Racial Diversity in Music Hits Decline

Beck, Grammys

Racial Diversity in Music Hits Decline

Black artists are disappearing from the Grammys, and the Billboard charts.

Published February 12, 2015

Popular music is whiter than it’s been in more than three decades, according to diversity data compiled by Vocativ.com. The site found that the Billboard Hot 100 and the Grammy Awards reflect the reported whiteout in music.

With the Grammys, for example, Black artists receive less nods in major categories: Record of the Year, Best Album, Song of the Year and Best New Artist. 


At this year’s ceremony, British soul singer Sam Smith swept most of the major slots, including Best New Artist. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis took home the trophy in 2014, preceded by alternative group Fun. the year before and Bon Iver in 2012. Although jazz musician Esperanza Spalding broke the white streak in 2011, over the last 15 years, only four of the Best New Artists winners have not been white. 

The Billboard charts are similarly lacking in diversity. 2013 was the first year that a Black artist didn’t top the Hot 100 since the chart was created. In 2014, the Hot 100 was about as diverse as it was in the late ‘60s, with Black artists making up less than 25 percent of the chart.

Based on the current Hot 100, 2015 won’t be much better. Rihanna is the only Black artist in the Top 10 for the week, and there are only a handful of non-white acts in the Top 20. 

The current No. 1 single on Billboard is the funk and R&B-inspired “Uptown Funk,” by English producer/musician Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars

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(Photo: Kevin Winter/WireImage)

Written by Latifah Muhammad


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