Heeding annual criticism that reggae's finest releases are oftentimes overlooked as nominees in the Grammy's best reggae album category, Cristy Barber, VP of marketing and promotions at New York-based reggae label VP Records, is spearheading a drive to educate her industry about the role of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Barber, a 2005 Grammy nominated producer for the various artists compilation "Def Jamaica" (Island/Def Jam) and the former president of the Marley family's Tuff Gong/Ghetto Youths labels, will commence an informational media campaign in Jamaica, Jan. 21-25, where she will meet with key industry personnel.

Her efforts will also extend beyond the island's shores as she aims to recruit at least 100 Recording Academy members from the global reggae industry who will be eligible to vote for the 2011 nominations.

A sole Recording Academy member in Jamaica, reggae's birthplace and its creative epicenter, underscores the current lack of understanding of the Grammy nomination process there. However, a longstanding stipulation that ballots must be returned to the Los Angeles Academy headquarters within two weeks of their postmark, an impossible time frame for round trip mail delivery to the Caribbean, has further discouraged interest in Academy membership within the island's music fraternity.

Barber alongside the Academy's Alan Foster, project manager urban music/awards and Ann "Annika" Frank, project manager member services - national membership, have worked for years to circumvent that requirement. Beginning with the 2011 nominations, Jamaica's Recording Academy members can vote online via PDF ballots. According to Bill Freimuth, VP, awards, the Recording Academy, voting in all Grammy categories will likely make the transition to online ballots over the next few years.

Barber is confident her efforts will improve the odds for worthy artists to receive nominations, while highlighting the finest within a genre that struggles for widespread critical and popular acclaim in the post-Marley era. "Winning a reggae Grammy," observes Barber, "offers a level of recognition that impacts sales, radio play and concert demands, essential elements in establishing a new generation of reggae stars. I wouldn't be doing the genre, the artists or Jamaica justice if I didn't embark on this campaign."

Established in 1985, the best Reggae album category is identified with, but by no means limited to, albums released by Jamaican artists.

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