Grammy Sham: Americana Artist Gets Nominated Through the Web

grammy-sham.jpg
The subtle front page of Chorney's website.
As if the Grammys didn't have enough credibility issues, NARAS, the organization that controls the process, has left a loophole large enough for a complete unknown to manipulate her way onto the final ballot in the Americana category.

The news broke two days ago in Variety that virtual unknown Linda Chorney had employed the organization's interactive Grammy 365 site to connect with voting members and get her music heard. Somehow she got enough members to vote for her to get her album Emotional Jukebox on the final ballot with Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, Ry Cooder, and Lucinda Williams, who have collected among themselves 23 Grammys.

On one hand, we have to applaud Chorney for her effort and determination and for her ability to work the system to her advantage. On the other hand, after hearing her music, we want to projectile vomit.

Problems abound with Chorney's nomination. For one, it knocked out much more deserving artists like Hayes Carll, whose KMAG YOYO and Other American Stories was one of the most played Americana albums of the year in terms of radio spins. Carll's song "Another Like You" was honored as the Number One song of the year by American Songwriter magazine. Chorney didn't make the top fifty. According to Sound Scan numbers, she hasn't moved a single copy of the album, yet she's on the ballot. Sorry, that ain't right.

And let's face it, a Grammy really may not mean all that much career-wise to Lady Gaga or Rihanna, but the award has huge meaning to the careers of artists like Carll, Jason Isbell, Brian Wright, Sarah Jarosz, the Gourds and others who have proved themselves by touring constantly and recording startlingly good albums that received almost universal critical acclaim. Chorney's wan, beyond-lame, easy-listening album sounds like the soundtrack to a bad Lifetime Channel drama, a verbal Hallmark card. Shelby Lynn, who also was not nominated, can eat Chorney for breakfast.

Others online have speculated that Chorney's inclusion is a ploy by the people who promote and televise the Grammy awards show to create controversy and drum up some additional audience after the ratings drop-off most awards shows have been experiencing. We love a good conspiracy theory as well as the next paranoid schizophrenic, but it seems unlikely they would want to create the controversy in a category that so few potential viewers care about. Let's face it, 99 percent of all people who listen to Americana don't watch these over-blown reality-show-like awards fiascos. Now if Chorney was in there duking it out with Bieber, someone might give a damn.

Still, the larger question is: who are these music experts and cultural tastemakers/gatekeepers whom Chorney was able to persuade that she belonged on the ballot? We'd like to think that the folks vetting the final ballot would have good enough ears to weed out albums like Chorney's without so much as a second thought. But long time music industry veteran Greg Ellis noted on Facebook that these are the same people who "voted for Taste of Honey over Tom Petty, Elvis Costello and the Cars."

As for Chorney's successful campaign to insinuate her tepid album into the finals, Ellis quipped, "Just because you can make a retard dance don't make it right."

We second Mr. Ellis's opinion. Linda Chorney, do the right thing: Withdraw your nomination now. Grammy idiots: How about next year you have a category called Non-Deserving Performer With Best Manipulation of the System?


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58 comments
grammy366
grammy366

As a voting member of the Music Academy - this article is outrageous. Trust me I and other voting member vote on what we hear. When you have 40-50  pieces of music or albums per category, and you listen through album after album of the same guitar/drum/banjo/harp on every song because they all use the same players to record and the same studios to mix, that when something sounds different it calls for attention. The Authors opinion is irrelevant. If the Author wants - he can go and compose music, do the leg work to get it published and then accepted into the academy, as a voting member, get voted into the board and finally have a say. Other than that - I get to vote, its my taste and if you have different taste, so be it, i am not you. The grammy is not a layman listening popularity contest. I am an accomplished (as in majorly accomplished) musician, and I do not listen to music the way you do, i hear other things. I judge things by the craftsmanship, uniqueness, innovativeness, the boldness of the artist to deliver his/her album. I suspect that if the author would attempt to make an album, it would end up sounding almost but quite entirely unlike something completely similar to stuff we heard before (thanks douglas adams), First write some music, then criticize the grammys

Marshall Moseley
Marshall Moseley

Complete sour grapes. She's been performing and touring for thirty years, and she followed the rules - which were changed to encourage just this kind of thing. To make it possible for non-label artists to be recognized. She did the tedious work of contacting and sending her music to 2,000 voting members. Those people *listened* to her music, liked it, and voted for her.

