially as I am an independent artist, striving to help people through my own style of sonic nurturing. It has been an amazing and magical experience for not only me but also the people closest to me and new friends I have met along the way. I am extremely grateful to all the Grammy members who took time to listen to my music and decided to vote for me because there was something about it that resonated with them. What artist could possibly ask for more.

    I totally agree with your praise of David Darling’s winning album. I adore his music and had the honour of sitting next to him at the Grammy’s and sharing part of the excitement of the occasion with him and his daughter and that is what I consider to be one of the highlights of this whole experience.

    So there have been plenty of highlights and a few lowlights, which do come from hurtful comments which deeply sadden and affect me, however I am looking back on this experience as a really positive one, as it has affected way more people in a positive way, than just me, so that’s why it has all been so wonderfully worthwhile.


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