A statement from the women of the executive committee of the Recording Academy was released to members on Wednesday afternoon. In it, Tammy Hurt, Christine Albert, Leslie Ann Jones and Terry Jones lament the “heartbreaking firestorm that has been unleashed.”
Although they don’t address ousted CEO Deborah Dugan by name, or her predecessor Neil Portnow who stepped aside after his unfortunate “women should step up” comment at the 2018 Grammy Awards, they cite the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, led by Tina Tchen and established in May 2018, as having “amplified” efforts for greater inclusion at the Grammy organization. The task force “created a clear path to follow and opened the door to building even more bridges to the music community at large,” reads the statement. “We pledge to continue those efforts.”
The appearance will likely heat up an already explosive situation in the run-up to the Grammy Awards on Sunday. Dugan was placed on administrative leave last week, just ten days before the show, amid allegations of misconduct against an unnamed female employee that amount to verbal abuse; Dugan’s attorneys denied this in an explosive 66-page complaint against the Academy filed yesterday.
That complaint alleges that her predecessor, Portnow, raped a female artist (and Academy executives were aware), a claim he has since denied; that Joel Katz, a prominent attorney who has been part of the Academy’s inner circle for decades, attempted to “woo” and kiss her after a private dinner, a claim he has since denied; “egregious conflicts of interest, improper self-dealing by Board members and voting irregularities with respect to nominations for Grammy Awards”; and that her emails were being monitored and shared with Academy executives by her assistant, Claudine Little, who was previously Portnow’s assistant; and exorbitant or unnecessary legal bills to outside attorneys, conflicts of interest and more (the company’s tax records show that it paid nearly $15 million to two outside law firms over five years).
Read the statement in its entirety below:
STATEMENT FROM THE WOMEN ON THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE RECORDING ACADEMY
As women, voting members, creative artists and entrepreneurs who serve on the Board of Trustees of the Recording Academy, we are deeply committed to this organization and its affiliates and the good work that is done beyond the GRAMMY Awards – advocating for artists’ rights, providing critical assistance for music people in times of need and educating, mentoring and inspiring the next generation of music makers.
Along with our male colleagues, we have made great strides in increasing our diversity throughout the organization, both in leadership at the national level, within our twelve chapters around the country, and in the nominations. Diversity has always been a priority – although admittedly, not always easy to accomplish. The partnership with the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, led by Tina Tchen and established in May 2018, amplified those efforts, created a clear path to follow and opened the door to building even more bridges to the music community at large. We pledge to continue those efforts.
It is deeply disturbing to us – and quite frankly, heartbreaking – to witness the firestorm against our organization that has been unleashed. The Academy is keenly sensitive to any and all allegations of harassment or abuse, and we support the independent investigations that have been launched. Thank you for your patience as these continue.
We have collectively volunteered many years of service guiding and supporting this organization. We would not have taken precious time away from our families and careers if we felt that it was a “boys’ club.” We are leaders of this organization and fully committed to transformational change both within the Academy and within our industry at large.
We stand ready to address all concerns, allegations and accusations with facts in hand. In the meantime we continue to pursue our mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture.
Tammy Hurt, Vice-Chair
Christine Albert, Chair Emeritus
Leslie Ann Jones, Trustee, Executive Committee Member
Terry Jones, Trustee, Executive Committee Member