Janelle Monae has consistently presented herself as a strong, self-respecting, dignified black woman artist/activist. She did us proud Sunday night while introducing Kesha:
Tonight, I am proud to stand in solidarity as not just an artist, but a young woman with my fellow sisters in this room who make up the music industry: artists, writers, assistants, publicists, CEOs, producers, engineers, and women from all sectors of the business. We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and human beings. We come in peace, but we mean business. And to those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time's Up. We say Time's Up for pay inequality, Time's Up for discrimination, Time's Up for harassment of any kind, and Time's Up for the abuse of power. Because you see, it’s not just going on in Hollywood, it’s not just going on in Washington, it's right here in our industry as well.
And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well. So, let's work together, women and men, as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay, and access for all women.
And as artists so often do, our next performer embodies the great tradition of delivering important social messages through their music. This fearless two-time Grammy nominee inspired so many of us including myself, when she spoke her truth on her album, Rainbow, which was nominated for best pop vocal album tonight. Here to sing "Praying,” joined by Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Andra Day, Bebe Rexha, Julia Michaels and the Resistance Revival Chorus, we are honored to stand with you and welcome you, Kesha.
Surrounded and supported by a sea of white clad vocalists, Kesha then gave a powerful performance of her song, obviously directed at the man and men who have abused her, and whose grip was upheld in her court battle against them.
This was one of several socially conscious moments in the schizophrenic Grammy show. Women performed; except for Lorde, the only Album of the Year nominee who didn't. Women spoke. But women did not win these career boosting awards in any of the top categories, except Best New Artist.
When questioned about this situation after the show, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow shrugged and said that women needed to "step up." Amid very strong criticism for the sexism of his remark and attitude, Portnow backpedalled, played the out of context card, and declared his undying love and support for women in the music industry.
The fact remains that toppling the patriarchy is needed in all aspects of this society and those in power are not going to let go willingly. So we will sing, shout, speak our truths, as we continue the momentum of our movements as the walls come tumbling down.