Artist News Awards

Grammys boss says women need to “step up”, following criticism of awards gender balance

By | Published on Monday 29 January 2018

Grammy Awards

Of the many controversies surrounding last night’s Grammy Awards, there was particular focus on the lack of women celebrated during the show. Grammys boss Neil Portnow definitely helped by saying that women just needed to try harder.

Performers on the night skewed male, while only one woman was actually presented with an award during the televised ceremony – Alessia Cara for Best New Artist – there being so many categories at the Grammys that only a selection actually feature in the broadcast. There was also criticism that the only woman nominated for Best Album – Lorde – was not offered the opportunity to perform solo, while her male counterparts were.

Speaking to Variety, Portnow said: “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. [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome”.

In recent years, many women – particularly those in behind the scenes roles like producers and engineers – have spoken about the barriers they face in working their way up the music industry. Portnow admitted: “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”.

So, hey, that doesn’t deal with the issue of the Grammys at all. Nor does it acknowledge that there is already a generation of female artists making music that should be getting acknowledged by America’s big awards bash. So you can add that to your cut-out-and-keep collection of quotes in which Neil Portnow denies that the Grammys have any sort of diversity problem at all.

Despite this, the ceremony was in fact filled with politically charged moments – acknowledging the #MeToo movement and the horror that is Donald Trump’s presidency.

One of the big moments of the night was Kesha’s performance of her song ‘Praying’. The musician made a significant comeback last year, following years locked in various legal battles with producer Dr Luke, who she accuses of rape. Introducing the performance, Janelle Monáe said: “Just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not do us well”.

Many women also walked up the red carpet carrying white roses in honour of survivors of sexual assault. This was co-ordinated by a group set up by Roc Nation’s Meg Harkins and Interscope’s Karen Rait.

In a statement, Voices In Entertainment said: “As we are inspired by the #TimesUp campaign [at the Golden Globes], we are encouraging the artists that we work with and our colleagues attending the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in New York City to wear a white rose to the ceremony. We choose the white rose because historically it stands for hope, peace, sympathy and resistance”.

Elsewhere, Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid performed their song ‘1-800-273-8255’ – its title the phone number for the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. As they closed the ceremony, they were joined on stage by a large group of people who have survived suicide attempts and loved ones of others who haven’t.

Logic also used his time on stage to proclaim, “To all the beautiful countries… you are not shitholes”, in reference to recent comments made by President Trump. He was not the only artist to do so. However, the most overtly political moment of the ceremony was a video in which Hilary Clinton (as well as Cardi B, John Legend, DJ Khaled, Cher, and Snoop Dogg) was shown reading aloud from the recently published, and pretty damning, book on Trump’s first year in office, ‘Fire And Fury’.

Anyway, I’d tell you now who the winners all were, but the Grammys has way too many categories. Also, Bruno Mars took all three of the main prizes, which is just nonsense. You can make your way through the full list here.

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