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India.Arie Responds to Neil Portnow’s “Stepping Up” Comments; Vanessa Carlton Wants Him Fired

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Many women in the entertainment world have been outspoken against Recording Academy President Neil Portnow following his controversial comments after Sunday night’s Grammy Awards when he addressed the lack of female representation at the ceremony by suggesting female artists need to “step up” if they want to win more gongs.

“It has to begin with… women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level,” he told Variety. “(They need) to step up because I think they would be welcome.”

Vanessa Carlton’s petition to have Recording Academy President Neil Portnow step down from his position has reached its target.
Portnow caused controversy after Sunday night’s Grammy Awards when he addressed the lack of female representation at the ceremony by suggesting female artists need to “step up” if they want to win more gongs.

Pink, Sheryl Crow, Iggy Azalea, Charli XCX, Halsey, and India.Arie are among the stars who have slammed him for his remarks. Below is a sample of Arie’s message.

“Neil Portnow is mistaken. His statements are a mess, but I get why he can’t empathize with women and women of color,” Arie writes. “HE is saying, the more women there are, the more chances women have to WIN. BUT. WE NEED MORE WOMEN, more WOMEN OF COLOR AND MORE INCLUSIVE MINDED PEOPLE in positions of power, in the rooms where decisions are made. When this happens, doors will open for women to be represented in more DIVERSE WAYS. The music industry is dominated by white men and the Grammys and NARAS are run and produced by ONLY white men. The fact that Portnow says we’d “be welcomed” indicates that he doesn’t think we’re part of the household to begin with.”

“A Thousand Miles” singer Vanessa Carlton took things a step further by launching a petition to have Portnow removed from his position.

“Attention everyone, especially musicians: Step up. And sign the petition to have Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy/Grammy’s, to step down. We are close to our goal of 10000 votes. Pass along,” she tweeted on Wednesday. Last we checked, she had surpassed that amount in signatures.

Explaining her decision to start the petition, Vanessa told Vulture: “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. 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.”

Her backpedaling remark was referencing Portnow’s second statement attempting to apologize for his first, in which he said that his words were “taken out of context.”

“Sunday night, I was asked a question about the lack of female artist representation in certain categories of this year’s Grammy Awards,” he said in a statement issued to People.com. “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.”

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