- Traditional World Music Album: "In the Heart of the Moon," Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate.
- Contemporary World Music Album: "Eletracustico," Gilberto Gil.
- Latin Pop Album: "Escucha," Laura Pausini.
- Latin Rock/Alternative Album: "Fijacion Oral Volumen 1," Shakira.
- Traditional Tropical Latin Album: "Bebo De Cuba," Bebo Valdes.
- Salsa/Merengue Album: "Son Del Alma," Willy Chirino.
- Mexican/Mexican-American Album: "Mexico En La Piel," Luis Miguel.
- Tejano Album: "Chicanisimo," Little Joe Y La Familia.
- Native American Music Album: "Sacred Ground -- A Tribute to Mother Earth," Various Artists.
- Hawaiian Music Album: "Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar -- Vol. 1," Various Artists.
- Reggae Album: "Welcome to Jamrock," Damian Marley.
- Polka Album: "Shake, Rattle and Polka!" Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra.
Toure and Diabate? Makes sense. While it's not exactly adventurous, the album finds the great Malian guitarist and kora player doing what they do best - creating beautiful, intricate melodies. While I like Gilberto Gil, I haven't heard "Eletracustico," so I can't comment on it (though didn't it come out in 2004?). I have other ideas for best contemporary world music album, however (see SoundRoots' Top 10 Albums of 2005). And it doesn't take much imagination to list other great reggae albums (though they come without that persuasive Marley moniker...).
Finally, let's be honest: compilation albums should not be in the running. Plenty of Hawaiian and Native American artists/groups have released great albums, but the award's glory is diluted when it goes to a compilation, and makes it feel like a token to these "fringe" categories.