Recording Academy launching “female advancement” music industry task force amid calls for president's resignation

Monty Brinton/CBSThe Recording Academy, the music industry group which hands out the Grammys, on Thursday announced the formation of a task force to aid “female advancement” in the music industry.

The announcement comes after Academy President Neil Portnow faced a barrage of criticism for comments to reporters after last Sunday’s Grammys in which he said women need to “step up” to be better represented at the ceremony.

“I understand the hurt that my poor choice of words following last Sunday’s Grammy telecast has caused,” Portnow wrote in a letter addressed to “the music community” on Thursday.  “I also now realize that it’s about more than just my words. Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women. I’d like to help make that right,” he added.

The task force’s goal will be to identify ways in which the Academy can “do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community,” according to the letter.

Portnow pledged that the task force also will look at the Academy itself “and tackle whatever truths are revealed.”  

According to the letter, more specifics will be announced “in the coming weeks.”

After Sunday’s telecast, in which only one major award went to a solo female, the hashtag #GrammySoMale, began trending.  Before the show, The New York Times reported that only nine percent of all Grammy nominees in the past six years have been women.

Also on Thursday evening, a group of female music industry executives issued a letter calling for Portnow’s resignation. Variety reports that the group, led by attorney Rosemary Carroll, wrote in a letter to Portnow,  The statement you made this week about women in music needing to ‘step up’ was spectacularly wrong and insulting and, at its core, oblivious to the vast body of work created by and with women.” The letter said, “Today we are stepping up and stepping in to demand your resignation.”

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