In 2018, the Grammy Awards sparked a controversy over Recording Academy boss Neil Portnow’s comments about women needing to “step up” in the music industry. Two years on, the event is taking place amid another storm, this time because one specific woman – Portnow’s replacement as head of the Recording Academy – has been forced to step down. Well, Deborah Dugan has been placed on administrative leave, to be accurate, “in light of concerns raised to the Recording Academy Board of Trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team”.
Variety has done an excellent job of covering the fallout since, from claims of a ‘coup’ by traditionalists within the Recording Academy; through more details on Dugan’s clashes with the board since taking up the role; to her attorney’s promise that “when our ability to speak is not restrained by a 28-page contract and legal threats, we will expose what happens when you ‘step up’ at the Recording Academy, a public nonprofit”; and onto some eye-watering figures for the amount paid by the organisation to external lawyers, which appears to be one of the key issues in the rows (Dugan had described the lack of an in-house lawyer at the Academy as “mind-boggling” in a recent interview).
As Grammys week gets underway with the usual brunches, lunches and parties, expect more blow-by-blow coverage in the US press, as gossip around what happened, and most importantly, what happens next proliferates.