Recording Academy boss Neil Portnow is now saying he shouldn't have said what he said but also that it was taken out of context

By James Hibberd
January 30, 2018 at 11:08 AM EST
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The president and CEO of the organization that runs the Grammys is kinda-sorta apologizing for saying female artists need to “step up” if they want to win more awards (or, for that matter, get more than an average of 9 percent of Grammy nominations).

Recording Academy boss Neil Portnow on Tuesday walked it back with a statement to Variety, confirmed by EW, that basically says he was taken out of context:

“Sunday night, I was asked a question about the lack of female artist representation in certain categories of this year’s Grammy Awards. Regrettably, I used two words, ‘step up,’ that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make.

Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced. We must actively work to eliminate these barriers and encourage women to live their dreams and express their passion and creativity through music. We must welcome, mentor, and empower them. Our community will be richer for it.

I regret that I wasn’t as articulate as I should have been in conveying this thought. I remain committed to doing everything I can to make our music community a better, safer, and more representative place for everyone.”

Here’s Portnow’s original comment so you can judge for yourself: “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. 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.”

Some artists, such as Pink, did not take this well, writing on social media: “Women in music don’t need to ‘step up’ — women have been stepping since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside. Women OWNED music this year. They’ve been KILLING IT. And every year before this. When we celebrate and honor the talent and accomplishments of women, and how much women STEP UP every year, 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, and what it looks like to be fair.”

Ahead of the Sunday’s show, presenter Janelle Monaé tweeted a statistic from a USC study: “A total of 90.7% of nominees between 2013 and 2018 were male, meaning just 9.3% were women.”

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