Lately the Grammys have gotten a lot of flak for their treatment of women and people of color: in 2018 Lorde was denied an opportunity to perform solo during the telecast despite being an Album of the Year nominee, and though Bruno Mars (of Filipino and Puerto Rican descent) swept the top awards, black hip-hop artists were once again shut out in the general field. Making matters worse, recording academy president Neil Portnow told women to “step up” if they want recognition. So the Grammys announced a task force on diversity and inclusion to be led by Tina Tchen, the former chief of staff for First Lady Michelle Obama. And now that task force has just announced its other members.
Several recording artists will join Tchen in her effort to improve diversity in the academy and at the Grammys, including Common, Sheryl Crow, Cam, Andra Day and Jimmy Jam. The task force also includes Stephanie Alexa (vice president of finance and licensing administration, ATO Records), Michele Anthony (executive vice president and executive management board member, Universal Music Group), Giselle Fernandez (award-winning television journalist), Beth Laird (CEO and co-owner, Creative Nation), Debra Lee (chairman and CEO, BET Networks), Rebeca Leon (co-founder and CEO, Lionfish Entertainment), Elizabeth Matthews (CEO, ASCAP), Dr. Stacy L. Smith (founder and director, USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative), Ty Stiklorius (founder and CEO, Friends At Work), Julie Swidler (executive vice president of business affairs and general counsel, Sony Music) and Dean Wilson (CEO, SEVEN20).
Tchen said in a statement, “I’m honored to lead such an esteemed group of visionaries who possess the experience and passion needed to drive real change in building a more inclusive and equitable music community. This is an important first step made possible by the Recording Academy’s leadership, which recognizes the benefit of examining these issues with fresh eyes.”
The task force will soon review recording academy operations and policies regarding corporate governance, hiring, membership, awards and the Grammy telecast itself. And they’re asking for public feedback to take under consideration. Do you think this task force will bring major change to the recording academy and the Grammys?