This year's Grammy Awards features Black and Brown children's musicians Last year, three of the five nominees in the Grammys' children's music category withdrew their names from consideration, outraged the list was all-white. But the slate is very different this year.

Last year's children's song Grammy nominees were all white—but that's changed in 2022

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Three of the five nominees in the Grammy Awards' children's music category withdrew their names last year. They were outraged that the list had only white musicians. The slate for this Sunday's Grammys is different. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: This year, all of the Grammys contenders for best children's music are musicians of color. That includes reggae artist Aaron Nigel Smith, whose album "All One Tribe" is a collection of songs by 26 Black musicians. Here he is with Shine & the Moon Beams, singing about marching for social justice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MARCH TOGETHER")

AARON NIGEL SMITH: (Singing) But don't give up. We're at the brink. Let our voices remain strong.

SHAWANA KEMP: (Singing) 'Cause perseverance is the key if we demand equality.

DEL BARCO: This is not the kind of children's song traditionally celebrated at the Grammys, nursery rhymes or so-called white-guy-with-a-guitar kids music. Smith says last year's all-white Grammys slate was out of touch.

SMITH: Was shocking to see there was no representation, especially during the year of Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, you know, and people standing up for human rights and justice. So we protested.

DEL BARCO: In 2020, Smith and several other nominees this year formed the coalition Family Music Forward to amplify Black voices in children's music. Last year, they challenged the Recording Academy to include more artists of color, and they urged voting members to consider more diverse music for families.

SMITH: Jazz and hip-hop and reggae and soul and funk and R&B.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LA PATINETA")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing in Spanish).

DEL BARCO: The Grammy-nominated bilingual album "Activate" features cumbia, Matangi, bossa nova and other Latin American rhythms and renowned singers such as Ruben Blades.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LA PATINETA")

RUBEN BLADES: (Singing in Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing in Spanish).

BLADES: (Singing in Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing in Spanish).

DEL BARCO: "Activate" is the first Grammy nomination for 123 Andres, Andres Salguero. He's from Bogota and sings with his wife, Christina Sanabria, from Kansas.

CHRISTINA SANABRIA: You know, children's music isn't even a genre, per se. It's an audience. More than half of the children in the U.S. are non-white.

DEL BARCO: Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band are also nominated for a Grammy. Their album "Crayon Kids" has a song about kids living through the coronavirus pandemic.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GENERATION C")

LUCKY DIAZ AND THE FAMILY JAM BAND: (Singing) There's a vaccine. What does even that mean? Zoom, Twitter, TikTok, tablets, phones around the clock.

DEL BARCO: Falguni Shah, a singer from India whose stage name is Falu, is nominated for her album "A Colorful World."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LULLABY FOR NISHAAD")

FALU: (Singing) Stars are rising. Crickets sing their song.

DEL BARCO: Nominee Pierce Freelon's Afro-futuristic futuristic "Black To The Future" includes the voices of his grandmother, his 11-year-old daughter Stella, and his mother, Nina Freelon, also nominated this year for a best jazz vocal album. Freelon also honors one of his heroes, actor and leading advocate LeVar Burton.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LEVAR BURTON")

PIERCE FREELON: (Singing) Roots kept us grounded in Black Thought. Now Kunta Kinte's free like LeVar. He was crowned King Kunta by Kendrick Lamar.

DEL BARCO: Freelon gives thanks to Alastair Moock and the groups Dog on Fleas and The Okee Dokee Brothers for turning down their nominations last year.

FREELON: As loud as we were yelling, it really took a radical act from these three white male allies to pry open the eyelids of their of their (laughter) peers.

DEL BARCO: Freelon says together, they're shifting the paradigm of children's music at the Grammys. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LEVAR BURTON")

FREELON: (Singing) I can teach you how to fly like an angel.

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