What's the problem? That the publicists and managers for the (very worthy) acts you discuss didn't do the work Linda Chorney did? Too bad. They're supposed to be professionals. How is it Ms. Chorney figured out what to do and they didn't? That she did not go through what you think is enough life-experience? That would mean you put your opinion above the voting members, who - you know - actually liked her music.

I think you need to face something: the middle-man is going away. Labels? Don't need 'em. Publicists and Managers? Don't need 'em. Recording studios? Don't need 'em.

It's a new world. One where a hard-working artists makes her own career. I think that's great.

candyee
candyee

Please be aware of these dating site scammers. I always see some dating site advertisement just like Seems saw Paris Hilton's profile on------millionairesocial. Com------, is she? One of my friends told me he saw Paris Hilton has a personal profile at an Millionaire Matchmaking site called------ 'Success'ful‘mingle.C^O^M- Many sexy photos were found on that site last week! I can't beleive it! What happened?

Greg Kleciak
Greg Kleciak

A guy writing on a blog is complaining about social media?

hdmi
hdmi

 Go on girl - Linda has found a way to get ahead - and I do not see the scam myself.

Tally EmUp
Tally EmUp

>"Just because you can make a retard dance don't make it right.">We second Mr. Ellis's opinion. 

Wow...  You second his opinion, do ya?  It didn't occur to you that maybe it was an inflammatory opinion?  Not even for a second?While the article was pertinent and interesting, and even got me a little upset that someone gamed the system, it pales in the face of your closing paragraphs.  I'll leave the site thinking about how insensitive you are and completely forget what you've written.

VongMee
VongMee

Man I never even thought about it liek that before.www.Total-Privacy dot US

unbelievable
unbelievable

On the Robert Earl Keen issue, this man is a legend in Texas has 16 albums under his belt REK's album is currently at #3 on Americana CHART13th week in Top 3, with 8 of those weeks being at #2, and has also topped the chart at #1 twice so far during this runHe has never won a Grammyyet the Road Goes On Forever is a household name.Stephen King (the writer) choose his album Ready for Confetti as oneof his top choices in Entertainment Weekly. This is who deserves to be on the ballot. Someone that has put blood, sweat and tearsin his career for over 20 years!!!

unbelievable
unbelievable

ROBERT EARL KEEN and Ready for Confetti should of been on the BALLOT 

Marlashane
Marlashane

Linda Chorney came to Austin a few years back and performed on the Threadgill's stage. She got a standing ovation - so I know who she is. This statement is what makes this article sound like whining: "Somehow she got enough members to vote for her to get her album Emotional Jukebox on the final ballot..." Somehow? Perhaps she paid them off? Gave them sexual favors? Or maybe, just maybe, her music did it for them. I know what "Americana" means in the fine art world - but as far as defining music, I bet she's not the first musician to look it up (but maybe the first to be honest about doing it). It appears the real focus of this article is more about who has been "popularized" enough to be nominated, rather than who has a message and can put that message to music. Linda Chorney does that as masterfully as the next nominee...too bad you feel manipulated by her instead of mesmerized.

Andrew Karnavas
Andrew Karnavas

Ha, love the closing of this one.

There doesn't seem to be any kind of Terms of Use Agreement for GRAMMY365.  If there is, no one is enforcing it.

She could actually win since the final voting process is the same - a paper ballot gets sent to GRAMMY voting members in the mail, and they get spammed on GRAMMY365 before voting.  Yikes.   

Wroyjon
Wroyjon

so that's her "sin" or crime, she hijacked the "americana" genre LOL

Nice guy
Nice guy

The reality is that journalists can write what they want.  They only thing I don't like about any of this is the hate.  The articles I have read by well respected journalists are honest, good bad or indifferent...but none of them have showed an ounce of hate.They have honestly  positioned their pieces as an interesting story, which it is.

Aren't we all a little to old to be bullying people?

Formica
Formica

From another article linked to the article her husb- oops! I mean, her "publicist" posted here:--------------------"I am Occupying the Grammys -- I am the 99%," she says. "I'm the middle-class that got a friggin' shot, and I got in there. And the irony of hearing that people are upset that the little nobody who hasn't sold a thousand copies of her little album managed to get in there -- somebody's upset about that? Really? You want to just take it all, and not share the wealth? It's so unbelievable."Tearfully, she adds, "I've been playing guitar for 41 years, and (working) in bars for 30. I haven't made it to that (big) scale -- not because I'm not good enough, but because nobody gave me the break. And Grammy 365 gave me the break."--------------------Never mind "a thousand copies" - didn't one of the articles say that in fact she hadn't charted the sale of ONE album? Good Lord, my old band sold a few thousand, and you didn't see us thinking we were owed a Grammy nomination and some of "the wealth"! LOL

(And likening Buddy Miller and Lucinda Williams to the 1% is my favorite laugh of the day. Yep, pretty Evil Empire, that. Next episode: we learn that Levon Helms is actually Hayes Carll's father. And Shelby Lynne is Hayes' sister..... Is mainstream Nashville the Death Star?)

