Kanye West was a no-show at the 2017 Grammy Awards on Sunday; however, organizers of the event insist he did not abstain out of protest. In fact, the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences claims West would have likely performed at the ceremony if it had not been for health reasons.
“Kanye, as you know, had some medical concerns and situations. We had dialog with him about actually performing,” Neil Portnow told Pitchfork. “At the end of the day, what we had heard was he just wasn't in a place where he felt comfortable doing that. That’s completely understandable.”
About a week after the 2016 Grammys, West went to Twitter expressing concern about the way the awards show is handled. He admitted the Grammys were important, but wanted to speak to Portnow about fixing the awarding system, calling it “way off and completely out of touch.”
When asked if he was worried that big-name acts like Frank Ocean and Drake were also absent from this year’s Grammys, Portnow didn’t sound too concerned.
“They're all different situations. Not everybody comes to the Grammys every year. There’s no requirement that they do it," he said. There are all kinds of reasons why they don’t. I totally respect that. In the case of Drake, we know he had a European tour booked. That's a big piece of business for an artist, to do a continent. So, can’t argue with that.”
As for Ocean, Portnow said he respects his decision, but hopes the singer will have a change of heart.
“Not everybody likes or wants to be part of every organization or awards process. I respect that,” he said. “We were delighted that he was a Grammy winner, we were delighted to have him on our stage, which gave him a platform very early in his career. That’s something we're proud of, and down the line he may feel differently. Artists change their opinion. I don’t begrudge his choice at all and we’ll see what the future brings.”