White roses, Kesha offer rallying cry for women at Grammys
NEW YORK (AP) — Dozens of Grammy Award performers and attendees wore or held white roses Sunday in support of the Time’s Up movement, in an awards season where every awards show has confronted sexual misconduct in show business.
“My message on this is for everybody to treat each other like we want to be treated,” said Reba McEntire, winner for best roots gospel album. “It’s the golden rule.”
Singer-songwriter Ledisi, nominated for three Grammys and a performer at the Women’s March in Las Vegas earlier this month, had this thought: “It’s important for us to call out this madness.”
Most stars wore black and a Time’s Up pin in support of the movement at the Golden Globes earlier this month. At the Screen Actors Guild awards, all the presenters were women.
“I was just saying to someone that it’s so commonplace that most of the time women don’t even know they’ve been harassed,” said Andra Day, nominated for two R&B Grammys.
“So I think talking about it and changing the narrative about how we should be treated, particularly in this business but across all industries, is important. It’s exciting. We’re on a precipice right now.”
The sexual misconduct scandals that have rocked politics, media and Hollywood haven’t so far upended the music industry. Record mogul Russell Simmons is perhaps the biggest industry name accused of sexual misconduct. Former Epic label head L.A. Reid has also faced accusations.
Inside the auditorium, the acceptance speeches largely avoided the issue until the show reached its midpoint and Janelle Monae stepped up to demand safe working environments, an end to harassment and equal pay for women.
“We come in peace but we mean business,” she said. “To those who would dare try to silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s Up,” adding: “It’s not just going on in Hollywood. It’s not just going on in Washington. It’s right here in our industry, too.”
She then introduced a blistering performance of “Praying” by Kesha — joined by Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels, Day and a choir, all dressed in white. Kesha has been at war with her former mentor and producer Dr. Luke, who she claims raped and drugged her. He denies the accusations. At the end of the raw performance, the women took turns hugging an emotional Kesha.
Songwriter Diane Warren predicted that a reckoning will come to the music industry eventually. “It’s going to,” she said. “One hundred percent. It’s the worst.”
Ever a rocker, Warren skipped the rose on the red carpet but wore two white gloves — one with the word “girl” and one with “power.”
“I didn’t want to wear the rose. I’m a rebel,” she said.
The Time’s Up movement supports women with legal and financial help who raise sexual misconduct complaints. While female musicians from every background and genre — from country to rock and rap — spoke in favor of it, many men made a point of wearing the pin.
Dan Reynolds, lead singer of rock-rappers Imagine Dragons, said his three daughters are aspiring artists and he wore a Time’s Up pin in their honor.
“I want a different industry for them than there is right now,” he said, adding that he saw his wife suffer neglect and abuse in the music industry.
“It’s time to talk about that and confront it and to change that landscape. That’s all I can hope as a dad — for my daughters, it’s a different landscape.”
The white rose was chosen in part because it could be done quickly but also because the color has been long used as part of the women’s suffragist movement.
The men included Justin Paul, who with Benj Pasek, won a Grammy for his cast album of “Dear Evan Hansen.” He wore a pin in support of “all of the brave women, and men as well, who have spoken up.”
Allen Hughes, the director of “The Defiant Ones,” actually came to the Grammys wearing two small roses on his lapel.
“I’m a feminist,” he explained.
Associated Press writer John Carucci contributed to this report.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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