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Recording Academy President Responds to Grammy Diversity Questions: 'I Don't Think There's a Race Problem'

Recording Academy President Responds to Grammy Diversity Questions: 'I Don't Think There's a Race Problem'

Artists including Solange Knowles and Frank Ocean have recently spoken out about the Grammys and race, and now, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow is answering questions in a new interview.

A black artist has not won Album of the Year since Herbie Hancock in 2008. At the ceremony on Sunday, Adele won the award for 25 over Beyonce‘s Lemonade.

“I don’t think there’s a race problem at all,” Neil told Pitchfork. “Remember, this is a peer-voted award. So when we say the Grammys, it’s not a corporate entity—it’s the 14,000 members of the Academy. They have to qualify in order to be members, which means they have to have recorded and released music, and so they are sort of the experts and the highest level of professionals in the industry. It’s always hard to create objectivity out of something that’s inherently subjective, which is what art and music is about,” Neil said.

Click inside to read more of his answer about race and the Grammys…

“We do the best we can. We have 84 categories where we recognize all kinds of music, from across all spectrums. We don’t, as musicians, in my humble opinion, listen to music based on gender or race or ethnicity. 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.”

On if the Grammys have a problem like the #OscarsSoWhite: “Well, they may have had a problem. We don’t have that kind of an issue in that same fashion. But we are always working on increase diversity in membership, whether it’s ethnicity, gender, genre, or age. In order to maintain our relevance, we have to be refreshing all the time and we have to be doing that across the board…And also, looking for more participation. I think maybe we’ve just seen this in the last national election to some degree. Sometimes people are perhaps disappointed at the results and then when asked, “Hey did you participate in this election?,” the answer is no. And then, it’s after the fact, not much you can do if you haven’t been a part of it. So to anybody that is unhappy with the results or even feels that there could be a stronger representation of any genre or ethnic group, bottom line is very simple. Just become members, join and vote. Then you have the say if you want it.”

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Posted to: 2017 Grammys, Grammys

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