Recording Academy president Neil Portnow is facing criticism for saying women need to “step up” if they want to win more Grammy awards.
Only one woman, Alessia Cara, won an award in a major category during Sunday’s Grammy Awards.
“I think 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, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on the executive level — to step up,” Portnow told Variety after the awards show ended.
“Because I think they would be welcome,” he continued. “I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face, but I think it’s really a combination. Us as an industry making the welcome mat very obvious, creating mentorships, creating opportunities not only for women but all people who want to be creative and really paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists who feel like they can do anything, they can say anything.”
#GrammysSoMale began to trend on Twitter following the awards show.
Once again, #EdSheeran wins over much stronger female contenders, so instead of #kesha's song about overcoming sexual abuse, we reward another song by a man about a woman's body. #GRAMMYs #metoo #timesup #grammyssomale
— Anya Silver (@AnyaSilverPoet) January 29, 2018
— Phil Buck (@Phil_Buck) January 28, 2018
— Lil shizzy (@SharonPhiri18) January 29, 2018
4 pop goddesses nominated and the award goes to the generic pop stylings of Ed Sheeran. #GrammysSoMale
— Peter Martino (@peteramartino) January 29, 2018
GAGA GOT ROBBED. KESHA GOT ROBBED. SZA GOT ROBBED. LORDE GOT ROBBED. ONLY ONE WOMAN WON IN THE MAJOR CATEGORIES — ALESSIA CARA.
— Dan (@theleonpaladin) January 29, 2018
Isn’t it great how the #GRAMMYs claims to be so current & relevant – black outfits.. Time’s Up badges.. white roses.. Kesha giving a moving performance with women on stage..
And yet Every single major award last night was won by a male artist? 🤔
— Karl Booton (@karlbooton) January 29, 2018
Canadian singer Alessia Cara took home the best new artist award and spent her time on the red carpet and backstage speaking in support of the Time’s Up movement, which was founded by Hollywood celebrities and executives earlier this month to combat sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace.
On Sunday night, dozens of artists, including Cara, wore the fashion accessory of the Grammy Awards: a single white rose, either pinned or conveniently left with a long stem for red carpet vamping.
The message is a serious one as the music industry looked to follow up the anti-sexual misconduct show of black dresses and suits at the Golden Globes. This time, stars were called on to grab a white rose in solidarity. Many did, both men and women, with some also wearing the Time’s Up pins that popped up at the Globes to support the new coalition of the same name in defence of women.
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Variety reported that Lorde was the only artist in the male-dominated album-of-the-year category to not be invited to perform solo, which Portnow neither confirmed or denied.
“We have a wealth of riches every year, and it’s hard to have a balanced show and have everybody involved,” Portnow said. “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.”
Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich was asked by another reporter whether it was “a mistake” to not invite Lorde to perform.
“I don’t know if it was a mistake,” Ehrlich said. “These shows are always a matter of choices, and we know we have a box and the box gets full. She had a great album, but there’s no way we can really deal with everybody. Overall, we did the best we can to make sure it’s representative of our show.”
Ahead of the awards show, presenter Janelle Monaé tweeted a statistic from a USC study: “A total of 90.7 per cent of nominees between 2013 and 2018 were male, meaning just 9.3 per cent were women. #TimesUp #Grammys.”
— Janelle Monáe, Cindi (@JanelleMonae) January 28, 2018
—With files from the Associated Press