"Sunday night, I was asked a question about the lack of female artist representation in certain categories of this year's Grammy Awards. Regrettably, I used two words, 'step up,' that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make," Portnow said in a statement to Variety.
"Our industry must recognize that women who dream of careers in music face barriers that men have never faced," he continued. "We must actively work to eliminate these barriers and encourage women to live their dreams and express their passion and creativity through music. We must welcome, mentor, and empower them. Our community will be richer for it. I regret that I wasn't as articulate as I should have been in conveying this thought. I remain committed to doing everything I can to make our music community a better, safer, and more representative place for everyone."
The statement comes two days after the Recording Academy president's original "step up" comments only added fuel to the #GrammysSoMale fire that erupted after Alessia Cara was the only woman to win a solo award during Sunday night's broadcast. (Rihanna accepted an award she shared with Kenrick Lamar.) After Portnow's "step up" comments backstage, several prominent women in the industry, including Pink and Halsey, stepped up with statements of their own.
"Neil's comment was absurd," Halsey tweeted. "Female artists came HARD in 2017, but the nominees are selected by peers and their opinion of the music, which means it's a conversation about the standards of which the ENTIRE INDUSTRY expects women to uphold."
"Women have been stepping up since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside," Pink tweeted. "When we celebrate and honor the talent and accomplishments of women, and how much women STEP UP every year against all odds, we show the next generation of women and girls and boys and men what it means to be equal, and what it looks like to be fair."
When asked Sunday night about the dearth of female nominees and winners, Portnow said, "I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls -- who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on an executive level -- to step up, because I think they would be welcome."