When Alicia Keys hosts the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, she’s going to possible strive to come to a decision the mood as upbeat asshe did closing twelve months. But a unhappy cloud hangs over the lawsuits. The Recording Academy is within the intervening time locked in a vicious battle against its aged president and CEO Deborah Dugan, who had led the group for not fairly half of a twelve months before being positioned on administrative toddle away on Jan. 16. Since then, accusations of harassment, corruption and wrestle of pastime occupy whizzed , with the rancor reputedly finest escalating by the day. On Jan. 21, Dugan filed a 44-web train criticism to the Equal Employment Various Commission, accusing the Academy of retaliation and voting irregularities; in a public assertion, the Academy accused Dugan of being “abusive and bullying.”
And while the dispute facilities on one lady, its implications toddle some distance past her, shedding mild on the Grammys’ gender imbalance and the larger music change’s components of inequality and reported backdoor dealing. Inan interview onFactual Morning Americaon Thursday, Dugan claimed that the Grammy awards are commonly rigged by board people: “There are incidents of wrestle of pastime that taint the outcomes,” she said—sparking a denial from the Academy.
Whether or not or not her accusations are true, the controversy is an astronomical blow for the Grammys, a firm desperately searching to shake off its stodgy recognition and flip the corner on a apprehensive generation wherein excessive-profile artists like Drake and Frank Ocean occupy renounced them. Right here’s what you would like to grasp about how the Recording Academy arrived at this tenuous keep, and what’s at stake.
In 2018, a Firestorm Erupts Over Representation
Four days before the 60th Annual Grammys, a watch on the music change became released by the College of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which chanced on that proper 9 percent of the 899 folk nominated over the earlier six Grammy Awards were ladies. To boot, barely any female producers or songwriters were credited on the country’s high-charting songs. “By approach of ladies’s ability to make a contribution and to lead, they’re being shut out of the route of,” Stacy Smith, the professor who led the watch,told the New YorkTimesin 2018.
At the awards sign four days later, finest one lady, Alessia Cara, obtained a solo Grammy on air. In a within the relieve of the scenes interview at the sign, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow told newshounds that women “who’re searching to be musicians, who’re searching to be engineers, producers, and are searching to be fragment of the change on the executive level”must “step up.”
While Portnow later said he regretted the unhappy flip of phrase, which set the onus on ladies moderately than the institutional barriers that held them relieve, the rupture became performed. His feedback were met with a fierce backlash across the music change, with #GrammysSoMale exploding as a trending subject on Twitter; many prominent female artists called him out on social media and demanded his resignation.
Dugan Makes an strive to Flip the Net page
Portnow stepped down in July 2019 at the terminate of his contract. To interchange him, the Academy tapped Deborah Dugan, an executive who previously served as the CEO of Red, a nonprofit founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver with a mission to eradicate AIDS.
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Dugan pledged to fight inequality within the group by enacting huge-sweeping changes. “The final components that Neil has addressed occupy led us to a a lot bigger conversation, and that can also presumably be a conversation, obviously, that we occupy to occupy about ladies and differ in music,” Dugantold the Los AngelesTimesin May maybe well presumably additionally simply 2019.
Dugan’s goals were buoyed by the Recording Academy’s first Process Force on Diversity and Inclusion, which became impulsively assembled within the wake of the Annenberg 2018 document. In December 2019, the duty force, led by Times Up president Tina Tchen, filed a 47-web train document documenting the representation shortcomings of the group—including the truth that proper 22 percent of Grammy voters are female—and issued 18 requires for the Academy to satisfy. Dugan introduced that she would absorb all but one in every of the solutions.
“We’ve is named an change for a actually long time that we occupy a monumental affirm with gender components,”she told NPR in December. “Right here is a main restructuring to enable for instantaneous differ.”
Dugan clashes with Academy insiders
As Dugan strove to put into effect changes, she chanced on herself at explicit odds with two folk at the Academy: Joel Katz, a sturdy change prison legit who represents the Grammys, and Claudine Shrimp, Portnow’s aged assistant. Dugan alleges that before her hiring, Katz propositioned her and tried to kiss her at a dinner. Katz, in an announcement issued by his prison legit to TIME, “categorically and emphatically denies her model of that night.”
Shrimp and Dugan also clashed as Dugan settled into her job. Dugan claimed within the EEOC criticism that Shrimp, who labored at the Academy for over 19 years, “became not up to the duty” of being an assistant: that she didn’t know how to expend an Outlook calendar and got complaints about her behavior. (The long-established model of the criticism acknowledged that Shrimp became criticized by Barbra Streisand’s supervisor. But Michael Willemin, one in every of Dugan’s attorneys, said that it became in actuality Streisand’s “executive producer” who made the observation.) Shrimp, in flip, accused Dugan of being verbally abusive and establishing a adversarial keep of commercial atmosphere.
“Ms. Dugan’s chance to litigate within the click and spread a unfounded story in regards to the Academy and me and my colleagues is regrettable, but it’s miles also emblematic of Ms. Dugan’s abusive and bullying behavior while she served as the Academy’s President and CEO,” she wrote in an announcement to TIME.
