Glass ceilings

Vanessa Carlton leads push to oust Grammys head who claimed women need to ‘step up’

Vanessa Carlton (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images Getty Images for NAMM)

Singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton is leading a push to remove the man heading the Grammys in order to help reform an organization, and an industry, in which women are disproportionately underrepresented. Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, came under fire after he responded to complaints about the shocking small number of women winners at this year’s awards by telling Variety that the problem was that women refused to “step up.”

“It has to begin with … women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level,” said Portnow. “[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome.”

According to a recent report from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which analyzed the popular music industry, only 16.8 percent of artists are women, only 12.3 percent are songwriters, and a mere two percent are producers. Between 2013 and 2018, 90.7 percent of Grammy nominations have gone to men.

While dozens of artists took Portnow to task for his comments, Carlton, a three-time Grammy nominee, took things a step further by tweeting a petition calling for his resignation. Speaking with Vulture, Carlton said that Portnow’s comments showed that he was completely unaware of the “million different glass ceilings” that inhibit women who try to make their way in the industry. In order to affect meaningful change at the Grammys, she added, changes in the organization behind it would first be necessary. She also spoke about why so few women in the music industry have spoken out as part of the Me Too movement, pointing that she herself had “signed an NDA for someone who appeared on the Grammys.”

“It makes my blood boil,” she said. “Those agreements are really powerful and a lot of times you’re signing them so you don’t get sued and can just get out of your contract. I’m sure there’s a lot going on there, but I don’t know anyone who’s personally signed an NDA. But I do know a lot of women in the industry who’ve had very similar situations to me. And I’ve been under my NDA for five years.”

Read the full story at Vulture.

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