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BACKSTAGE: ARTISTS
TALK #TIMESUP

Janelle Monae delivered the Time’s Up message on Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, fervently saying “We come in peace but we mean business. To those would dare silence us, time’s up … for the abuse of power.

“We have the power to undo the culture that has not served us well. “Let’s work together, women and men … Let’s work together as a united industry to create a safe work environment, equal pay and access for all women.”

The backstage press area at the Grammys, generally a place to get a quick answer to next projects, tours and the particulars of a recording, became a place for artists to offer suggestions, excuses and anecdotes about gender equality and sexual harassment.

The white rose Alessia Cara wore, she said, was for an “obvious” reason: “It’s speaking up not only for women in entertainment, but women not as lucky to have a voice. It needs to be talked about, needs to be changed.”

In her acceptance speech for Best New Artist, she noted “everyone deserves the same shot” in music, which she augmented backstage with this: “Really awesome people are doing incredible things who don’t get the same shot or acknowledgement if they’re not on the charts. It’s very unequal.”

As for the lack of a #MeToo Moment, Lisa Loeb noted, “People say the music community has been slow to respond, but we’re holed up in studios, we’re touring, we’re all over the place and aren’t together a lot. The Grammys are when we all get together and when we can make a great statement.”

Jason Isbell, who took home two awards in the Americana categories, spoke about writing songs that go deeper than entertainment.

“You have a responsibility to be honest about the things you believe,” Isbell said of songwriting and working in music. “One of the things I believe is that in music everyone had an equal voice, no matter their gender or race. Country music doesn’t necessarily talk about it the way other genres do. It’s important for change things for the better.”

Reba McEntire reflected on the need to address social issues in song. “I never had a problem,” she said about harassment. “I had great mentors and 90% of them were men; everyone’s been encouraging. We have to communicate better to have any kind of chance [of improving things].

“I did a song ‘She Thinks His Name was John’ [in 1994] when I didn’t know anyone with AIDS or HIV. It’s a sign of wanting to communicate. Music is a great healer.”

Loeb said her album Feel What U Feel, which won in the children’s category, ties in with the movement and honoring individual voices. “It’s about respecting yourself and your stories,” she said, “and sharing them with other people to be part of a respectful community.”

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