Updated: Mar 10, 2021
Tonight's ceremony marks the 62nd annual Grammy Awards, an edition of the prestigious event that includes more female nominees than ever before. Looking forward to a more equality-empowering future, we are reflecting on the often unbalanced history of the GRAMMYs. Find out more about the role of womxn in music at the most important American music award in our recap below.
On January 26, 2020, the Grammy Awards will be presented in 84 different categories at the Stapels Center in Los Angeles. For the second time in history, the evening will be hosted by Alicia Keys. The singer and songwriter's key role in this event is a good indicator of the advanced status of female empowerment in music. With her "SHE IS THE MUSIC" foundation, Alicia Keys, who herself calls 15 Grammys her own, is strongly committed to increasing the women's recognition and representation in music. Songwriters, engineers, producers, artists, and industry professionals - all are connected in this independent global network that is dedicated to creating strength and impact on a global scale.
"20.5% of Grammy nominees in 2020 are womxn"
Besides that, also in terms of the number of female nominees, the Grammy Awards are taking a big step towards a state of equality empowerment. This year's line-up of candidates included more womxn than ever before, with a total of 20.5% of the nominees being female-identifying. As opposed to that, in 2017, only 6.4% of the nominees were female. According to the USC Annenberg study on "Inclusion in the Recording studio" from January 2020, only 143 women were among the 1220 nominees in the years 2013 to 2020. The gender-representation gap is most extreme in the "Producer of the Year" category, where the proportion of men is 97.7 %, and the proportion of womxn as nominated engineers is similar at a mere 3 %. In response to this, the Academy has announced a program encouraging any business or individual hiring record producers or engineers to consider a minimum of two female professionals for any project. These are the female engineers and producers nominated for the Grammy 2020 (each category includes 5 nominations):
Producer Of The Year, Classical: Marina A. Ledin
Best Engineered Album, Classical: Leslie Ann Jones, Judith Sherman (same work) Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical: No female nominées
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical: No female nominées
So, where are all the female nominees of this year? They are most likely to be found within the „Song of the Year"-category (7 out of 8 are female nominées), "Best New Artist" (6 out of 8), and "Album of the Year" (5 out of 8). "Record of the Year" is the only category of the big four where there are ties. This year, US-American rapper Lizzo is to be the highest-scoring artist at eight Grammy nominations. The rapper is known to be a militant for the democratization of bodies, women's empowerment, and the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community. Billie Eilish also has good chances at topping the award's charts with six nominations. At just 18 years old, Billie Eilish is nominated in the four most important Grammy categories, making her the youngest artist ever to be nominated in all of these top categories. Nevertheless, more familiar pop greats like Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift and, Ariana Grande can look forward to nominations, too.
"Women in music don’t need to step up!"
The upswing in female nominees in 2020 is not a coincidence. In 2018, precisely at the 60th Grammy Awards gala, in face of the criticism of many artists for the lack of womxn among the nominees, Neil Portnow, the president of the Recording Academy, said the following: "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 the executive level“ need to „step up“. In response to this, several artists have criticized Portnow and the Grammys, among which were Lorde, Charlie XCX, Katy Perry, Sheryl Crow, Haim, Tegan and Sara, and Vanessa Carlton. Pink (who had performed that night) wrote back to him in a public letter on Twitter: "Women in music don’t need to step up - women have been stepping since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside.“ She added: "Women OWNED music this year. They’ve been KILLING IT. And every year before this.“
"It feels like a really unique and united place for music."
Our final conclusion: we are very much looking forward to this year's award show. In terms of equality empowerment, the whole event made a big step in the right direction. Although, of course, there is still a long way to go for equality in all the technical categories, on the artistic side, there is a young up-and-coming generation on the rise, standing up for equality in many ways and empowering each other. Diplo sums it up very nicely: "That's what's cool about the Grammys this year - it feels like a really unique and united place for music."