Female Artists Dominate the 2019 GRAMMY Awards
Last year, Canadian singer Alessia Cara was the only woman to win in one of the major categories at the 2018 GRAMMY Awards. And of the 84 awards handed out, less than a quarter went to either a woman or group that included a woman. Moreover, Lorde who was the only woman nominated for album of the year wasn’t extended an invite to perform solo — and music fans were curious as to why.
The president of The Recording Academy, Neil Portnow responded to Lorde’s snub “I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on an executive level.” He persisted, “[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome.”
Women in music raged, and rightfully so. The discussion #GrammysSoMale swept over social media. “Women in music don’t need to ‘step up’—women have been stepping since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside,” Pink wrote on Twitter in response to the notion that women need to “step up.” “Women owned music this year. They’ve been killing it. And every year before this.”
That was last year — this year was a different tune. Women dominated the 61st Grammy Awards. Women were rightfully praised and awarded for their work. Alicia Keyes was the first female host in 14 years, and she did it while remaining true to herself, in front of the cameras makeup free. “I don’t feel the desire to go back to the way that I used to do that where it was like ultra, uber heavy,” she explained of her beauty choice. “I want to express myself – and that’s what it’s all about,” she continued. Keyes wanted to feel “totally calm, confident, powerful and empowered to be completely in [her] moment,” and that is exactly what we interpreted from her stellar hosting.
Notable moments from music biggest night included the show’s kick off with Alicia Keyes calling Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith on stage. Each women spoke about how music transformed their lives, and set the tone of the night to centre around an implicit celebration of female power.
Among those honoured during the telecast were Dolly Parton and Diana Ross. Those paying tribute on stage included Kacey Musgraves, Katy Perry, Maren Morris, Miley Cyrus, and Little Big Town. Last night, Parton became country artist to be honoured in the tribute’s 29-year history.
And on her 75th birthday, Diana Ross’ performance only reaffirmed why she had been presented a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. “Young people like me can look up to her for her independence, confidence and willingness to be her unique self. She has shown the world that nothing is beyond our reach.” Ross’ 9-year-old grandson said about his grandmother just before she performed her medley of hits.
Janelle Monet’s buzz-worthy performance of Make Me Feel, Lady Gaga’s epic rendition of Shallow, Alicia Keyes’ mashup of Killing Me Softly, Unforgettable, Use Somebody, and New York, and Brandi Carlile’s much anticipated performance of The Joke were among other show-stopping moments of the telecast that featured women.
Aside from artist performances, women broke barriers and took home many notable awards this year. Cardi B became the first solo female rapper to win Rap Album of the Year for her debut project Invasion of Privacy. Dua Lipa won Best New Artist and said in her speech ‘I guess we stepped up’. And country singer Kasey Musgraves’ Golden Hour won what is arguably the most prestigious award of the night, Record of the Year. Overall, female artists were honoured in 38 categories and a total of 31 women won awards during the 61st annual ceremony.
So Neil Portnow, just in case it wasn’t made crystal clear last night, women emulate creativity; women are constantly stepping up in the music industry; and women have and will continue to shape how music is curated and shared in an impactful and positive way.