Female Musicians Call Out Recording Academy

Ellie Goulding + 7 Other Female Musicians Who’ve Called Out the Recording Academy

The Grammy Awards, which took place back in January, have sparked lots of criticism from both viewers and female musicians/industry veterans. Many have argued that there was not enough female representation among the nominees and winners. In fact, the only female to win an award during the televised ceremony was Alessia Cara for Best New Artist.

Many artists who attended the ceremony wore white roses to show their support for the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, both of which have shone a light on female empowerment and bravery. So, when viewers realized that there were few female winners at this year’s Grammys, many fled to Twitter to show their disappointment by using the hashtag #GrammysSoMale. When this began to trend, the Recording Academy President and Chief Executive Officer Neil Portnow issued a statement saying, “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.”

Many female musicians immediately retaliated and called out Portnow and the Recording Academy. Some demanded his resignation, some demanded the award show return to its former male/female categories, and some demanded the Recording Academy to reconsider how its voting works.

Vanessa Carlton even shared a petition ordering Portnow to resign, which has over 31,000 signatures to date.

Aside from musicians, other industry veterans are upset with the Recording Academy. According to Billboard, Artist Group International’s Marsha Vlasic, MAC Presents’ Marcie Allen, Friends At Work’s Ty Stiklorius, and more than a dozen others issued a letter to Portnow stating “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.”

In response to all of this, Portnow issued an apology stating  “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.”

Despire Portnow’s comment, Ellie Goulding subtly called him out at this year’s BRIT Awards, which took place on February 21st. While presenting the award for Best International Female solo artist, Goulding held onto a white rose and explained how proud she is to be a woman. She said “It’s so amazing to see so many women tonight wearing the rose. We’re very proud to be women. And actually, I think we can all agree that we’ve been stepping up for years.”


Would Portnow have apologized if he wasn’t called out all over social media by musicians and music industry executives? We’re not so sure. Regardless, we hope this is a wake up call for the Recording Academy and its voting members to consider more female winners and make sure these awards are televised for everyone to see.

Featured image: Instagram (@elliegoulding)

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