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Native music outgrows GRAMMY categories

LOS ANGELES - From performances by Justin Timberlake to the Dixie Chicks, this year's 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards showcased artists that dominated the radio airwaves and, of course, bestowed golden statues to a lucky few.

Yet the glitz and glam of the Feb. 11 star-studded affair began well before that evening. Most of the awards were doled out at the pre-telecast show starting in the early afternoon.

Unlike the multiple categories for rhythm and blues, rap and rock genres, the Recording Academy bestows one GRAMMY to a Native artist/group under the Best Native American Music Album category.

This year, flutist Mary Youngblood won the category for her album ''Dance With The Wind.'' Other Native nominees included Black Eagle for ''Voice of the Drum,'' Robert Tree Cody and Will Clipman for ''Heart Of The Wind,'' Jana for ''American Indian Story'' and Northern Cree and Friends for ''Long Winter Nights.''

Youngblood said one category for the Native genre isn't enough and that it encourages the Euro-American ''conquer and divide'' mentality.

''The one category makes it too competitive,'' she said. ''We have so much music and it's growing, changing and morphing.''

Youngblood said that traditional, rap, blues and contemporary should be added to the list.

The Best Native American Music Album category was added in 2001 for winners in 2000. Producers Tom Bee and Douglas Spotted Eagle of Sound of America Records picked up a GRAMMY in 2001 for the Gathering of Nations Powwow album.

In addition to GRAMMY winners, there are the honored nominees who miss out on post-show press conferences. Jana seized her red-carpet moment, smiling for the seemingly endless line of TV cameras and photographers and talking with reporters.

Singer and songwriter Chris Isaak, reporting for ''The Tonight Show,'' asked her for a sampling of one of her songs. So, while standing on the red carpet, she sang ''Amazing Grace'' in Lumbee.

''As a new artist, you have to put your face out there,'' she said. ''I can get used to this. It was really nice.''

Jana said that all of the nominees received a gold medallion, made by the prestigious jeweler Tiffany and Co., at a pre-GRAMMY party. ''They treated us very well and made it special,'' she said.

Like Youngblood, Jana said would like to see more Native categories added to the list. ''It's about changing perceptions about how people think,'' she said. ''Native music is not just flute, drums and pow wows.''

Regardless of the politics, all the nominees are a lucky chosen few.

The Recording Academy receives more than 15,000 nominations from July through September, and has to narrow the field down to five nominees for each of the 108 categories.

Producers, talent representatives, journalists and an assortment of music professionals spend two days pouring over the entries. Once the list of nominees is complete, it's sent out to the academy's 11,000 members for them to cast their votes.