Women of Grammys strike back after controversy

By AFP/Shaun Tandon   January 31, 2018 | 07:32 pm PT
Women of Grammys strike back after controversy
New Zealand pop prodigy Lorde performs at the 2018 MusiCares Person Of The Year gala at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Photo by AFP/Angela Weiss
'Women in music don't need to 'step up' - women have been stepping since the beginning of time.'

New Zealand pop prodigy Lorde has thanked her fans for supporting female musicians, as artists hit back amid controversy that the Grammy Awards neglected women - a spat fueled by comments from the Recording Academy's president seen as disparaging.

The 21-year-old's "Melodrama" was the only work by a woman nominated for the most prestigious prize of Album of the Year on the music industry's biggest night Sunday.

She not only was bested by Bruno Mars' "24K Magic" but she was not given a spot to perform at the televised show in New York. The Recording Academy, which administers the awards, said the roster was full.

Lorde took out a full-page advertisement in The New Zealand Herald with doodlings about the Grammys and a handwritten note that thanked readers "for loving and embracing 'Melodrama' the way you did."

"Thank you, also, for believing in female musicians. You set a beautiful precedent!" she wrote.

The Grammy winners slanted overwhelmingly male at a time of mounting activism by women against sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

The Grammy show's most memorable performer may have been Kesha, who fiercely sang her track "Praying" about a producer she says raped and psychologically tormented her - allegations he denies.

Recording Academy president Neil Portnow told reporters that the music industry needed to show a "welcome mat" to women, but drew controversy as he explained how female artists could win more awards.

"I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls who want to be musicians... to step up, because I think they would be welcome," he said.

Criticism by pop stars 

Pop singer P!nk struck back without naming Portnow: "Women in music don't need to 'step up' - women have been stepping since the beginning of time."

Honoring women would show "the next generation of women and girls and boys and men what it means to be equal, and what it looks like to be fair," she wrote in a handwritten note on Twitter.

P!nk was backed by pop superstar Katy Perry, the most followed person on Twitter, who hailed women "making incredible art in the face of continual resistance."

"We ALL have a responsibility to call out the absurd lack of equality everywhere we see it," Perry, whose latest album was not nominated for any Grammys, wrote to her more than 108 million followers.

Alessia Cara dismisses backlash 

Despite this year's controversy, the Grammys have not lacked female victors in the past.

The last two winners of Album of the Year were both women - Adele and Taylor Swift. And on Sunday, Canadian soul-pop singer Alessia Cara won one of the top awards, Best New Artist.

But Cara also faced criticism on social media with users saying the 21-year-old singer, whose breakthrough hit "Here" came out in early 2015, did not qualify as new.

Cara - whose socially conscious lyricism wrestles with issues such as poor self-image - responded on Instagram that she had not sought the award and added: "I am not going to be upset about something I've wanted since I was a kid."

"I will not let everything I've worked for be diminished by people taking offense to my accomplishments and feeling the need to tell me how much I suck," she wrote.

"Here's something fun! I've been thinking I suck since I was old enough to know what sucking meant."

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