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President of Grammys Says Women “Need To Step Up”

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The Recording Academy dealt with backlash from the lack of female winners at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. During the live broadcast, Alessia Cara accepted her award for Best New Artist. Aside from Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar, who won Best Rap/Sung Performance for their song “Loyalty,” Alessia Cara was the only woman who accepted an award.

Lorde was the only nominee for Album of the Year who was not asked to do a solo performance (She was, however, asked to perform with other artists for the Tom Petty tribute). Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, and Bruno Mars performed solo; and Jay-Z declined an offer to perform. Mostly women were nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album, but both awards went to Ed Sheeran. In total, 11 out of 84 awards went to women; out of 899 nominees for the past six years, only 9% of them were women.

For 12 hours after the awards, the hashtag #GrammysSoMale trended on Twitter. In a post-interview with Variety, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow was asked about the hashtag, saying “it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls… who want to be part of the industry on the executive level.” [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. I think it’s up to us–us as an industry– to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people… and creating the next generation of artists.”

Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich was also asked by Variety if not having Lorde perform was a mistake. “I don’t know,” he said. “We have a box and it gets full. She had a great album. There’s no way we can really deal with everybody.”

Again, these comments created controversy, leading artists to respond on Twitter. Singer Halsey said “Neil’s comment was absurd. Female artists came HARD in 2017.” Tegan and Sara said, “at least the music industry is consistent across North America in putting the blame on women for not being nominated.” Pink wrote in a handwritten post, “Women don’t need to ‘step up.’ Women have been stepping up since the beginning of time.” She continued, “Women OWNED music this year. They’ve been KILLING IT. And every year before this,” she continued. “When we celebrate and honor the talent and accomplishments of women, and how much they step up every year, against all odds, we show the next generation of women and girls and boys and men what it means to be equal, and what it looks like to be fair.”

Neil Portnow has since stated that he regrets his comments.

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President of Grammys Says Women “Need To Step Up”