The major talking point of the 2017 Grammy Awards was Adele winning the major categories over Beyonce, with many feeling Beyonce deserved them more.
Adele’s 25 had won Album Of The Year over Bey’s Lemonade, with Hello also pipping Formation to the Record Of The Year award.
There has been a major outcry ever since, with many accusing the Grammys of a racial bias.
It’s the 3rd time in a row a black artiste has lost Album of the Year to a white artiste, but President of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, denies that there’s any racial bias.
“I don’t think there’s a race problem at all.” Portnow told Pitchfork in an interview. “Remember, this is a peer-voted award. So when we say the Grammys, it’s not a corporate entity– it’s the 14,000 members of the academy. They have to qualify in order to be members, which means they have to have recorded and released music, and so they are sort of the experts and the highest level of professionals in the industry.”
“We don’t, as musicians, in my humble opinion, listen to music based on gender or race or ethnicity. When you go to vote on a piece of music – at least the way that I approach it – is you almost put a blindfold on and you listen. It’s a matter of what you react to and what in your mind as a professional really rises to the highest level of excellence in any given year. And that is going to be very subjective.
“That’s what we ask our members to do, even in the ballots. We ask that they not pay attention to sales and marketing and popularity and charts. You have to listen to the music. So of the 14,000 voters, they listen, they make up their minds, and then they vote. Now here’s the other interesting part of the process, and we stand 100% behind the process: it’s a democratic vote by majority. So somebody could either receive or not receive a Grammy based on one vote. It could be that tight.”
He said the Recording Academy is “always working” to increase the diversity of its membership. However, he said: “You don’t get Chance the Rapper as the best new artist of the year if you have a membership that isn’t diverse and isn’t open-minded and isn’t really listening to the music.”