You don’t have to be a musical genius or a Beyonce Stan to be able to recognize the greatness that is Lemonade. Last year, after 16 years in the industry, Beyonce released Lemonade, a visual album that transcends any single musical genre, instead fusing poetry, rap, rock, country, pop, and r&b in one space.
Despite the perfection that was that album, Beyonce did not take home this year’s Album of the Year. Sure, she won other Grammys, but not winning Album of The Year for Lemonade has forced us to look more closely at Academy, and who actually casts the votes. Even Adele, who took home the award, was bold enough to speak openly about who should have won:
Also, if Taylor Swift can win this award, twice, something ain’t quite right. #noshadenotea
Beyonce’s sister, Solange, who took home her first Grammy this year, tweeted the following:
There have only been two black winners in the last 20 years for album of the year there have been over 200 black artist who have performed.
And she’s right. It’s clear that there is a disconnect between what we see as greatness and what they, the members of The Academy, value. Here’s what Recording Academy President, Neil Portnow, has to say about the backlash:
“ I don’t think there’s a race problem at all…Remember, this is a peer-voted award. So when we say the Grammys, it’s not a corporate entity—it’s the 14,000 members of the Academy. They have to qualify in order to be members, which means they have to have recorded and released music, and so they are sort of the experts and the highest level of professionals in the industry. It’s always hard to create objectivity out of something that’s inherently subjective, which is what art and music is about. We do the best we can. We have 84 categories where we recognize all kinds of music, from across all spectrums.
“We don’t, as musicians, in my humble opinion, listen to music based on gender or race or ethnicity. When you go to vote on a piece of music—at least the way that I approach it—is you almost put a blindfold on and you listen. It’s a matter of what you react to and what in your mind as a professional really rises to the highest level of excellence in any given year. And that is going to be very subjective. That’s what we ask our members to do, even in the ballots. We ask that they not pay attention to sales and marketing and popularity and charts. You have to listen to the music. So of the 14,000 voters, they listen, they make up their minds, and then they vote….We are always working on increase diversity in membership, whether it’s ethnicity, gender, genre, or age. In order to maintain our relevance, we have to be refreshing all the time and we have to be doing that across the board.”
“Sometimes people are perhaps disappointed at the results and then when asked, ‘Hey did you participate in this election?,’ the answer is no. And then, it’s after the fact, not much you can do if you haven’t been a part of it. So to anybody that is unhappy with the results or even feels that there could be a stronger representation of any genre or ethnic group, bottom line is very simple. Just become members, join and vote. Then you have the say if you want it.” Source