And, the myth of The Big Break needs to die. The cream rises to the top - IF it sticks around long enough. Occasionally, this isn't true, and the treasures remain local secrets. Or maybe they just didn't have the drive to tour. Or were too dependent on substances to tour.

And occasionally non-cream also rises to the top. No, I won't sink so low as to say Ms. Whatsername's music is "scum"; I have no desire to listen to it (or remember her name). But sometimes that which is called "a break" is really the result of bj's.Or a record company's idea of how to make money off of pure crap.Or a crack in the system.

Ms. Whatsername exploited a crack in the system. Good for her.I think most of the commenters here are bothered more by the fact that more deserving artists didn't get the nod that a nomination gives.She now gets her 15 minutes.Enjoy it; it is fleeting.

But being known for a [in this case *very* minor] scandal, versus your music, is not really the way most musicians want to be remembered.Ask Rob Pilotus.

Billy Shears
Billy Shears

"...a 51 year-old singer/songwriter that has worked the road for 30 years..." and she had to look up Americana in Wikipedia? How dare she hijack that category for a Grammy nomination for a self-promotion scheme to get noticed where she doesn't belong or deserve. It irks me that her slot could have gone to a much more deserving artist (i.e. Sarah Jarosz) who lets her music speak for itself.

Cooder
Cooder

What a great business. Great article Mr. Smith. Love your candor as always. Makes me glad I'm not relying on the business for my business.

Jack Williams
Jack Williams

I've listened to the samples for this album over at CDBaby.  It seems like a decent enough album.  "Verbal Hallmark card" seems a bit over the top.  Shelby Lynne could indeed eat her for breakfast, though.

The biggest issue for me is that I don't see the music on the album having much of any appeal to those of us who are fans of Americana and roots music.  There's a reason why those metal fans got so upset when Jethro Tull took home the Grammy.

wms
wms

You face the facts: the music sucks.

wms
wms

the scam is the music sucks. the scam is she doesn't deserve to be on the ballot artistically.

JLM
JLM

Robert Earl Keen is  beyond a legend in just Texas, let's set that straight.  What does the Americana chart really mean????  Robert has been around before there was an Americana chart, sold bunches of records before there was an Americana chart so...that's not a strong case here Mr/Ms Unbelievable.  And who is throwing him into this mix and why??   What does this story about Linda Chorney have to do with Robert Earl Keen??????  Is it her fault he didn't get nominated???? Is it Lost Highway's fault that they (Universal) didn't know how to work the system and couldn't get all the UMG voters to make sure he got on the ballot?  Is it anyone's fault????  Damn, I have never met an artist in my 30 years of working on the other side who has cried because they didn't get nominated or win for that matter.  People make music to be heard, and as Scott Borchetta said it best, when one makes music for anything less than the love and fun of it, time to clean their glasses!!

REK FAN
REK FAN

I agree he should have been....but really, is anyone to blame for that.  REK is great and while I know he would love the Grammy, he has more love from hundreds of thousands of fans and that means more than anything......

Jack Williams
Jack Williams

She was virtually unknown to the Americana/Roots music fan community prior to this nomination.    The Americana/Roots music website nodepression.com is probably the most visible roots music website and is closing in on 20,000 members, I believe.   Do a search on Linda Chorney and you will get 0 hits prior to the Grammy announcement.  So, with over 8,000 blogs to date from the general community (nodepression.com blogs come from the community at large), no one ever made a mention of her.  Nothing in the No Depression (ND) archives either, which means she was never covered in the ND print magazine.  And we're supposed to trust that the Grammys were somehow able to discover this "great unknown Americana artist" who went completely (and I mean completely) unremarked upon by the ND community at large?  As a contrast to this, my favorite album of the year was from a fairly obscure artist named Austin Lucas.  I had him at the top of my top ten albums list when I voted for the ND albums of the year.  I'm not sure anybody else voted for him, as he really isn't very well known.  Still, do a search on him on the ND site and you'll get 60+ hits, including some in 2009.  And I never heard of him until this year.  And I would bet a sizable amount of money that if, by some miracle, he got a Grammy nominatios, there might be puzzlement in much of the roots music community at first, but folks would come around once they heard the music and would embrace his nomination and have newfound respect for the Grammys.  That's because I believe his music would resonate deeply with the ecommunity in a way that Linda Chorney's just does not.  In my opinion, of course.

