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The representation of women in the music industry has become a hot-button issue, spurred partially by this year's male-dominated Grammys ceremony and the unfortunate comments from Recording Academy President Neil Portnow that women need to "step up" in order to be better represented at future ceremonies.
Musician, David Byrne, known as an innovator and New Wave pioneer, has typically been inclusive and welcoming of artists and fans from all walks of life. However, after revealing a list of all-male collaborators for his anticipated new album, American Utopia, fans of the artist criticized him about the dearth of female artists included on the project, prompting him to release a heartfelt statement that not only addressed the issue but also illustrated how we all must make inclusion a priority.
"I'd like to thank those who wrote for calling attention to this — this matters a lot to me," Byrne wrote in the statement. He then went on to take full blame for his oversight in hiring female musicians to assist in the making of the record. "This lack of representation is something that is problematic and [widespread] in our industry," Byrne wrote. "I regret not hiring and collaborating with women for this album — it's ridiculous, it's not who I am and it certainly doesn't match how I've worked in the past. It doesn't represent my current live show, which has a slew of diverse creators and collaborators, making this even more negligent on my part."
Before closing his statement, Byrne also made it a point to give a note to "mansplainers" everywhere, writing, "It's hard to realize that no matter how much effort you spend nudging the world in what you hope is the right direction, sometimes you are part of the problem. I never thought of myself as being 'one of those guys,' but I guess to some extent I am."
Byrne's statement comes as the Recording Academy tries to course correct after the backlash Portnow's comments sparked — which prompted responses from the likes of Pink and Katy Perry.
The Recording Academy announced that it would be creating an independent task force concerning the advancement of women in the industry and appointed Michelle Obama's former chief of staff Tina Tchen to lead it. The task force will be identifying "the various barriers and unconscious biases faced by underrepresented communities throughout the music industry and, specifically, across Recording Academy operations and policies," the Academy said in a statement.
Byrne's American Utopia is set to arrive in stores on March 9.
Cover image: Ferenc Szelepcsenyi / Shutterstock.com