Numerous female musicians have criticised Grammy awards president Neil Portnow after he said that it was the responsibility of women to “step up” if they wanted to achieve success in the music industry.Facebook Twitter Pinterest Neil Portnow at last weekend’s 60th annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden, New York. Photograph: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
The Recording Academy boss was interviewed backstage at this year’s Grammys ceremony on 28 January – where only 17 out of 86 awards went to women or acts fronted by women – about the obstacles facing women in the industry. “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,” Portnow said, adding that the industry should create opportunities “not only for women but for all people who want to be creative”.
He also said technology was making it easier for people trying to start a career in the music industry: “If someone’s passionate about it, doesn’t matter what your gender, genre, geography – do it yourself, take it from your heart and put it out there.”
Pink, who performed at the awards and lost out in the pop solo performance category to Ed Sheeran, responded to Portnow by saying: “Women in music don’t need to ‘step up’. Women have been stepping up since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside ... When we celebrate and honour the talent and accomplishments of women, and how much women 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.”
P!nk (@Pink) January 29, 2018
Nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow wrote: “I wish the Grammys would return to female/male categories. Who will young girls be inspired by to pick up a guitar and rock, when most every category is filled with men? I’m not sure it is about women needing to ‘step up’, (as said by the male in charge).”
British pop singer Charli XCX was more blunt, writing on Twitter: “Ugh bout 2 step up on 2 ur face.. women are making amazing music right now. wtf is this dude talking about?” Rapper Iggy Azalea called Portnow’s words a “bullshit statement”.
As well as criticism over the number of awards given to women – only one of which was in the top televised categories – there was anger that the male album of the year nominees were offered solo performance slots, but Lorde wasn’t. She alluded to the controversy after the ceremony, tweeting her tour dates with the line: “If you’re debating whether or not I can murder a stage ... come see for urself.”
On January 30, Portnow issued a statement expressing regret for his remarks and his use of the term “step up”, and called upon the music industry to recognise and eliminate the barriers that women face. “We must welcome, mentor and empower them. Our community will be richer for it ... I remain committed to doing everything I can to make our music community a better, safer, and more representative place for everyone.Topics
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