Outtakes: Grammys CEO on R. Kelly Wallen cancels the crop

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) – Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. spoke to The Associated Press about efforts to make the Grammys more inclusive. He also spoke about other events in the music industry and canceling culture.

Mason has responded to rumors that R. Kelly’s Grammys have been canceled now that the singer has a criminal conviction and nominating status from country singer Morgan Wallen over his use of racial slurs.

He also spoke about the academy becoming a place to educate musicians who might be misinformed about certain topics such as diversity, inclusion, race relations and LGBTQ issues.

He also explained why he had put “jr” in lowercase. in his name – to “create my own way” while honoring his musician father.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

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R. KELLY’S GRAMMYS CANCELED?

R. Kelly could have his freedom taken away after his recent criminal conviction for sex trafficking, but the R&B superstar’s Grammys won’t be taken from him – at least, for now.

Mason described Kelly’s actions as “disturbing”.

The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer was sentenced last month in New York City. He was found guilty of nine counts, including racketeering. The 54-year-old singer had managed to avoid legal and professional consequences after years of reports he sexually abused young women and children. He was also accused of making a recording of himself sexually abusing and urinating on a 14-year-old girl.

Despite the acts attached to Kelly, Mason declared that the singer’s three Grammys would stay with him for the time being. He and the academy will continue to assess their decision with caution.

“I think this is something we’re going to have to take a hard look at, have a lot of conversations, work on, and make a decision,” Mason said. In 1997, Kelly won Grammys in three different categories for “I Believe I Can Fly” from the “Space Jam” soundtrack.

“But for now, I think it’s something that’s going to take a little more consideration before we can really dictate or decide,” he continued. “My initial feeling is that we’re probably not a company we want to be in to collect people’s rewards once they’ve been awarded. But we’ll take a good look at it and see.

Only one trophy has been revoked in the 62-year Grammy history, according to the Recording Academy. The award for pop duo Milli Vanilli was withdrawn in 1990 after the group admitted to lip-syncing on the album “Girl You Know It’s True”.

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WALLEN’S INVITATION

Country star Morgan Wallen has been berated by the music industry after a video earlier this year showed him unleashing a racial slur – which Mason said was “disturbing” to hear.

“I was obviously very offended,” said Mason, who is Black. “I was upset for the music community in general because I don’t like to see a member of our musical family act like that or feel uncomfortable about someone’s actions.”

The disgraced singer was dropped by his music label, disqualified from the Academy of Country Music Awards, and his music was temporarily taken off radio and streaming stations. But despite his racist remark, the “Whiskey Glasses” singer saw his album sales soar.

Wallen has garnered multiple nominations at the upcoming Country Music Association Awards – where he was nominated for prestigious Album of the Year – and the Billboard Music Awards, but he’s not been a guest on any of those shows.

It looks like the Grammys will follow. But there is a chance that Wallen – who has apologized for his actions – will receive major category nominations next month with the hit of “Dangerous: The Double Album”, which is one of the most popular albums. released this year in all genres.

With the peer voting system, Mason says whether or not Wallen is nominated is beyond the control of the Recording Academy. But the organization can dictate whether he can attend or participate in Grammy activities, including the 64th annual awards ceremony on January 31.

Besides, Mason does not want to penalize those who worked on Wallen’s album because of his missteps.

“The thing we can control is our Grammy stage, our red carpet, our events – not just the Grammy season, but the entire season,” he said. “These are the things that we will be looking at in regards to artists and their behavior, their speech, the things they say, the way they act and make evaluations based on the things that we can control.”

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CANCEL CULTURE

Mason understands the “outcry for change” of the culture of cancellation, which he fully supports. But he doesn’t want to overreact before knowing the facts in any situation.

“The culture of cancellation has a purpose in the sense that there is a need for change and accountability, and I respect that,” he said. “But conversely, I’m not a fan of throwing someone on a rumor or someone’s word without real investigation or without real information. And that’s really my position.

This summer, DaBaby faced strong backlash after making rude and homophobic remarks at a music festival in the Miami area. The rapper has apologized twice – including once to the LGBTQ + community – for his comments and said he was misinformed about HIV / AIDS after being excluded from a few music festival schedules.

Mason hopes the Recording Academy can become a place to educate musicians who may be misinformed about topics such as diversity, inclusion, race relations and LGBTQ issues.

“There is an opportunity to educate people to use the music or maybe their platform or the stage of our show to highlight things that could be done better or done differently with respect to some of the issues. litigation that we’ve had in our country and in our community, “he said.” So I’m really looking forward to tackling some of these issues. I know it’s a little sticky. I could be. beaten because of it, but I will definitely try it.

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WHY THE SMALL?

When Mason was in high school, he wanted to create his own identity while paying homage to his famous father Harvey Mason Sr., the Grammy-nominated jazz drummer of the group Fourplay.

So, Mason decided to put “jr” in lowercase. in his name.

“I wanted to create my own path and I wanted to have my own space, but I also wanted to honor my father,” said Mason, whose father has been nominated 10 times.

“I was trying to strike a balance between having my own accomplishments and being my own person, but also recognizing my father,” he continued. “He was amazing. He paved the way for me and many other musicians. I also think it looks a lot better. Superficial reasons.

Mason is five times nominated.

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GRAMMY AWARDS TELEVISION

Even as CBS Grammy viewers have declined, Mason says that perhaps traditional “old school ratings” don’t paint the full picture.

“I think consumption habits are changing,” he said. This year’s broadcast reached 9.2 million viewers – both TV and streaming. This is the lowest number on record and a 51% drop from a year ago, the Nielsen company said.

“I think the traditional old-fashioned type of ranking of those who watch CBS between 7pm and 11pm may not give us all the information,” he continued. “I know we’re hearing really good things from the digital side, from the streaming side and other alternative ways of watching the show.”

With Viacom wading further into the streaming space, Mason wants to see how the Grammys are doing in this area. The 57th Academy of Country Music Awards will move from a TV network to streaming on Amazon Prime Video next year.

The Grammys and CBS have five more years on their broadcast deal.

“We’ll go over the next few years, see how our show potentially evolves in this area and this channel,” Mason said. “I hope we can find a great way to keep growing and keep working together. … CBS has been our partner for a very long time. We love our partnership and look forward to continuing in any form, whether it’s traditional broadcast or streaming, or whatever new format comes along over the next five years. “


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