Neil Portnow bid adieu to his role as Recording Academy president after this year’s Grammy Awards, but not without a proper farewell that promised an even brighter future.
Following tributes from John Legend, Celine Dion, Jimmy Jam and other stars, Portnow took the stage to deliver one final speech that addressed both the controversy he’s faced and what’s to come for the Grammys.
“This past year I’ve been reminded that if coming face-to-face with an issue opens your eyes wide enough, it makes you more committed than ever to help address those issues,” he said. “The need for social change has been a hallmark of the American experience, from the founding of our country to the complex times we live in today. So we must seize this unique moment to bring change within our own industry to ensure that there is diversity and inclusion in all that we do. And we will.”
He added in a lighthearted quip about something he’s always wanted to say on the Grammy stage: “I’d like to thank the Academy.” Along with the Recording Academy staff and elected leaders, Portnow also thanked the creative community their support and partnership over his 17 years as president. “We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together,” he gushed.
Portnow continued, “As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience. Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution.”
Watch a clip of Portnow’s speech above.