Dua Lipa Subtly Threw Grammys Night Shade at Recording Academy President Neil Portnow
In taking home her Best New Artist award at Sunday night’s 2019 Grammy Awards, English singer Dua Lipa subtly threw shade at outgoing Recording Academy president Neil Portnow for his response, last year, to criticisms that the 2018 Grammys hadn’t recognized enough women artists.
“Where I want to begin is by saying how honored I am to be nominated alongside so many incredible female artists this year, because I guess this year we’ve really stepped up?” the “New Rules” singer said, before urging fans never to give up on their dreams. “No matter where you’re from, or your background, or what you believe in, never let that get in the way of you and your dreams,” she said. “Because you deserve it.”
Backstage, the 23-year-old winner of two 2019 Grammys (Best New Artist and Best Dance Recording) elaborated in the press room, telling gathered reporters that “being in the Best New Artist category and having so many female artists nominated is a big change, and it’s a change that we hope to see for many years to come.”
“It’s a big difference from previous years and I feel so grateful to have been a part of the nominations and to have seen so many women on it,” she added. “I was like, ‘This is amazing!’ And it felt right because these are artists I love and I felt honored to be able to share that moment with them.”
The 2018 Grammys had been disappointing for many music fans, particularly because so few women actually won any major awards. In fact, last year’s Best New Artist, Canadian Alessia Cara was the only solo woman to snag an award during the telecast. When fans decried the ceremony’s gender imbalance with the hashtag #GrammysSoMale, Portnow responded, blaming women for the lack of nominations, and not an outdated, and sexist system.
“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 last January. “[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. I don’t have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it’s upon us — us as an industry — to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists.”
The backlash came swiftly and hard. A group of female music industry executives issued a statement that called for Portnow’s resignation, and women artists like Charli XCX and Katy Perry spoke out against Portnow’s words. The Recording Academy unveiled an initiative to “overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community.” A petition to demand that Portnow leave his position received tens of thousands of signatures.
Portnow has since announced his intent to step down as Recording Academy president, and will ending his tenure in July of this year. He did not give a specific reason for his departure.
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)