Though the 60th Annual Grammy Awards was awash in politically charged statements and powerful performances, the most controversial comment may have come after the show.
Women need to “step up” if they want to win more Grammys, Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow said when asked about the fact that there was only one female winner – best new artist Alessia Cara – shown winning an award Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
“I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls – who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on an executive level – to step up, because I think they would be welcome,” Portnow said, answering a question from a female reporter. “I don’t have personal experience with the kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it’s really a combination of us in the industry making a welcome mat very obvious: creating mentorships, creating opportunities, not only for women, but for all people, and paying it forward, creating that next generation of artists who feel like they can do anything and say anything.”
The #GrammySoMale movement had already started last week after a new study on the Grammy Awards showed that in the past 5 years 90.7 percent of the nominees were male. The study by Stacy L. Smith, Marc Choueiti and Kate Pieper of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative also surveyed the gender and racial breakdown of the performers, writers and producers of Billboard’s top 100 songs and found that in 2017, only 16.8 percent of the artists were women.
Variety reported that Lorde, the only female artist nominated for album of the year, declined to perform on the show after she was not offered the chance to perform by herself, an opportunity given to the male nominees.
Portnow didn’t comment on that report, but he addressed the issue by saying, “We have a wealth of riches every year, and it’s hard to have a balanced show and have everybody involved. … We can’t have a performance from every nominee – we have over 80 categories – so we have to realize that we have to create something that has balance.”
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