×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Grammy Awards Producer Welcomes Political Passion in Acceptance Speeches

In a fraught moment of political protest across the country, the live mic at televised award shows has become a potent weapon.

As such, Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich has a message for those who will take the stage on Sunday’s ceremony: Bring it on.

Ehrlich has no reservations about political messages or anti-President Trump statements flying during CBS’ three and a half hour Grammycast. Artists expressing passionate opinions about real-life issues are the stuff of memorable moments, he said.

“One of the tenets of our show is artistic freedom, and over the years we’ve shown we do believe in it,” Ehrlich told Variety. “How many more times do we need to hear ‘I’d like to thank my publicist, my agent, my wife and kids.’ The great acceptance speeches are ones that have a point of view and are more personal.”

The only guidelines on speech that Ehrlich has to keep an eye (and ear) on is profanity, given the potential for CBS to be hit with FCC fines if F-bombs fly before 10 p.m. But almost everything else is fair game.

“One of the things I’ve learned from working with artists for 40 years is that they are deep-thinking, vital individuals who have interests that cover a broad cover a broad spectrum of subjects and passions,” he said. “We should certainly allow for it on the broadcast.”

Ehrlich notes that the Grammy Awards as an institution has addressed issues of social justice and equality on the telecast in recent years.

In 2014, rapper Macklemore was given a big showcase for his plea to end homophobia and misogny in hip-hop. The same telecast featured en masse weddings of 33 gay and straight couples to make a statement about same-sex marriage. The following year, the Grammycast focused on the problem of rape on college campuses, giving a rape survivor chance to address the audience, followed by a video from President Obama and a performance by Katy Perry.

Ehrlich, who is in his 37th year of producing the Grammys and just extended his deal through 2020, emphasized that those segments would not have happened without the support of the Recording Academy, notably from president Neil Portnow, and the CBS team led by specials and event programming czar Jack Sussman. The high-wire act of producing a live telecast with so many forceful personalities hinges on the trust built up over many years.

“This is a real team,” Ehrlich said. “We all work on a lot of shows, but I’d like to think when we come together every year for this one, it’s really special.”

More Music

  • Kanye West attends "The Cher Show"

    Kanye West's Sunday Church Service: Where Spirituality and Exclusivity Meet

    Another Sunday has passed which means another installment of Kanye West’s weekly church service. Launched at the top of the year, it’s become the most prestigious, highly-coveted invitation among the greater music community in Los Angeles — an event that only the select and handpicked worshipers get to experience. So what’s the service like? Think: [...]

  • The myspace website viewed on an

    Musicians Freak Out as They Belatedly Learn Myspace Lost 50 Million Songs

    Myspace-related news travels very, very slowly in the late 2010s. So while the company had quietly acknowledged a massive data loss in response to user inquiries last year, it took until this weekend for the greater public to begin to become aware that all music uploaded to the site prior to 2015 has now migrated [...]

  • QueenNaija_Trailer

    Queen Naija Gets Docu-Series From MTV, Available on Facebook and YouTube

    Viral R&B star Queen Naija is featured in MTV’s newest digital original series, “The Birth of Queen Naija,” The first episode of the three-part docu-series launched Monday (March 18) on MTV Facebook, with the other installments to be released on following Mondays. “The Birth of Queen Naija” will also be available MTV YouTube on Fridays, [...]

  • Former Ozzy Osbourne Guitarist Bernie Torme

    Former Ozzy Osbourne Guitarist Bernie Torme Dies at 66

    Bernie Tormé, a veteran hard rock guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne,  Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan and his own solo bands, died Sunday at the age of 66, according to a statement from his family. “Bernie Tormé passed away peacefully on the 17th March 2019, one day short of his 67th birthday, surrounded by [...]

  • Brooks & Dunn, Ray Stevens Named

    Brooks & Dunn, Ray Stevens Named to Country Music Hall of Fame

    The once broken-up, now reunited country duo Brooks & Dunn were named to the Country Music Hall of Fame’s class of 2019 Monday morning, a few weeks before the release of their first album in 12 years. Also announced were comic singer-songwriter Ray Stevens, in the veteran performer category, and former producer and label chief [...]

  • Sony Music Names Amanda Collins Head

    Sony Music Names Amanda Collins Global Head of Corporate Communications

    Amanda Collins has been named executive vice president and global head of corporate communications for Sony Music Entertainment, effective immediately, it was announced today by CEO Rob Stringer. According to the announcement, in this role she will be responsible for the company’s global internal and external communications strategy and its implementation around the world, working [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content