Recording Academy President On The Grammys: “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,” Neil Portnow said in a new interview.

February 14, 2017
Recording Academy President On The Grammys: “I Don’t Think There’s A Race Problem At All” Recording Academy president Neil Portnow and Adele backstage at The Grammys, February 12, 2017.   Michael Kovac / Getty Images

Despite Beyoncé's nine nominations at the 2017 Grammys, the pop star walked away with only two awards for her groundbreaking visual album Lemonade and was beaten out by Adele's 25 for Album of the Year. The snub prompted outrage from Solange, Kendrick Lamar, and other artists but it also served to further a discussion on race and exclusion that has long been present surround "music's biggest night."

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In an interview with Pitchfork, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow responded to concerns regarding racism at The Grammys. "I don’t think there’s a race problem at all," he said."Remember, this is a peer-voted award...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."

A group of significant artists didn't attend The Grammys this year — including Drake, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean — but Portnow seemed unfazed by their absence. "We were delighted to have him on our stage, which gave him a platform very early in his career," he said of Frank Ocean, who declined to enter his music for consideration. "Artists change their opinion. I don’t begrudge his choice at all and we’ll see what the future brings."

Read Pitchfork's full interview with Neil Portnow here.

Recording Academy President On The Grammys: “I Don’t Think There’s A Race Problem At All”