Recording Academy president Neil Portnow issued a statement where he walked back on his suggestion that women “step up,” when asked why this year’s Grammy Awards was yet another male-dominated affair.
“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.
Portnow originally told Variety that he suggested that “women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls … step up,” before the industry make “the welcome mat very obvious.” In short: The burden fell on women first, as opposed to the industry that oppresses artists like Kesha to this day.
Surely Portnow must have seen the backlash since then. “Women OWNED music this year,” Pink, a featured performer, wrote in a handwritten letter posted to Twitter. “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, 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.”