Last year, I went on the vacation of my life, which was the Cayamo music cruise.  It's a singer/songwriter cruise that's heavy on roots artists, but not all artists are rootsy.  I think she might do pretty well on that cruise and I could see how I might really enjoy her set out by the pool.  Especially if she peppered her set with Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Stones covers, as she did on her album.  I doubt I would pick up her album, though. 

Sahm-Nambulist
Sahm-Nambulist

"Maybe her music did it for them." Then they shouldn't be voting on something they don't know jack about. Verbal Hallmark card. "Standing ovation." Believe it when I see it.

Formica
Formica

*Shudder*Thanks for ruining my day, AK.

Ms. Whatsername and her and her husband's SPAMming campaign will then be responsible for killing the last, teensy bit of credibility left of the Grammy's...not that most folks hold much admiration for them. But the nods of nomination are nice, and up 'til now, the Americana category was still respected.

Ms. Whatsername could then join the ranks of other illustrious Grammy winners in the past, like these wonderful past Songs of the Year:

"Wind Beneath My Wings," "That's What Friends Are For." "Sailing" (1980 song - you know: Christopher Cross), etc.SPAM: FTW.

Sahm-Nambulist
Sahm-Nambulist

"Journalists can write what they want." F'n ludicrous statement. The Twang Nation "writer" is a hired gun to schill for the Grammys. He knows where the bread is buttered. Come on, Jm.... You couldn't fool my five year old granddaughter with this stuff.

Formica
Formica

Mr. Publicist,

I believe people here hate the situation, and the unfairness of your client's obtaining a coveted kudos that very very very few people think she deserves.I seriously doubt anyone here hates her.

If people *love* music - with a deep, abiding passion - then there is an inevitable flip side.

Had Smith loved your client's music, you would have seen effusive praise, such as that he gives to some of those whom he listed above as [infinitely] more deserving.

Should your client develop her songwriting skills to the level of the more deserving folks above, you will see him, I am willing to bet, praise her to the hilt.So will everyone else here who's sounded off with distinct ire.

Jack Williams
Jack Williams

So you as her publicist think that referring to to the fans of the out of the mainstream music genre as close minded is  a good strategy.  More like pouring gasoline on the fire to me.  But what do I know?  I'm just a music fan.

Jack Williams
Jack Williams

Objective?  The last line of the article is "Yeah, you go, girl."  Does that sound objective to you? 

In fairness, that article isn't meant to be objective.  It's an opinion piece, but one from a music industry observer or maybe an "insider" who doesn't seem to have any real emotional stake in American roots music.  The article here is written by a passionate Americana music fan who's a little bit angry that a music artist who nobody in the roots music fan community has ever heard of and whose music isn't terribly rootsy has been nominated for the Americana Grammy, where someone like Hayes Carll, whose album KMAGG YOYO was highly acclaimed and was the most played Americana album of the year on the radio, is completely overlooked. 

Mark Rubin
Mark Rubin

Indeed, the culture is so devitalized that if you just throw enough money you'll find some dupe to pitch it. Frankly, the whole thing feels like a Punk'd episode, hard to believe any adult could find anything there worth paying attention to.

wms
wms

Hahaha, her publicist thinks this softball article is going to be picked up by Rolling Stone. Open minded.... bwahhhh that's really funny. The FACT REMAINS that as an artist, Chorney couldn't tune Shelby Lynne's guitar. There is not one single song on Emotional Jukebox that cries out to be listened to ever again.

I'm gonna continue to call b.s. on this deal. Note to Linda C and Scott F.: sell some records, get some serious critical reviews, then get back to us. This is going to be as big a joke as that Hung guy from Am Idol a few years ago who was so bad but got so much publicity and love that he got a label deal to make bad records. If that's what Chorney wants, very sad.

Jack Williams
Jack Williams

Thing is, it wouldn't have gone to Sarah Jarosz.  Or Eilen Jewell.  Or Zoe Muth.  Too obscure for the Grammys, unless they were to take a page from Ms. Chorney's playbook.  Unlikely 

I wonder if we're going to see more of this type of thing in the years ahead.  Last year, the Grammys eliminated over 30 categories, with the roots music field being most adversely affected.  One of those eliminated was contemporary folk (oxymoron?).   Seems to me that would have been a better fit for Ms. Chorney and I doubt her nomination in that category would have as great a negative reaction.

