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Recording Academy President Responds to #GrammysSoMale by Saying ‘Women Need to Step Up’

Alessia Cara was the only woman to accept a Grammy during the live telecast on CBS.

Bruno Mars poses in the press room with his awards for best R&B album, record of the year, album of the year, best engineered album, non-classical, for "24K Magic," and song of the year, best R&B performance and best R&B song, for "That's What I Like" at the 60th annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden, in New York60th Annual Grammy Awards - Press Room, New York, USA - 28 Jan 2018

Bruno Mars


The Academy Awards is hardly the only awards show failing to represent the industry’s efforts for inclusion. The 60th Grammy Awards are facing backlash after awarding predominantly male artists with trophies. During the live broadcast on CBS, only one woman took the stage to accept an award: Alessia Cara for Best New Artist. All other winners were men, including Ed Sheeran, who drew outrage online after winning the best pop-solo performance award over four women.

Variety spoke with Recording Academy president Neil Portnow following the ceremony, but his comments on why women were mostly shut out of the Grammys this year are only drawing more backlash. Portnow said it’s up to the women to “step up” and it’s up to the industry to make the “welcome mat” very obvious to them.

“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,” Portnow said. “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.”

Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich was asked by Variety about why Lorde was not included as one of the show’s live performances. Lorde was nominated for the most prestigious Grammy of the night, Album of the Year, but was mysteriously absent from the broadcast’s live set list.

“It’s not for me to talk about,” Ehlrich said. “I produce the TV show. I don’t know if it was a mistake. These shows are a matter of choices. We have a box and it gets full. She had a great album. There’s no way we can really deal with everybody.”

Women have often faced an uphill battle at the Grammy Awards. A USC study that was published shortly before this year’s ceremony found that 90% of recent Grammy nominees were men. The 60th Grammy Awards were dominated by Bruno Mars, who won Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year.

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