Carlos Santana, a 10-time Grammy winner, led a charge of outrage at the decision, saying "I think they're racist. Period."
Under the new system, material from all these categories would not necessarily compete for the Regional Roots Music Album Grammy--submitted albums would compete for nominations, with no requirement that any from a genre be nominated at all. This selection process was not kind to Native artists for the 2012 Grammy Awards: Nominated were three Cajun/Zydeco albums, one polka album, one Hawaiian album, and zero Native American albums. The award was won by the New Orleans-based Rebirth Brass Band.
The 2013 nominees were announced yesterday, and Native artists stand a better shot at winning a trophy this time around. This year, the Regional Roots category features one album from the Native American genre, and two of Hawaiian music.
Radmilla Cody's album Shi Keyah: Songs for the People, made with her uncle Herman Cody and released on the Canyon Records label, received a nomination. Cody is a former Miss Navajo Nation (1997-98) whose life has been haunted by controversy; first, over her racial identity (she has an African American father, though she grew up on the Navajo Nation speaking the Navajo language) and then over her involvement in drug trafficking (she wired money to a boyfriend, a dealer, knowing that it would be used to buy drugs). For the latter, she ended up serving 21 months in jail.