Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, which is the organization that oversees the Grammy Awards, recently announced that he will be stepping down from his position in the summer of 2019, Billboard confirms. Portnow released a statement on Thursday (May 31), announcing the news.
“When I had the honor of being selected to lead this great organization in 2002, I vowed that on my watch, for the first time in our history, we would have a thoughtful, well-planned and collegial transition,” the executive’s statement reads. “With a little more than a year remaining on my current contract, I’ve decided that this is an appropriate time to deliver on that promise.”
Portnow did not provide a reason for his departure, but his announcement is coming at a rather interesting time. The president recently received a massive wave of backlash after he suggested women should “step up” when asked about the underrepresentation in the music awards circuit (Alessia Cara was the only woman to win a solo Grammy at the 2018 awards ceremony). “[Women need to] step up because I think they would be welcome,” he said at the time. “I think it’s upon us, us as an industry, to make the welcome mat very obvious.”
Portnow quickly apologized for the poor choice of words, but not before senior female executives banded together, calling for him to step down from his position. A petition also cosigned the women’s sentiments, garnering more than 30,000 signatures. Artists such as Kelly Clarkson and P!nk also called out Portnow for his comments.
Neil Portnow is the Recording Academy’s longest-standing president. There is no word on who will replace him when his contract expires in July 2019.