Speaking to music website Pitchfork, Portnow said, "No, I don't think there's a race problem at all. Remember, this is a peer-voted award. So when we say the Grammys, it's not a corporate entity. It's the 14,000 members of the Academy."
Beyonce was the most nominated artist at the 2017 Grammys with nine nominations, but she only walked away with two wins. Pitchfork pointed out that white artists have won Album of the Year for almost the last decade (Herbie Hancock won in 2008). Portnow explained,
We don’t, as musicians, in my humble opinion, listen to music based on gender or race or ethnicity. When you go to vote on a piece of music—at least the way that I approach it—is you almost put a blindfold on and you listen. It’s a matter of what you react to and what in your mind as a professional really rises to the highest level of excellence in any given year. And that is going to be very subjective. That’s what we ask our members to do, even in the ballots. We ask that they not pay attention to sales and marketing and popularity and charts.
He added, "But we are always working on increasing diversity in membership, whether it’s ethnicity, gender, genre, or age. In order to maintain our relevance, we have to be refreshing all the time and we have to be doing that across the board."
But apparently not everyone feels the same. Singer Frank Ocean decided not to submit his album, Blonde, telling the New York Times that the Recording Academy "doesn't seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from."
Adele, who won Album of the Year for her album 25 over Beyoncé's Lemonade, said backstage at the Grammys,
My view is, like, 'What the fuck does she have to do to win Album of the Year?The Grammys are very traditional, but I just thought this year would be the year that they would kind of go with the tide.