According to Recording Academy president, Neil Portnow, race doesn’t seem to be an issue in the Grammys voting process.
The Academy received a lot of heat after Sunday’s award show, during which Adele beat out Beyoncé for the Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year. The Grammys have long been criticized for favoring white artists, but in an interview with Pitchfork, Portnow responded to the criticism and claimed race isn’t a factor in the voting body.
“No, I don’t think there’s a race problem at all,” he said. “Remember, this is a peer-voted award, it’s not a corporate entity – it’s the 14,000 members of the Academy… It’s always hard to create objectivity out of something that’s inherently subjective, which is what art and music is about. We do the best we can.”
Portnow also said that Grammy voters don’t “listen to music based on gender or race or ethnicity.”
“When you go to vote on a piece of music—at least the way that I approach it—is you almost put a blindfold on and you listen,” he said. “It’s a matter of what you react to and what in your mind as a professional really rises to the highest level of excellence in any given year. And that is going to be very subjective. That’s what we ask our members to do, even in the ballots. We ask that they not pay attention to sales and marketing and popularity and charts. You have to listen to the music. So of the 14,000 voters, they listen, they make up their minds, and then they vote.”
When Adele accepted her trophy for Album of the Year, honoring her 2015 album 25, she dedicated the statue to Beyoncé, who was nominated for Lemonade. “My artist of my life is Beyoncé and this album to me, the Lemonade album, was just so monumental, Beyoncé,” said Adele. “It was so monumental and so well thought out and so beautiful and soul-baring and we all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let us see, and we appreciate that. And all us artists here adore you. You are our light!”