COMMENTARY : Grammys Drop the Female Rock Category for Lack of Nominees

The female rockers are missing.

That's the situation in this year's Grammys, which have dropped the Female Rock Vocal category for the first time because of a shortage of entries.

According to the Grammy rules, 10 artists are needed to field a category. Since only eight female rockers were entered in this year's awards process, the National Aacdemy of Recording Arts and Sciences combined the male and female competitions. Only Tina Turner made the combined finals.

One reason for the shortage is that several prominent female rockers--Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks, Rickie Lee Jones and Cyndi Lauper, among them--didn't release new albums last year. Of course, there are a lot of other female rockers, but many of them front groups, which puts them in the rock duo/group category.

Carla Olson, leader of the Textones, termed the distinction between female soloists and female-led groups meaningless. "I think it's a bit silly that you have to be a solo artist," she said.

The Female Rock category has always been among the slimmest in number of entries. The Grammy screening committee has occasionally stretched the definition of rock to the breaking point to find 10 candidates: Nominees over the years have included Pia Zadora, Lulu, Melba Moore and Tanya Tucker.

Industry figures expressed disappointment that the category was dropped. Lindsay Scott, vice president of Roger Davies Management--which handles Turner--said, "I was surprised they couldn't come up with 10, especially when you consider what they've snuck in there in previous years just to pad it out.

"It's a pretty sad state of affairs that the industry doesn't have enough female rock singers to support the category."

Christine Farnon, NARAS' national executive director, emphasized that the category will be reinstated if there are enough entries next year.

"We didn't drop it so much as we put it on the shelf for a year," she said, adding that the jazz duo/group vocal category was deleted for the same reason.

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