GRAMMY President Denies Award Show Race Issue, Cites Chance The Rapper
Wed, 15 Feb 2017 09:33:58
Recording Academy president Neil Portnow has opened up to Pitchfork about perceived issues of racism in the choices for GRAMMY Award winners. The award show once again came under fire on Sunday, after Adele's 25 defeated Beyoncé's Lemonade for Album of the Year — even Adele explained that Beyonce deserved the award. This is the third straight year that the GRAMMYs have been called out for choosing a white artist over a black artist. Last year, Taylor Swift beat out Kendrick Lamar, and the year before Beck won over Beyonce.
In an interview with Pitchfork, Portnow explained, "I don't think there's a race problem at all. We don't, as musicians, in my humble opinion, listen to music based on gender or race or ethnicity. When you go to vote on a piece of music — at least the way that I approach it — is you almost put a blindfold on and you listen. It's a matter of what you react to and what in your mind as a professional really rises to the highest level of excellence in any given year. And that is going to be very subjective. That's what we ask our members to do, even in the ballots. We ask that they not pay attention to sales and marketing and popularity and charts. You have to listen to the music. So of the 14,000 voters, they listen, they make up their minds, and then they vote.
"Now here's the other interesting part of the process, and we stand 100 percent behind the process: It's a democratic vote by majority. So somebody could either receive or not receive a Grammy based on one vote. It could be that tight."
Award shows in general have been under fire for race related issues in recent years. Portnow was later asked about Chance the Rapper's win for Best New Artist, to which he responded, "To your earlier question about a racial problem. The album, record, song and best new artist categories are ones that the entire voting membership is entitled to vote on. You don't get Chance the Rapper as the Best New Artist of the year if you have a membership that isn't diverse and isn't open-minded and isn't really listening to the music, and not really considering other elements beyond how great the music is."
—The ARTISTdirect Staff