This Grammys boss has denied that the awards have "a race problem"
Following Sunday night’s Grammy Awards (February 12th), the awards show boss Neil Portnow has denied the Grammys have a “race problem.”
This year’s Grammys were already in hot water before the award show had even taken place. This was due, in part, to Frank Ocean penning a Tumblr letter to the Academy body where he accused them of racial favoritism, in particular Taylor Swift’s winning of Album of the Year for 1989 over Kendrick Lamar in 2016, and Beck’s win over Beyoncé’s self-titled album in 2015. Fuel was only added to this fire after Beyoncé was snubbed again for AotY at this year’s awards, with the winner, Adele, even apologizing for winning said award.
What’s more, Beyoncé’s sister, Solange Knowles, later shared Frank Ocean’s essay, making her opinions about her sister not winning the award clear (she has since deleted the tweets).
Now following accusations of racial bias, Grammy boss and President of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, has denied that the awards have a “race problem.”
In an interview with Pitchfork, Portnow was quizzed about whether the awards show was too white.
“I don’t think there’s a race problem at all. Remember, this is a peer-voted award. So when we say the Grammys, it’s not a corporate entity—it’s the 14,000 members of the Academy. They have to qualify in order to be members, which means they have to have recorded and released music, and so they are sort of the experts and the highest level of professionals in the industry,” Portnow said, defending the awards.
“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. We have 84 categories where we recognize all kinds of music, from across all spectrums.”
Continuing, he went on to say that, in his opinion, as musicians people don’t “listen to music based on gender or race or ethnicity.”
Pitchfork also asked Portnow how he felt about the Motion Picture Academy working on increasing the diversity of its members, something he denied that the Recording Academy had. “[W]e are always working on increase diversity in membership, whether it’s ethnicity, gender, genre, or age,” he said. “In order to maintain our relevance, we have to be refreshing all the time and we have to be doing that across the board.”
Similarly, Portnow spoke about Frank Ocean’s decision to omit his music for submission for the Grammys.
In defending the Recording Academy, Portnow said that without diversity on the panel then acts like Chance the Rapper, who has put all his music out for free and isn’t signed to a major label, wouldn’t have picked up awards like Best New Artist.
Just before the Grammys, Frank Ocean accused the Recording Academy of “cultural bias and general nerve damage.“
For a full list of the 2017 Grammy Winners click here.