Grammy CEO Explosive Claims: Sexual Harassment, Rigged Voting

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The Grammys are set to be handed out on Sunday January 26. But in the meantime, the organization in charge, the National Academy of Recording Arts appears to be falling apart.

The first female head of the organization, Deborah Dugan, hired after former head Neil Portnow remarked after female artists won only one Grammy Award in 2018 that they needed to “step it up,” has filed a sexual harassment and gender discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Previously, the Academy placed Dugan on academic leave after a senior female member accused her of misconduct.

Dugan’s accusations against the academy are explosive. From GMA:

  • Grammys’ voting process is “illustrative of the boys’ club mentality that exists at the Academy and amongst its Board members.”
  • The board, which is 68% male and 69% Caucasian, has “decided to shroud the [nominations] process in secrecy.” She claims that people who represent or have relationships with artists sit on the committees that finalize the nominees.
  • Also, the Board selects artists who are under consideration for a nomination to sit on a voting committee. Allegedly, the complaint states, “one artist who initially ranked 18 out of 20 in the 2019 ‘Song of the Year’ category ended up with a nomination. This artist was actually permitted to sit on the ‘Song of the Year’ nomination committee. Incredibly, this artist is also represented by a member of the Board.”
  • Concurrently, Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran did not receive nominations in the Song of the Year category, despite releasing monster hits. Also, Dugan claims that the Academy tends to favor artists in the pop, rock and country genres over R&B and rap. 
  • Dugan alleges Joel Katz, general counsel for the Academy, sexually harassed her, which she described in an email to human resources on Dec. 22, 2019. She alleges Katz invited her to dinner alone in May 2019 — prior to officially starting work with the Academy — and “acted extremely inappropriately,” including calling her “baby” and attempting to kiss her.
  • Dugan claims Neil Portnow was accused of raping a foreign recording artist. Yet, she was expected to pay him a $750,000 consultant fee. 

Dugan sat for an interview with GMA’s George Stephanopoulos. Watch it here. Will artists address the controversy on Sunday? Stay tuned. The primetime Grammy Awards air will on CBS Sunday January 26 at 8pm. 

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Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!