NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards will take place on Sunday surrounded by controversy that erupted over the past two weeks.
Former CEO Deborah Dugan filed a formal complaint that the voting process for the Grammys is rigged, and that there's a culture of sexism, sexual harassment, and racism within the Recording Academy.
The allegations come at the same time that Dugan was placed on leave for allegedly creating a toxic and intolerable work environment, and the Recording Academy denied Dugan's claims when asked for comment on the matter.
The situation and controversy spurred conversation within the music community, including past winners and nominees who are questioning what's happening within the Recording Academy.
One of those musicians is LynnMarie, who has been nominated five times for the Grammy Award for Best Polka Album.
“Nobody ever says, ‘Oh I Polkaed once and I hated it.’ It’s fun, happy music, it makes people happy," LynnMarie said of the genre.
LynnMarie started playing the accordion and Polka music when she was 11-years-old and eventually moved to Nashville where she met Chet Atkins who encouraged her to bring Polka to the masses.
She put out an album in 2000 that earned her a Grammy nomination, and the honor of being the first woman ever to be nominated for Best Polka Album.
But LynnMarie's album released the following year wasn't nominated. She inquired why, and what the head of the voting committee said shocked her.
“He made it clear that he personally did not think I deserved even my first nomination, and he made it very clear that he had a mentor/protégé relationship with someone else that was nominated. And when he hung up the phone, I remember thinking, I can’t believe this is how this works," LynnMarie recalled.
That situation is one that former CEO Deborah Dugan alleged.
In addition to sexual harassment and gender bias in the Recording Academy, she said the voting process is "illustrative of the boys' club mentality" and that sometimes artists who are nominated or their friends are in the room and allowed to vote for their own interests and sway others.
It's something that LynnMarie hasn't been in the room for, but something she hopes will change if true.
“It makes me sad. Because as an artist you spend your whole life trying to create music that you want the world to hear, and you do the best job you can and you hope that if it’s coming down to being judged by people you admire in this business that are in that room," LynnMarie said, adding that she also believes that as in many other industries, there are biases against women. “I’m a woman, I try to make great music. Do I feel like at times it’s not appreciated as much as a mans? Probably. Is that the way it is? Yeah. Is my job just to continue to create great music? Yeah.”
Regardless of the truth, which LynnMarie believes may never come to light, she hopes that these allegations from Dugan will spur change both within the Recording Academy and the industry as a whole, because deep down she loves what the Recording Academy stands for, and she has the utmost respect for her fellow musicians, and the Award itself.
“I get choked up because it kind of makes me feel like I did something good that people appreciated and recognized," LynnMarie said of her Grammy nominations.
The category for Best Polka Album and 48 others were eliminated or consolidated in 2010, and LynnMarie also hopes the Recording Academy will consider bringing those categories back so that music in less popular categories can still be acknowledged.
The Grammy Awards air on NewsChannel 5 on Sunday, and it's unclear if any of the artists plan to address the controversy during the show or on the red carpet.