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Grammys announce 3 new categories will be added to 2024's awards show

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Amid a ratings slump, the biggest legacy awards show in music is going even bigger by adding new categories. NPR's Neda Ulaby reports.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: The Grammys have been experimenting with adding categories and changing the rules. Last year, it added five - including video game soundtracks and spoken word poetry albums. This year's new categories are best pop dance recording, best alternative jazz album and best African music performance.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FREE MIND")

TEMS: (Vocalizing).

ULABY: Music critic Walton Muyumba is also a professor at Indiana University. He says the Grammys are obviously trying to stay relevant and trading on the popularity of such stars as the Nigerian-born Burna Boy, who could headline a U.S. stadium, and the singer Tems, who has been ruling airplay charts.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FREE MIND")

TEMS: (Singing) Yeah, yeah, my mind. Yeah, yeah, my mind.

ULABY: But Muyumba has a question about the Grammys' new categories.

WALTON MUYUMBA: So what are you going to do with Angelique Kidjo?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIGNITY")

ANGELIQUE KIDJO: (Singing) Were you dey (ph) yesterday when the gunman shoot men down?

ULABY: Kidjo is a Beninese French singer, a New Yorker on the Grammy board of trustees who's won multiple Grammys for music that defies categorization.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIGNITY")

KIDJO: (Singing in non-English language).

MUYUMBA: 'Cause it's not exactly jazz or dance or world music. It may, in fact, be all of that stuff. I'm also thinking about an artist like Pierre Kwenders - Pierre Kwenders, who comes to Montreal, I believe, from Congo Kinshasa. He can sing in English, in Lingala, in French.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PAPA WEMBA")

PIERRE KWENDERS: (Singing in non-English language).

MUYUMBA: Is Kwenders world music? Is he African music? Is he North American music?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PAPA WEMBA")

KWENDERS: (Singing in non-English language).

MUYUMBA: Does it matter? I'm sure he would love a Grammy in whatever category.

ULABY: Many new Grammy categories seem to be about making up for overlooking certain kinds of music and musicians in the past, Muyumba says.

MUYUMBA: It's like if they keep making new categories, at some point they can catch everyone. But I'm not sure that that's going to work or not.

ULABY: There's something that feels a little algorithmic, he says, about creating specific Grammy categories for musicians who explode them. And you cannot help but notice there are categories now for Latin and African music, but everything else is just world. Muyumba says, after all, when you listen to music, you do not listen to a type of music. You just listen to something you love.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOVE ON UP")

KIDJO: (Singing) Just move on up and peace you'll find. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.