Sahm-Nambulist
Sahm-Nambulist

Jack: "Decent enough" isn't supposed to be enough to get you on the Grammy final ballot. As music fans, we should be looking for "memorable" not "decent enough" when it comes to Grammys and other awards. And you are right, it's hardly what people who listen to Americana think of as Americana. Just look at her explanation of why she went after the Americana category. Nuff said. And the list of women who can whack Chorney around like a musical pinata is staggering...

Wasnot
Wasnot

Actually the Grammy 365 BLOGGER IS not paid to the best of my knowledge...I don't think his Linda article appeared on his Grammy blog...the guy's a little dick 

mj
mj

I'm sure he would have and that's fair.  Not labeling intense negative reaction as hate, really truly....it was actually in print.  Everyone is totally entitled to their opinion, that is not in question. 

Jack Williams
Jack Williams

But then again, it's easier to label intense negative reaction as "hate."  That way, perhaps it can be dismissed out of hand.

wms
wms

this article is from the official blogger for the Recording Academy for the Americana/folk categories. It has about as much objectivity as your mom does about how well you sing. Shit... publicists are such ideeeits.....

wms
wms

Jack: Valid points, all. Still, Jarosz, Hayes Carll, and Jason Isbell in particular had STELLAR albums and are at least on labels and of a high enough profile to get in the game. Chorney, on the hand, has nothing to offer really except her "31 years on the road." And as someone noted, after 31 years still no one is buying her music. She can talk about playing the 7 contients, but we have a lively listening room scene here and I've never seen her name on a playbill in these parts. I think she's what Jerry Glanville used to call "a cardboard corner back."

Jack Williams
Jack Williams

No disagreement here.  I'm just saying it's not god awful, as the author seems to suggest.  I will not be rushing out to buy it, believe me.  That said, I think the Grammys have a disappointing record when it comes to roots music nominations.  If they didn't nominate her, they would have nominated someone with a high profile name.  Maybe John Hiatt, who I lovee and whose latest is quite good but I wouldn't say great.  I think the nomination of Levon Helm for Ramble at the Ryman was a rather uninspired choice.  I love Levon and I treasure Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt.  I bought the Ramble at the Ryman DVD and it's a great concert DVD.  But it's just a recording of a concert originally aired on PBS and one that has many guest artists.  I just don't think it should have been considered for album of the year.

I would be extremely and pleasantly surprised if the Grammys were to nominate an artist well known to Americana music fans, but unknown to the general populace.  People like Eilen Jewell or Sarah Jarosz.  Or even great artists not as well known in Americana circles like Rachel Brooke or my favorite of the year, Austin Lucas.  Hasn't happened yet.

wms
wms

My reaction to her music and her unbridled ambition in regard to gaming the system -- let's face it, she knows her album is a huge mediocrity -- is what I hate. I also tend to hate smarmy publicists who talk about "positioning" when they are representing an act that's been around 31 years and still hasn't caught on with any kind of public. Bah humbug. 

wms
wms

JM: If you're saying you're her publicist, have her get in touch. I ain't hard to reach. wmslocohombre49@yahoo.com

wms
wms

This whole managed episode is both hilarious and highly pathetic. I hope Ms. Chorney gets in touch, I'd love to interview her. Husband, manager, publicist, lawyer, who gives a shit? It ain't in the grooves. Period. I stand by verbal Hallmark card. And that her inclusion in the awards is a joke on all of us, a sad, sick joke. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Jack Williams
Jack Williams

There is this comment from a "Jm" on the Cohesion Arts article recommended by Mr.  Fadynich: "Good piece Paul..and she very well could wind win!!! "That you?

Jack Williams
Jack Williams

Well, we stand corrected.  It seems that Mr. Fadynich is her husband and manager.    And he's recommending an article with an "objective view?"   Priceless.

Jm
Jm

The publicist did not make any comments on this except this one :)

Jack Williams
Jack Williams

Oh, I know.  I have all three.  Dave Alvin had a great one as well.   And actually, I wouldn't even care is Chorney's album was a great one.  If it's not recognized much at all as roots music by roots music fans, then it's not a good nomination.  As an example, I love John Hiatt and he can get a little bluesy every once in a while, but I don't want him nominated in the Blues field.  He's not a Blues artist and has never made a straight up Blues album.  Gregg Allman, different story.

Sham-Nambulist
Sham-Nambulist

Agreed re. Levon. I can name ten Americana albums that I'd like to see nominated. I'd start with Here We Rest by Jason Isbell.

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