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Grammys chief Neil Portnow regrets telling female artists to ‘step up’ following #GrammysSoMale uproar

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Grammys chief Neil Portnow regrets telling female artists to 'step up'
Neil Portnow has said he regrets making a ‘step up’ comment in regard to women in the music industry (Picture: AP; Getty)

Reports of his comments following the near all-male whitewash at this year’s Grammys sparked outcry from both musicians and the public at large.

But following Neil Portnow’s comments in an interview with Variety following the awards show on Sunday night, the chief of the Recording Academy clarified his comments on the institution’s failure to recognize women for their achievements in music.

Releasing a statement to the publication on Tuesday, the former music executive, 70, said that he regretted the comment he made.

‘I regret that I wasn’t as articulate as I should have been in conveying this thought,’ he explained. ‘I remain committed to doing everything I can to make our music community a better, safer, and more representative place for everyone.’

Speaking about Sunday night’s awards and the aftermath he said it was regrettable he’d used the phrase ‘step up’ while talking about the lack of female artists represented at the awards.

Grammys chief Neil Portnow regrets telling female artists to 'step up'
The chief of the Recording Academy clarified his comments on the institution’s failure to recognize women for their achievements in music (Pictures: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

He said: ‘I was asked a question about the lack of female artist representation in certain categories of this year’s Grammy Awards. Regrettably, I used two words, ‘step up,’ that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make.

‘Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced. We must actively work to eliminate these barriers and encourage women to live their dreams and express their passion and creativity through music. We must welcome, mentor, and empower them. Our community will be richer for it.’

His original comments came after the awards ceremony, held in New York, on Sunday, where only one major category was won by a female, Alessia Cara.

The Canadian singer, 21 – who was also nominated for her collab with Logic on 1-800-273-8255 – bagged the best new artist gong at the awards, beating the likes of Lil Uzi Vert and SZA to the gold.

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However, the awards made headlines for other reasons other than the acts performing and the awards given out.

Her win was a brief pause in what was a male dominated night, and it was something that didn’t go unnoticed.

Viewers of the ceremony around the world started using #GrammySoMale, which subsequently went viral. Even pop’s nicest figurehead Ed Sheeran wasn’t safe from the hashtag, as many fans complained that his win in a category which featured four high-profile female acts signalled what was wrong with the awards and music in general.

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