The 61st annual Grammy Awards were held on Sunday night at the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles.
In the aftermath, artists and fans are either celebrating great triumph, or lamenting disappointing loss. But one thing that's often overlooked in the midst of all the hype excitement, is the role of the Recording Academy's mysterious voting process.
Carmen Rizzo, an official voting member, says it can be challenging.
Rizzo is many things. A Grammy nominated producer, an artist, a technologist, and a well-rounded creative who serves as a governor with the Recording Academy.
"Somebody had suggested that I become a governor so they nominated me," said Rizzo.
"I became a governor and then I realized there was some unanswered questions of you know, how do people vote, are the right people voting, things like this, and that’s when my journey sort of began, as a governor and as a trustee."
Rizzo says there’s two main phases to the voting process after entries have been submitted.
First, a submission is reviewed by the general members of the Recording Academy. Then, after it is reduced down to the main nominees in each category, the official voting members make their final selections from there.
While Rizzo appreciates the opportunity to contribute to such a meaningful moment in music, he says it's a layered experience.
"It's a blessing and a curse because, for myself, I thought that’s great I have the power to vote, but I felt unfortunately, not most of the people really thought that way, and I think that was the beginning of the end of the old way," he said.
The old way Rizzo is referring to is when voting members did not have to prove as much current relevance to the music industry. But just recently, things have begun to change. Credit requirements have increased, ensuring that voters are more currently involved in today’s evolving music industry. And Rizzo himself understands many angles of the business.
"I was always a musician, engineer, and then a producer, but what I found was my passion for music from all over the world. I was very fortunate to make records early in my career in Europe and other countries, and I had some pretty good success."
That success includes working with artists ranging from Alanis Morisette to Michael Jackson, giving him an eclectic ear as a voter.
"You really have to put your emotions, and maybe even sometimes your taste aside and say, 'What do you feel of these five, represent this category the best?'"" Rizzo noted.
With decades of musical achievements, Rizzo enjoys empowering the next generation of creators with advice that worked for him.
"Being fearless in a very humble way is very powerful. I’ve always said to my kids, you know, you often have to move sideways to go forward."
And forward he continues to go, as both a Grammy voter, and international music creator.