Vanessa Carlton sits at the forefront of those asking Recording Academy CEO and president Neil Portnow to step down after his terrible “step up” comment earlier this week.
After a male-dominated 60th Grammys, viewers expressed their disappointment through the #GrammysSoMale hashtag. When asked about why Lorde, the only woman nominated for Best Album, couldn’t perform during the show Sunday night, Portnow made some backward comments about how women need to “step up” if they want more representation in the music industry. Meanwhile only 17 out of 86 awards were won by women, and Alessia Cara won the night’s only top televised award for Best New Artist.
Portnow walked back those comments and apologized, but the damage had already been done. Many women artists including Pink, Charli XCX, and Katy Perry, as well as Tina Knowles, burned Portnow for his statement. Now Carlton is using this outrage to try and get the Recording Academy President removed. On Wednesday she shared a petition via Twitter that urges Portnow to resign.
In a new interview with Vulture, the three-time Grammy nominee explained why she’s stepping up to take down Portnow. “We’ve all been in the industry a really long time and it was incredibly inappropriate for someone in that position to make a statement like that, including his backpedaling,” she said. “His head is completely in the wrong place. That’s why I’m stepping up in a way now that I have not in the past.”
Carlton has been a voter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences since 2002, but she hasn’t voted in five years. After seeing the abysmal show on Sunday, she decided to renew her membership and become a more active participant in creating an equal space for artists. “I’ve had the opportunity to play on the Grammys, be nominated, and be a NARAS member, and I still feel that now I have to step up to vote, too. I absolutely have to vote. So do many others,” she said. “Just because I had a fine time at the Grammys and got to play my song, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a fundamental problem that’s going on in the environment over there. It also comes from the top.”
While Carlton is hoping the petition will be able to affect change in the industry, she says if nothing changes she would consider boycotting the whole thing. “We have so much power, that if women would really consider making moves like that if this doesn’t work and there is no change, then [boycotting] would work,” she said.”
At the time of this post, the petition has surpassed its 10,000 signature goal and has reached 12,965 signatures. “We’re obviously gonna hit 10,000 signatures and then we’ll up the goal. Then we’ll see where the momentum takes us and deliver this to the Recording Academy,” Carlton said. “We need a new president.”
Read the full interview here.