For years, the Grammy Awards has faced criticism over what many say is an effort to prioritize non-Black artists over actually Black artists doing Black music.
Last night’s Grammys continued the discussion as singer and actress Jennifer Lopez lip synched a tribute to Motown in what became a very controversial moment in both Grammy and Motown history.
Fans were quick to point out that Motown should have looked for more soulful artists to render the tribute to the iconic label that was once the home of Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Rick James, The Temptations and many, many more legendary Black singers.
Love J. Lo, but for that #Motown tribute, she was an absolute NO.— Carolyn Ash (@AshConsultingGr) February 11, 2019
And once again, black people (esp. black women) are being erased from our own darn history. Ugh. Happy Black History Month.#InclusivityDoesntMeanErasure pic.twitter.com/I1shmU6KqU
Yes Puerto Ricans have contributed to multi faceted expressions of Black identities in America (#AfroLatinas ✊?) BUT… #MOTOWN is unapologetically #AfricanAmerican Just know it’s a major L for solidarity when we steal opportunities from the descendents of those who created them.— Hawa El Fayed (@pharaohhawa) February 11, 2019
In a since-deleted tweet, Motown defended its J. Lo choice.
Regardless of feelings and opinions about the grammys tribute performance, can we take a minute to celebrate the history and the power of Motown its artists and its music?
Motown was founded by Berry Gordy in 1959 and became the world’s most successful Black-owned record company soon afterward.
Gordy sold Motown in 1988 for $61 million.
Motown is now a subsidiary of Capitol Records.
Some Motown fans accused the label of helping the music industry replace Black American musicians with musicians such as Cardi B., Bruno Mars, and Canada-born Drake.
In related news, Cardi B. became the first female rapper to ever win a Grammy for best album for 2018’s Invasion Of Privacy.