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Harvey Mason jr. Named New Recording Academy President and CEO

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Harvey Mason jr. has been named as the new President and CEO of the Recording Academy, according to a press release. Mason has been in the position on an unpaid, interim basis since 2020, following the removal of former head Deborah Dugan. Before taking on the interim basis, Mason was Chair of the Academy’s Board. He will relinquish that duty upon entering his new role as President and CEO on June 1.

“There is nothing more rewarding than having the trust and respect of your colleagues and peers,” Mason said in a press release. He continued:

I am honored to have been appointed to continue to lead the Recording Academy on our transformative journey. While I had not initially expected to be in this position, I remain deeply invested in the success of the organization and am motivated to help us achieve our greatest ambitions. I will serve humbly with a steadfast commitment to building a more inclusive, responsive and relevant Academy.

Dugan was officially fired in March of 2020. She had been placed on administrative leave for unspecified misconduct on January 17 of that year. Following that, she filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on January 2020 where she levied explosive allegations of sexual harassment, racism, and multiple instances of corruption and conflicts of interest within the Academy.

Among Dugan’s allegations in her EEOC complaint was that former Recording Academy head Neil Portnow had raped a woman after she had performed at Carnegie Hall, which Portnow called “ludicrous.” Dugan replaced Portnow as Recording Academy CEO in August 2019, making her the Academy’s first female president and CEO. He was pressured to step down from the role following his 2018 comment that women in the music industry need to “step up.”

The focus of Mason’s tenure as interim President and CEO has been to the improve transparency of the Grammy Awards, make changes to voting procedures, and increase diversity within the Recording Academy. Since he took on the role, the Recording Academy has launched a new Songwriters & Composers Wing as well as the Black Music Collective, implemented the final recommendations of its Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, and hired the first-ever Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer. Under Mason’s leadership, MusiCares raised and distributed over $24 million to assist struggling artists during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
“We are delighted that Harvey will remain at the helm and continue to steer the organization through this pivotal time,” search committee co-chairs John Burk and Leslie Ann Jones said in a joint statement. “As we journeyed deeper into our extensive search, it became clear that the best person for the job was Harvey. We are immensely impressed by the remarkable work he has done during his interim tenure and look forward to the continued evolution of the Academy under his effective, results-driven leadership.”

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Date: 14 May 2021
Author: Allison Hussey, Madison Bloom

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