Despite receiving nine nominations for her monumental visual album Lemonade at this year’s Grammy’s ceremony, Beyoncé walked away with only two awards, being defeated by Adele’s 25 for the top prize of Album of the Year. The noteworthy defeat was met with immense criticism for the Academy’s consistent disregard for black art from Solange, Kendrick Lamar, and even Adele herself.
Recording Academy President Neil Portnow rejected the accusations of racism with Grammy voters, stating in a Pitchfork interview “I don’t think there’s a race problem at all.” Calling for naysayers to remember that the award show is peer-voted, Portnow continued “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.”
Portnow stands “100% behind the [Grammy nomination and selection] process” but admits that the Recording Academy is “always working on increase[d] diversity in membership, whether it’s ethnicity, gender, genre, or age.”