Connect
To Top

Grammys set to honor music’s best, but scandals overshadow gala

Grammy awardsLos Angeles is gearing up for the Grammys, music’s marquee night, with Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X leading a pack of young, talented contenders hoping to strike gold on Sunday. But revelations of infighting at the Recording Academy, which organizes the awards show, and an explosive allegation of rape has cast a dark shadow over the glitzy gala and rattled the institution’s efforts to shed its out-of-touch image.

On Tuesday, Deborah Dugan the first woman to head the Academy, a move meant to usher in a new era for a body long accused of favoritism and a lack of diversity filed an explosive discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

She says she was suspended after raising concerns over sexual harassment, voting irregularities and other misconduct within the Academy, one of music’s most influential organizations. In the complaint, the former CEO who was put on leave last week days before her filing, accused of bullying behavior also alleged that her predecessor, Neil Portnow, had raped a foreign female musician, an allegation he has rejected as “ludicrous and untrue.”

The ongoing tempest is swirling in stark contrast with the Recording Academy’s efforts to reinvent itself, and thereby appease critics who long have lambasted the Grammys as too white, too male and too generous to music world mainstays.

Diverse nominee field

This year’s diverse slate of nominees which celebrates a mix of established and budding stars did appear to be a move in a new direction. Leading the pack is the effervescent 31-year-old Lizzo beloved by fans for her sassy, body-positive persona and unflinching messages of feminist empowerment, sexual freedom and black pride. She nabbed eight nominations, including in all the top four categories.

The 18-year-old goth-leaning pop iconoclast Billie Eilish and the genre-bending overnight sensation Lil Nas X, 20, both have six chances at Grammy gold, while the enigmatic 22-year-old R&B prodigy H.E.R. has five. The newbie frontrunners will square off against veteran powerhouses including Ariana Grande and Beyonce, as well as alt-leaning acts Lana Del Rey, Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend.

The shift follows years of sharp critique from top-tier artists including Frank Ocean, Drake and Jay-Z, who have all slammed the Grammys as irrelevant, especially citing its failure to recognize black artists.

Diverse wins ‘more possible

For John Vilanova, a professor at Lehigh University who has extensively researched the intersection of race and gender at the Grammys, this year’s field of nominees is evidence of “an environment that feels more possible” for different kinds of artists to have a chance. “It’s quite interesting, to see what will happen when you have artists who are really having their first chance at this,” he told AFP. “Their work is being appraised by the academy for the first time.”

In her first public interview since unveiling her scathing allegations that the Academy is a “boys’ club” where powerful men line their pockets and promote a misogynistic culture with impunity, Dugan told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday: “I actually wanted to make change from within.”

In her complaint, she said that some nominated artists have sat on the voting boards for their prospective categories. But when asked if the Grammys are “rigged,” Dugan sidestepped. “I was trying at each step to take a deep breath and say, ‘OK, I can make a difference, I can fix this, and I can work with this team.’,” she told the ABC morning news program.

Often remembered as much for its performances as its winners, the Grammys will feature Lizzo, Eilish and Grande, along with a genre-blending rendition of Lil Nas X’s mega-hit “Old Town Road” that will feature K-pop sensation BTS, country star Billy Ray Cyrus and the eclectic DJ Diplo, among others.

Artists including John Legend, Meek Mill and DJ Khaled — all up for Grammys this year — will perform a tribute to the late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was shot dead last year and is up for three posthumous awards.

Though the Recording Academy drama has threatened to cloud the gala, Vilanova said that in terms of expanding possibilities for artists, the Grammys appear to be taking baby steps toward structural change.

 

 

Leave a comment

More in Four One One

  • Judith Heard ‘woos’ Koffi Olomide

    Pencil thin Ugandan model Judith Heard has been in Cloud 9 after well, she claimed that she had gotten a slot...

    sqoopadminDecember 5, 2020
  • ‘Just’ Shs7.4 billion for MAMAs?

    Four years after the last MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) were held on the continent, Uganda was tipped to host the...

    sqoopadminDecember 5, 2020
  • Miss Uganda Canada on

    The first ever Miss Uganda Canada organizations are steadily taking shape with auditions kicking off this weekend. We have reliably learnt...

    sqoopadminDecember 5, 2020
  • Bebe Cool comes to the rescue at Zulitums party

    So, the musician commonly known as Zulitums not so long ago held album listener’s party. It is the new normal as...

    sqoopadminDecember 5, 2020
  • Salvador and wife to hold reception tomorrow

    After over eight years of living together, Daphine Frankstock became Mrs. Idringi on Friday 4th December 2020. The two said their...

    sqoopadminDecember 4, 2020
  • DJ Hashiru to celebrate a decade of deejaying

    Famous South Sudanese based Ugandan celebrated Deejay Hashiru has been on the disks for 10 years and he will throw a...

    sqoopadminDecember 4, 2020
  • Sheikh Nuhu Muzata is dead

    The Public Relations Officer for the Kibuli Muslim sect, Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata has died, family members have confirmed. Muzata’s body is...

    sqoopadminDecember 4, 2020
  • Salvador, Daphine set to wed today

    Comedian Patrick ‘Salvador’ Indringi and fiancé Daphine Frankstock are set to be wed today. We have learnt. The bridegroom has been...

    Isaac SsejjombweDecember 4, 2020
  • Hip Hop giants set to link up this weekend 

    As we are gearing towards the total end of the lockdown the entertainment industry has started opening itself up. Some events...

    Isaac SsejjombweDecember 3, 2020