Mark Levine returns his Grammy nominations


In a bold, but sincere and honest move, Pianist, Educator and Author Mark Levine decides to return his Grammy nominations to NARAS and LARAS, and distances himself from such organizations. Here is his letter to Mr. Neil Portnow.

July 20, 2011

Neil Portnow, President
National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences
3030 Olympic Blvd
Santa Monica CA 90404

Dear President Portnow,

I am returning my 2003 Grammy Nomination medal and plaque to NARAS, and my 2010 Latin Grammy Nomination parchment to LARAS. I’m also refusing your offer of a Life Membership. I no longer want to be associated with your organization.

Your actions in delisting the categories that have most contributed to American music have been racist, and go against everything my parents taught me about America.

To quote Frank Sinatra at the original Grammies awards ceremony in 1959: “Remember ladies and gentlemen, it’s about excellence, not popularity.”


Mark Levine



  1. A loud thunderous applause to Mark Levine and the stand he has taken. I am neither Latino or a musician but a life lover of Latin music from Cuba, the Caribbean, South America to, of course the streets of New York, my home town. Growing up I have seen and danced to the music of all the legendary artists, most of whom are deceased. I’m 66 and retired and with my free time I have joined a friend and now co host a Classic Salsa and Latin Jazz show in Baltimore three and a half hours every Tuesday evening. I backed Izzy Sanabria, one of my oldest friends, on his request in getting NARAS to reinstate the Latin Jazz category.

    Latin Jazz and Latin music in general should be at the top of the listings and not treated as some after thought. Its real music. Not some electronically produced sounds. It takes artists with talent to produce the musical diversity delivered by this genre. A debt we lovers of Latin music owe to Louie Ramirez, Larry Harlow, Mario Bauzá, Chano Pozo, Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Jose Curbelo, Eddie Palmieri and dozens of others who kept the music new, fresh and captivating over the past six decades.

    Shame on NARAS for their actions. Latin Jazz stands head and shoulders over many of the other categories they have elected to keep. Keep up the good fight; we’ll win.

    Gary Elter
    co-host of Fiesta Musical over WEAA 88.9 FM Baltimore


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here