In a press conference after last night's Grammy Awards, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow answered reporters' questions. Below is an edited transcript of his comments.
Q: Why were Gang Starr's Guru and others omitted from the "In Memorium" section?
Neil Portnow: The In Memorium segment is a real conundrum. We keep a list and it's a sad job. This past year we had over 300 people in the industry pass. So we have to, at the end of the day, make a selection, and we can't get everybody there, but we try to have a broad representation of different genres and generations and so on. We're never happy with how that exactly turns out.
Q: How did the tribute to Aretha Franklin come about?
Portnow: Over the holidays, we heard the news that Aretha was ill, perhaps very ill. I'd known Aretha [for years], I worked with her when I was at Arista Records working with Clive Davis years ago. She's an iconic woman to the Grammys -- she's the heart and soul, with 18 Grammy Awards and a lifetime achievement, a legend award. So you kind of think to yourself, on a human level, this is really awful that Aretha's not well. What can we do? She's obviously not going to come to the show this year. She can't be in the audience or even a performer, so what can we do to sort of lift her spirits?
We kicked it around and talked about it, and we thought okay, today's February 13, tomorrow's Monday, the 14th. Let's send her a beautiful musical Valentine's Day wish and try to cheer her up and get her spirits up, and that was the beginning of the idea. Again, I'll let Ken [Ehrlich] talk about how we put this together, but I feel that we did an incredible job of it, and I suspect that Aretha, as you saw for yourself in the video, was thankfully doing extremely well and we're pleased about that.
Q: At least one f-bomb crept into the broadcast.
Portnow: I don't have a clarification on that, but we do run a delay on the show -- we don't, the network does, it's their judgment, not ours.