An issue arose when president Neil Portnow answered a question about the lack of female winners by saying women needed to “step up.” Some prominent musicians proposed Portnow step down for his “tone deaf” comment, as what many said. The Recording Academy, which produces the Grammy Awards, then came under fire.

21-time Grammy winner, Vince Gill, spoke to a New York crowd before a benefit concert honoring the Country Music Hall of Fame. He lightly addressed recent disapproval surrounding the lack of female representation at the Grammy Awards. Strongly he said,

“I look at it kind of trying to see the whole field, you know. And I think the Grammys will go on and the country artists will feel slighted. Or maybe the classical people will feel slighted. It’s impossible to pull something off like that and not leave a few people by the wayside.”

Gill didn’t mention those comments directly, but he offered his own take. His most remarkable comment was,

“We don’t care about genres, of color of skin, or gender, or anything. We just love playing music with great people and that’s all.”

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In A Much Broader View

The Recording Academy recently addressed the issue in two separate letters to members. In the first note, the Academy disproven an often cited case showing that women only comprised 9% of the Grammy nominees. They said, that study, only involved five categories over the past nine years. Though the full picture isn’t much promising, the Recording Academy says it’s not enough to reflect the community. They cried a reminder that we must be leaders in moving our industry toward greater inclusion and representation.

The second note to members addressed the call for Portnow to step down. While perceiving the Academy itself features many women in prominent roles, the note also said the organization must do their best to improve music diversity. The note states,

“Our Academy and our industry must do a better job honoring and demonstrating our commitment to cultural, gender and genre diversity, in all aspects of our work.”

It’s recognizing, that women and people of color are hands down more likely to be disheartened from even entering the industry and the Recording Academy in the first place. The Recording Academy does dynamic functions within the music community. Our hopes are up that they really add the effort of welcoming a more diverse body of industry professionals. When we say this, we are, of course, talking about all stages of career development.