Grammys president responds to controversy after telling women to ‘step up’

Neil Portnow has been slammed.

The head of the Grammys has responded after he was criticised for telling  women to “step up” following a ceremony that saw all but one major award being dished out to women.

Speaking after the ceremony on Sunday, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said: “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.”

But his comments proved particularly divisive on a night that saw Alessia Cara becoming the only female winner for Best New Artist – despite a strong concentration of female nominees.


“Neil Portnow you are tone-deaf AF. Ladies, I say step DOWN and don’t show up next year. See how the show runs without us”, US radio host Kat Corbett wrote on Twitter.

“Neil Portnow, the best records of the past year were by women…Phoebe Bridgers, Bedouine, Molly Burch, Aldous Harding. Perhaps if your org didn’t only listen to records by the same handful of artists, more women could be nominated. YOU need to step up…& stop saying dumb stuff”, another said.

Portnow has now directly responded to the latest criticism, admitting that he “wasn’t as articulate” as he had intended to be in expressing his initial point.

“Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced”, he told Variety in a statement.


“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.”

Meanwhile, many stars gave dedications to the ‘Time’s Up’ and #MeToo movements. A large number of guests to wear white roses as a mark of support for victims of sexual harassment and assault.

Janelle Monae also made a powerful speech against sexual abuse as she introduced Kesha‘s performance of ‘Praying’ at the awards ceremony.

The Grammys took place in New York last night, and were largely dominated by Bruno Mars who scooped all six prizes that he was nominated for –  including Best Album, Best Song, Record Of The Year and Best R&B song.

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