Recording Academy President: Female Artists Need to ‘Step Up’ After Grammys Disappointment
The President of the Recording Academy came under widespread criticism for remarks he made after the 2018 Grammy Awards, appearing to suggest that a lack of effort on the part of women is why the Grammys slant so heavily toward male artists.
Despite a broadcast that was packed with female empowerment moments and messages about the #TimesUp movement, Alessia Cara was the only female artist to take home a solo win in a major televised Grammy category on Sunday night (Jan. 28) when she won Best New Artist. When Variety asked Recording Academy President Neil Portnow about the resulting criticism and hashtag #GrammysSoMale, he placed the burden on females in the industry.
"It has to begin with … women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level," Portnow maintains. "[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it’s upon us — us as an industry — to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists."
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Lisa Loeb, Aimee Mann and Carrie Fisher were among the women who won Grammys in categories in the pre-televised portion of the Grammys Sunday, along with Reba McEntire, who gave an emotional speech after winning the non-country category of Best Roots Gospel Album for Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. She was also among the artists who supported the Time's Up movement by wearing a white rose to the ceremony.
Chris Stapleton — who won in all three categories he was nominated in, including Best Country Album, Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance — tells Variety, "Equality is something we have to address on a lot of levels. I can’t really speak to how voters voted and what happened there, but there is a lot of great music being made by a lot of great women. That is the only thing I know and the awards don’t diminish the art in any way."
Portnow walked back his remarks to Variety after his comments caused an uproar online. His new statement to Variety from Tuesday morning (Jan. 30) appears in its entirety below:
Sunday night, I was asked a question about the lack of female artist representation in certain categories of this year’s Grammy Awards. Regrettably, I used two words, ‘step up,’ that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make.
Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced. We must actively work to eliminate these barriers and encourage women to live their dreams and express their passion and creativity through music. We must welcome, mentor, and empower them. Our community will be richer for it.
I regret that I wasn’t as articulate as I should have been in conveying this thought. I remain committed to doing everything I can to make our music community a better, safer, and more representative place for everyone.
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