Neil Portnow
Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, during the 2018 Grammy Awards. Photo: Recording Academy Grammy Awards

Still facing pressure over much-criticized remarks he made after a male-dominated Grammy Awards, the president of the Recording Academy Thursday announced a task force that will explore ways to improve “female advancement” in the industry.

Neil Portnow again acknowledged “the hurt that my poor choice of words following last Sunday’s Grammy telecast has caused.”

“I also now realize that it’s about more than just my words,” he said. “Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women. I’d like to help make that right.”

Portnow was asked after Sunday’s Grammys about the low number of female nominees in the show’s top categories. He responded by saying women “who want to be musicians, engineers, producers and want to be part of the industry on the executive level (need) to step up.”

He said Thursday the new independent task force is being created “to review every aspect of what we do as an organization and identify where we can do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community.”

“We will also place ourselves under a microscope and tackle whatever truths are revealed,” he said.

The announcement came on the same day that a group of female music- industry executives sent a letter to Portnow demanding his resignation as president of the Recording Academy.

The letter, obtained by Variety, said his “step up” comment was “spectacularly wrong and insulting and, at its core, oblivious to the vast body of work created by and with women.”

“We do not have to sing louder, jump higher or be nicer to prove ourselves,” the letter states. “We step up every single day and have been doing do for a long time. That fact that you don’t realize this means it’s time for you to step down.”

The letter cited a recent USC study of popular music, which found that of the 899 individuals nominated for a Grammy between 2013 and 2018, only 9.3 percent were female, and only 10 percent of nominees for record of the year over a six-year period were female.

–City News Service

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