As a lifelong New Yorker and a big fan of music, various genres, I was pleased that the Grammy Awards 2018 show took place in New York City. No, I did not attend (but would love to sometime in the future) so as usual, I watched much of the show on television with members of my family.The Grammys is the awards show I enjoy watching the most, because I am familiar with much of the music and many of the artists; the Academy Awards holds much less interest for me because I am so picky about films (and in 2017 I did not see a single film in the theaters). Other awards shows such as the Golden Globes and the Country Music Awards are only of marginal interest to me; the Grammys is the one to watch, in my house anyway.

I heard someone describe the Grammys as "music, dance and political stance," which is a good encapsulation of the event. And I did enjoy much of the hoopla and spectacle. Now I know how to pronounce R&B singer SZA's name ("sizza") and now I know who Childish Gambino is (I'd heard his song before). But in this essay I would like to discuss the Jewish presence at this year's Grammys-- which was subtle, to say the least.

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A few musicians with Jewish roots won Grammy awards. The most obvious was the late singer Leonard Cohen, who won Best Rock Album for "You Want it Darker." This of course made lots of people groan because... Leonard Cohen, rock and roller? Usually he has been deemed more of a folk singer, and while this was a very good album (I heard a few of the songs and had liked them) it did seem like this honor was given more as a nod to a remarkable dead person, than for a full-on rock 'n roll experience. So be it.

The late Carrie Fisher, who was Jewish on her father's side, won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album, for "The Princess Diarist." This is one of those more obscure Grammy awards, not given during the actual televised show but earlier in the day. Another lesser-known Grammy was given to singer-songwriter Randy Newman, for Best Arrangement; Newman, best known for his pop song "Short People," is Jewish, and alive.

The youngest Jewish performer to win a Grammy this year, and one who has publicly identified himself with Jewish life, is actor-singer Ben Platt. He won as a cast member for Best Musical Theater Album, given to the soundtrack for "Dear Evan Hansen." And he was part of one of the more interesting as well as subtly Jewish segments of the Grammy show.

As part of a centennial tribute to the late composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein, Ben Platt sang "Somewhere," a somber number from the famed musical "West Side Story," one of Bernstein's best-known works. It was a stirring performance. Platt, it should be noted, attended the Jewish sleep away camp Camp Ramah and sang in the color war productions. It was a wise choice to have him sing the emotionally charged song whose music was penned by a Jewish man who among other things, conducted concerts in Israel (even pre-statehood Israel), wrote Jewish choral music and was involved in other musical projects of Jewish interest and subjects.

A few more thoughts: the Grammys have categories for Gospel music and for Christian music, but none for Jewish music. There were no overtly Jewish projects up for Grammys this year. Should we be overly concerned? 
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