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Grammys 2018: Recording Academy president tells female artists to "step up," incurs their wrath, backtracks

Iggy Azalea, Pink, Katy Perry, and more came for him.

Yesterday (January 29), Recording Academy president Neil Portnow made headlines for all the wrong reasons when, upon being asked by Variety about the lack of female winners at this year's Grammy Award, said that it was on the women to "step up" to warrant recognition. Here are his words:

"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… [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."

Naturally, he incited a fervent frustration in female artists (and male) who took to social media to rebuke his tone-deaf opinions.

Iggy Azalea


Katy Perry


Sheryl Crow


Charli XCX

Justin Tranter

Jack Garratt

Tegan and Sara

Portnow has since backtracked on his comments, telling The Hollywood Reporter today (January 30) that the "two words" he "regrettably" used were not in the correct context and that he encourages "actively work[ing] to eliminate...barriers" that women in the industry face.

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

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