Deborah Dugan Out as Recording Academy President 10 days Before Grammys

Published on January 17, 2020

The Grammy Awards are without a leader ten days before the 2020 Grammy Awards ceremony. Deborah Dugan was removed from her post five months after taking the job.

“In light of concerns raised to the Recording Academy Board of Trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team, the Board has placed Recording Academy President and CEO Deborah Dugan on administrative leave, effective immediately,” a statement provided to Grit Daily reads. “The Board has also retained two independent third-party investigators to conduct independent investigations of the allegations.”

“The Board determined this action to be necessary in order to restore the confidence of the Recording Academy’s Membership, repair Recording Academy employee morale, and allow the Recording Academy to focus on its mission of serving all music creators,” the statement continues. “Board Chair Harvey Mason Jr. will serve as interim President and CEO pending the conclusion of the investigation.”

Dugan could not be immediately reached for comment, but a source close to the situation says she has hired litigator Bryan Freedman to represent her.  Dugan is the first female CEO of appointed to head the Recording Academy in August 2019, when she replaced Neil Portnow, who had headed the academy since 2002. Portnow left after being heavily criticized for comments made following the 2018 awards, in which only one woman, Alessia Cara, won across the four main prizes plus the pop, rap, R&B, and country categories.

In a report in Variety magazine overnight, sources close to the situation claim Dugan’s ouster may have been a “coup” by Academy veterans resistant to changes she was trying to make.

Recording Academy Board Chair Harvey Mason Jr., the music producer who has worked with Chris Brown, Jennifer Hudson and more, will serve as interim president and CEO of the academy.

Alicia Keys will return as host for this year’s Grammys. The awards show will feature performances Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Demi Lovato, Aerosmith, Bonnie Raitt, Tyler, the Creator, Run-DMC, Rosalía, H.E.R. and Lizzo, the top nominee with eight.

Jennifer Matthews is an Editor-at-Large at Grit Daily. Based in New York and formerly a producer at CNN, she is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the Recording Academy, Women in Music, and an ASCAP Affiliate. A media pro and producer of content, she mentors and advocates for diversity and is a regular on the events coverage beat for Grit Daily.

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