Grammys president walks back “step up” comment to women artists

“Regrettably, I used two words, ‘step up,’ that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs.”

January 30, 2018
Grammys president walks back “step up” comment to women artists SZA attends the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York.   Christopher Polk/Getty

The Grammy Awards have been roundly criticized for showing a lack of diversity at this year's event. This dominance of male artists was compounded by Grammy President Neil Portnow saying that women artists needed to "step up" in order to win prizes in the future. Portnow has now apologized for that comment, delivered during a press Q&A after the ceremony on Sunday, and issued a follow-up statement.

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The Hollywood Reporter quotes Portnow as saying: "Last 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."

Portnow's initial comments came after SZA, the most-nominated woman artist at the 2018 ceremony, failed to pick up a single award. Alessia Cara, winner of Best New Artist, was the only woman to pick up a prize during the televised section of the ceremony.

Charli XCX and Pink both criticized Portnow since his comments were made public on Monday.

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Grammys president walks back “step up” comment to women artists