Days before Grammys, academy shakes up leadership over 'allegation of misconduct'

Deborah Dugan announces nominations for the 2020 Grammy Awards in New York, Nov 20, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - The organisers of the Grammy Awards have removed their new president and chief executive after an allegation of misconduct, leaving the organisation in disarray 10 days before the annual music industry showcase.

While saying that the Jan 26 awards show in Los Angeles will go ahead as planned, the Recording Academy on Thursday announced that chief executive officer Deborah Dugan has been placed on immediate administrative leave.

The move comes just five months after Dugan took the helm as the organisation's first female president and pledged to bring more diversity to the group.

No details were given regarding the allegation but Dugan's lawyer said in a statement: "What has been reported is not nearly the story that needs to be told. When our ability to speak is not restrained by a 28-page contract and legal threats, we will expose what happens when you 'step up' at the Recording Academy, a public nonprofit."

The Recording Academy, whose members choose the Grammy winners, said in its statement that its board had placed Dugan on administrative leave "in light of concerns raised to the board of trustees, including a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member of the Recording Academy team."

Entertainment trade publication Variety on Friday cited unidentified sources describing the move as a "coup" by veterans who did not like her promised changes to the organisation.

Dugan took over from former Grammy chief Neil Portnow who in 2018 had provoked outrage by telling reporters that female artists and producers needed to "step up" if they wanted recognition in the music industry.

The Recording Academy in December said it would double the number of female voters by 2025 by adding 2,500 more women.

This year's Grammy nominations were dominated by women, including newcomers Lizzo and Billie Eilish. They will both perform on the Grammy stage on Jan 26 along with the likes of Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello and Gwen Stefani.

The Recording Academy it had retained two independent third-party investigators had been retained to look into the alleged misconduct that led to Dugan being placed on leave.

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