May 27, 2018 / 3:52 AM

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Recording Academy President Neil Portnow Regrets 'Step Up' Comment After Backlash



Recording Academy president and CEO Neil Portnow regrets telling women to "step up" in response to the criticism on the male-dominated Grammys awards show.

The 2018 Grammy Awards, which took place last Sunday, drew widespread disapproval after male artists nearly swept nearly all of the awards during the ceremony. Although women had nominations in various categories, only Alissia Cara (Best New Artist) and Rihanna (Best Rap/Sung Performance as featured on Kendrick Lamar's "Loyalty") won trophies during the night.

Neil Portnow Tells Women To Step Up

In response, Portnow and Grammys executive producer Ken Ehrlich addressed the public on the under-representation of women, particularly Lorde's live performance snub despite being the solo female nominated for Album of the Year.

While Ehrlich merely said the show didn't have space for every deserving artist, Portnow issued a more controversial explanation by saying he thinks women need only to step up to become part of the industry and more visible.

"I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on an executive level to step up," the Recording Academy president tells the press.

He adds that women will be welcome in the industry. Now that there are so many opportunities, he also explains artists with passion only need to put their work out there

He faced backlash for his statement, both from fans and artists. Female musicians who commented on Portnow's words include Pink, Katy Perry, Charli XCX, Halsey, and Vanessa Carlton. Carlton even called for the resignation of Portnow from his position at the Recording Academy, linking an online petition that already has over 10,000 signatures.

CEO Says His Statement Lacked Articulation

After earning the ire of the public over the issue, Portnow releases another statement to clear up his earlier response. He explains that his words, particularly "step up," failed to represent his actual point.

"Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced," states Portnow.

The CEO also says he wanted to express that those barriers need to be broken and the industry needs to welcome, mentor, and empower all artists to create a richer community.

"I regret that I wasn't as articulate as I should have been in conveying this thought," he concludes, adding that he is still committed to helping build a music community that is a "better, safer, and more representative place" for every artist.

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