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Minnesota-based Okee Dokee Brothers, others turn down Grammy nods for lack of racial, gender diversity

This year the Grammy nominees for Best Children’s Album are all white, and all but one are male.
Alex Trebek interviews Okee Dokee Brothers

MINNEAPOLIS — Three bands, including the Minneapolis-based Okee Dokee Brothers, have turned down Grammy Award nominations in protest of an all-white, mostly-male slate of nominees. 

Of the five 2021 Grammy nominees for Best Children’s Album, all are white and all but one are male. The Okee Dokee Brothers, along with Alastair Moock and Dog on Fleas, wrote a public letter to the Recording Academy declining their nominations and asking to be removed from the final round ballot. 

"All five acts were disappointed with the whiteness and maleness of the results, especially after this year of racial and gender reckoning in our country," the Okee Dokee Brothers posted on Facebook. 

This year's lack of diversity in the Best Children's Album nominees is not an exception from the norm. The band says in the past 10 years, only about 6% of nominated acts have been Black led or co-led. Around 30% have been female-led. 

"These numbers would be disappointing in any category, but - in a genre whose performers are uniquely tasked with modeling fairness, kindness, and inclusion; in a country where more than half of all children are non-white; and after a year of national reckoning around race and gender - the numbers are unacceptable," the three bands wrote in their public letter to the Recording Academy. 

Earlier this year the Recording Academy announced some major changes meant "to ensure the Grammy Awards are inclusive and reflect the current state of the music industry,” CEO Harvey Mason said.

As part of the changes the Recording Academy dropped the word "urban" from several category names and required nomination review committee members to sign conflict of interest disclosures.

The bands wrote that after those changes, they hoped to see a different outcome when this year's nominees were announced. 

"We didn’t, and the results are frankly an embarrassment for the field of children’s music," they wrote. 

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