Is there a top-secret Grammy Awards committee designed to ensure African-American nominees don’t win too many big awards at the expense of white artists?
That’s the bombshell allegation being made by Victor Willis, a.k.a. former lead singer with The Village People (he was the cop) on such disco hits as “YMCA” and “Macho Man”.
As reported by TMZ, Willis wrote “a scathing letter” to the president of the Recording Academy about what he claims is a secret committee whose purpose is to “undermine” the Grammy voters and decide whether or not to award black artists, apparently timed after Beyonce losing out to Adele in the Album of the Year category at this year’s awards — with even Adele remarking that she thought the award should have gone to Queen Bey.
In his letter, Willis demands the Recording Academy “come clean” about the “clandestine group” that he claims was formed back in the 1980s after Lionel Richie’s “Can’t Slow Down” beat out Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” for 1985′ Album of the Year, a result led “certain people (mostly white)” to become “very upset.”
According to Willis, the primary purpose of the secret committee’s is to “override the decision of Grammy voters in the event the select committee does not like who the Grammy voter has chosen” for the four top awards.
Does Willis see racism at play? You bet he does, and specifically calls out Adele’s 2017 win. “The question is how many African Americans are on that committee?” he writes in the letter (which can be read right here). “If certain people at the Grammys don’t like who the voters have chosen, a Grammy committee will simply override the voters and subsequently select who they think should win. Like Adele, maybe?”
TMZ, however, did its own research and discovered there actually is a secret committee, “but from what we can gather, the committee is designed to knock out embarrassing nominations — like, say, Milli Vanilli. However, once the nominations are locked, the voters have the final say … at least that’s what we’ve found.”
However, the Recording Academy denies Willis’s allegations, and has released the following statement:
“The Recording Academy has always been completely upfront and transparent about the fact that we have had Nominations Review Committees since 1989, which are made up of Grammy voting members. These committees have absolutely no say over the final ballot and do not determine the actual Grammy winners. The full 13,000 voting members of The Recording Academy chose the Grammy winner for Album Of The Year, as the result of a democratic, one-person, one-vote system,” reads the statement.
“The committees were introduced in the first place to help level the playing field and provide independent, emerging and lesser known artists with greater opportunities for inclusion,” the statement continues.
“The reason that the committee members’ names are not disclosed is to ensure fairness and neutrality. If their identities were made public, they could be lobbied,” concludes the statement. “This is a safeguard to protect the integrity of the process.”