If there’s been one theme that has dominated this year’s Grammy week in L.A. it is inclusion. After the controversial comments surrounding last year’s show from the academy about the lack of female representation a task force was established to help the Grammys step up their game when it came to diversity including women.
Whether this was a direct result of that or not, the symbolism of honoring Dolly Parton, who goes beyond being a country icon to just being a national treasure, at this past Friday’s MusiCares in L.A. wasn’t lost on anyone on the carpet at the event.
Both Lizzy Hale, from hard-rocking Grammy nominees Halestorm, and Best New Artist nominee Margo Price pointed out Parton’s classic crossover hit “9 To 5” was a feminist anthem when it was released in 1980.
“I think it is pertinent to these times and as important as when it was written. And it’s a good theme song this year. We’ve gotta work twice as hard to get the recognition as men,” Price told me.
Parton told me she didn’t see herself as a feminist role model, but she is happy to take on that role for so many women in music.
“I’ve been around a long time and I was one of the old pioneers in the business. And being a woman coming up as a young girl in a male-dominated business I did very well with that,” she says. “But I never even thought about being male or female and now when I have all these women say that I’ve inspired them it makes me feel proud that I’ve done something right. And I’m really for all for the women and I love working with Linda [Perry]on Dumplin’, working with Jennifer Aniston, all those wonderful women on the show and on the music.”
Perry has made a significant impact around this year’s Grammys as the first woman to be nominated for Producer Of The Year in more than a decade and by leading several panels around L.A. this past week.
She feels optimistic about how this year’s Grammys reflect a turning point for women being appreciated in music and in society in general.
“I feel like right now everything’s getting a little bit better, even though we got thrown into this terrible situation with this person that’s running our country. Because of it I feel like something happened. The carpet got lifted and we see all the evil, all the bad and everybody is being called out right now. So therefore you have to call out all the guys that have been doing stuff, and the women step in,” she says. “But we’ve had this story before in the ’90s when Lilith Fair was going on and women empowered the Grammys and the whole music business back then. That’s why that tour was one of the most successful ones. So we go in spurts. I feel it is being more consistent and I feel there are a lot of great artists right now in general. The majority of them are women and it is our time right now for the spotlight, then boy bands will come in and music goes to s**t again and it’ll rise up and get big. I think we just go in circles and cycles. But right now it’s a great time.”
Brandi Carlile, who has become the face of this year’s Grammys, deservedly gracing the covers of both Billboard and Variety, agrees with Perry it has been cyclical in the past.
“I feel like the trajectory of women has been an ebb and flow in the history of music and it’s time for that to stop. It needs to not ebb again. To see it go from where it was during the ’90s during the Lilith Fair movement, over the 20 years, the backslide we had,” she says. “But this year is heartening. This is an exciting time. I feel that and I feel I get to be a part of it.”
Perry wants Carlile and everybody to know the ebb and flow is over. “I’ll tell you this. It’s not ever gonna go backward from here. We’re only moving forward now,” Perry says confidently. “That’s what I’m saying. Everything used to be under the carpet so you could make it disappear again. But now it’s all out in the open. Nothing’s going away again.”
Of course, for Price, there is one great stride that needs to be made. “I would love to not have to be classified as a woman in music cause they don’t do that for men,” she says. “I have to be classified as a woman in music or chicks with picks, whatever, I don’t like it.”