Boygenius came out on top at the 2024 Grammys and bandmate Phoebe Bridgers took the chance to slam an ex-president of the Recording Academy amid their success.
“I have something to say about women. The ex-president of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, said that if women want to be nominated and win Grammys, that they should ‘step up.’ He’s also being accused of sexual violence. So to him, I’d like to say, ‘I know you’re not dead yet. But when you are, rot in piss,’” Phoebe, 29, said backstage at the Sunday, February 4, event, alongside her bandmates Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus.
Julien, 28, followed up her collaborator’s mic-drop statement, adding, “That’s pretty rock and roll.”
The all-girl band took home three awards during music’s biggest night for Best Alternative Music Album for The Record and Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song for “Not Strong Enough.” Phoebe won her fourth Grammy with SZA for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their song “Ghost in the Machine.” While they soaked in their big moment inside the press room, boygenius was asked several questions about their triumphs as a new band, which led to Phoebe’s statement.
Portnow, 76, became the chairman and president of The Recording Academy – the parent organization to the Grammy Awards – in 2002 and stepped down from his position in 2019.
The year prior, nearly every Grammy award was given to male artists. Alessia Cara was the only female to take home a gramophone trophy home for Best New Artist. Portnow was asked about the male-dominated outcome and his answer upset the industry.
“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,” he told Variety in January 2018. “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.”
Portnow announced his departure that June.
“When I had the honor of being selected to lead this great organization in 2002, I vowed that on my watch, for the first time in our history, we would have a thoughtful, well-planned, and collegial transition,” Portnow said in a statement at the time. “With a little more than a year remaining on my current contract, I’ve decided that this is an appropriate time to deliver on that promise.”
Years after his exit from the prestigious organization, Portnow was sued by an unidentified woman who claimed he drugged and raped her in a New York hotel room in 2018.
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A representative for Portnow released a statement, claiming that the rape allegations against the music mogul were false and claimed they were “the product of the plaintiff’s imagination and undoubtedly motivated by Mr. Portnow’s refusal to comply with the plaintiff’s outrageous demands for money and assistance in obtaining a residence visa for her.”
The case was settled in June 2021.
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