Music execs, fans ‘stepping up’ calls for Grammy leader’s resignation

More than a dozen music industry executives and thousands of music fans are calling for Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow to step down following his widely criticized comments about women needing to “step up” at this year’s male-dominated Grammy Awards gala.

“The statement you made this week about women in music needing to ‘step up’ was spectacularly wrong and insulting and, at its core, oblivious to the vast body of work created by and with women. Your attempt to backpedal only emphasizes your refusal to recognize us and our achievements,” reads an open letter signed by more than a dozen executives from various sectors of the industry. 

“Your most recent remarks do not constitute recognition of women’s achievements, but rather a call for men to take action to ‘welcome’ women. We do not await your welcome into the fraternity. We do not have to sing louder, jump higher or be nicer to prove ourselves,” the letter continues, citing statistics about the poor representation of women in the music industry.

 “Today we are stepping up and stepping in to demand your resignation.” 

Separately, an online petition — circulated by many, including Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton — calling for Portnow’s resignation has surpassed its original goal of 10,000 signatures. As of Friday morning, the number of supporters was closing in on 14,000.

Portnow said Thursday he now understands the pain that his “poor choice of words” after Sunday’s Grammy Awards has caused, adding that while his comments aren’t indicative of his beliefs, they do reflect real women’s experiences in the industry.

The academy chief’s press-room remarks in response to a question about low numbers of female Grammy nominees and winners have been criticized by several prominent musicians, including Sheryl Crow, Katy Perry, India.Arie and Pink.

Also on Thursday, Portnow said the Recording Academy will creating a task force to uncover unconscious biases and other barriers that impede women’s success in the music industry.

The academy would put itself “under a microscope and tackle whatever truths are revealed,” he promised.

“I appreciate that the issue of gender bias needs to be addressed in our industry, and share in the urgency to attack it head on.”


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