Dugan is ousted
Ten days before the 2020 Grammys, the Recording Academy released an announcement announcing Dugan became out: “In mild of concerns raised to theRecording AcademyBoard of Trustees, including a proper allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of theRecording Academycrew, the Board has positioned [Dugan] on administrative toddle away, effective straight.” The file producer Harvey Mason, Jr. became named period in-between president.
The “senior female member” in request became Shrimp, who says she filed the allegation of misconduct—which Dugan characterized as an allegation that she “acted in a adversarial manner” towards Shrimp—on Dec. 17. On the opposite hand, Dugan said within the criticism that Shrimp’s allegation became a smokescreen for the academy—and that her dismissal in actuality stemmed from a harshly worded sign she wrote on Dec. 22 to the Academy’s head of human sources.
In that sign, she recounted Katz’s alleged harassment and claimed that board people permitted funds to themselves and were stricken by conflicts of pastime. She also wrote that Portnow had been accused of rape by a female recording artist—and that Dugan had finest learned of the accusation after she agreed to be CEO. Portnow, in an announcement, answered that “the allegations of rape are ludicrous, and unfaithful”—and added that after the accusation became made, “an in-depth fair investigation by experienced and very stylish attorneys became performed and I became entirely exonerated.”
The Dispute Spills Out Into the Open
In the week in between Dugan’s dismissal and the Grammys, a media firestorm has erupted, with every side releasing a volley of statements to the click. On Jan. 20, Mason, Jr. alluded to Dugan’s introduction of a “toxic and insupportable” and “abusive and bullying” work atmosphere—and said that when she became asked to step down, she asked for thousands and thousands of bucks to withdraw her have allegations. “I’m deeply tremulous and saddened by the ‘leaks’ and misinformation, which are fueling a press campaign designed to earn leverage against the Academy for personal earn,”he wrote.
On Jan. 22, Dugan answered by filing an explosive criticism wherein she claimed that her dismissal became the terminate outcomes of her efforts to mumble a differ of misconduct at the Academy that became “all made imaginable by the ‘boys’ club’ mentality and arrangement to governance.” Dugan says she became asked to signal her title on misleading tax paperwork; that other excessive-ranking ladies at the Academy had been pressured and silenced; and that the group had tried to manufacture her rent Portnow as a specialist for $750,000 following his dismissal.
The Academy answered to the criticism in an announcement: “It is racy that Ms. Dugan by no arrangement raised these grave allegations until per week after true claims were made against her in my view by a female worker who alleged Ms. Dugan had created a ‘toxic and insupportable’ work atmosphere and engaged in ‘abusive and bullying behavior.’ Ms. Dugan became positioned on administrative toddle away finest after providing to step down and annoying $22 million from the Academy, which is a not-for-profit group. Our loyalty will repeatedly be to the 21,000 people of the Recording Academy.”
Willemin, one in every of Dugan’s attorneys, denied this enlighten in a phone call with TIME. “It’s clearly a story the Academy is pushing to manufacture her belief horrible and besmirch her famous extra,” he said.
Dugan’s criticism also waded into the Grammys’ voting route of. Dugan claimed that board people expend dismal and unsupervised nomination analysis committees “as an opportunity to push forward artists with whom they’ve relationships.” As an instance, she said that within the hasten for the 2019 Tune of the Year, an artist who at the starting put ranked 18th out of 20 within the category garnered a nomination in consequence of they were not finest represented by a member of the Board, but additionally allowed to sit down down on the nomination committee itself.
In an announcement released on Thursday, the Academy refuted these claims. “Counterfeit allegations claiming people or committees expend our route of to push forward nominations for artists they’ve relationships with are categorically unfounded, misleading and nasty. This route of is precisely enforced with every person alive to and has no exceptions.” The assertion added that while artists can also support on a committee wherein they’ve got a nomination, they’re not allowed to vote in that category.
Fight Lines Are Drawn
Plenty of excessive-profile artists occupy attain to Ms. Dugan’s defense, including Chuck D and Sheryl Crow. “I salute Deborah Dugan for her truth and braveness to look at up on and cease change. As repeatedly, a bunch of ignorant, testosterone-fueled, generally ancient white males quit progress and screw it up,” Chuck D, from Public Enemy,wrote on Instagram.
A community of 4 ladies on the Academy’s executive committeereleased their very have assertionon Fb. They pledged to analyze all claims but additionally defended the tradition at the Academy, writing, “We have not got taken treasured time faraway from our families and careers if we felt that it became a ‘boys’ club.’”
On the night of Jan. 23, the Recording Academy Process Force on Diversity and Inclusion weighed in to true disappointment and quiz swift changes from the Academy—including the appointment of a Diversity and Inclusion Officer. “We are deeply upset at the level of commitment by just a number of the Academy’s management in effecting the vogue of true and positive change equipped in our document,” the assertion be taught. “These are changes that must be made at the very ideal ranges and institutionalized so that they dwell famous longer than any single chief.”
Portnow and Mason, Jr. did not answer to requests for observation.