The Grammys being super white is nothing new, but Adele beating out Beyoncé in every category is a pretty blatant reminder of that fact. And according to Victor Willis, the original Village People singer, the Grammys actually have a secret committee to override votes for black artists.
In a letter he sent to the President Of The Recording Academy, TMZ reports, Willis claims that the committee exists to “override the decision of Grammy voters in the event the select committee does not like who the Grammy voter has chosen” for the top four awards. “The question is how many African Americans are on that committee?” he asks. “If certain people at the Grammys don’t like who the voters have chosen, a Grammy committee will simply override the voters and subsequently select who they think should win. Like Adele, maybe?”
According to TMZ, there is a committee designed to “knock out embarrassing nominations,” like Milli Vanilli, but once the nominations are locked, voters do have the final say.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for the Recording Academy has issued the following statement:
The Recording Academy has always been completely upfront and transparent about the fact that we have had Nominations Review Committees since 1989, which are made up of GRAMMY voting members. These committees have absolutely no say over the final ballot and do not determine the actual GRAMMY winners. The full 13,000 voting members of The Recording Academy chose the GRAMMY winner for Album Of The Year, as the result of a democratic, one-person, one-vote system.
The committees were introduced in the first place to help level the playing field and provide independent, emerging and lesser known artists with greater opportunities for inclusion.
The reason that the committee members’ names are not disclosed is to ensure fairness and neutrality. If their identities were made public, they could be lobbied. This is a safeguard to protect the integrity of the process.