Push is on to raise sexual misconduct awareness at Grammys

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Key executives have called on artists and employees to wear a white rose on Sunday in support of Time’s Up as the Grammys celebrate its 60th anniversary with a ceremony in New York City.

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The music industry hasn’t been rocked with as many public allegations of sexual misconduct as Hollywood, but insiders are still seeking to show solidarity with the Me Too movement on its biggest night.

Key executives have called on artists and employees to wear a white rose on Sunday in support of Time’s Up as the Grammys celebrate its 60th anniversary with a ceremony in New York City. The Time’s Up organization was formed by key Hollywood celebrities and executives including Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes and America Ferrera, and most stars wore black and a Time’s Up pin in support of the movement at the Golden Globes earlier this month.

Among those artists who have already confirmed they will wear the rose on Sunday include Dua Lipa and Halsey, who read an emotional poem detailing sexual abuse at the Women’s March in New York City on Saturday. More names are expected to be released Thursday.

“We have not had the tsunami that politics and Hollywood has had, but we are still women,” Meg Harkins, senior vice president of marketing at Roc Nation and one of the people behind the Time’s Up push at the Recording Academy ceremony, told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

“I would want to see men and women wearing white roses and I would like men and women to be able to have meaningful Grammy Award speeches when those speeches happen.”

After the Globes, Harkins was commiserating with fellow industry executive Karen Rait, head of rhythm promotions at Interscope/Geffen/A&M records, about what could be done at the Grammys.

“We all agreed it was really necessary,” Harkins said. “We’ve all felt the political and cultural change in the last couple of months.”

The women gathered others for a meeting Monday, and by Wednesday sent out an initial email urging people to wear a white rose and also noted that Rapsody, the only woman nominated for best rap album, would be doing so.

“We choose the white rose because historically it stands for hope, peace, sympathy and resistance,” the email said. “Please let us know if we can add your name to our list of supporters. The world is listening.”

In a matter of hours, there were hundreds of people who had confirmed, said Harkins. The push was buoyed by the support of the co-chairs at Atlantic Records, Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman. Greenwald sent the missive out to staff members, a representative for the label confirmed.

“They have really encouraged not only their artists but also their employees to sign,” Harkins said.

The white rose was chosen in part because it could be done quickly but also because the color has been long used as part of the women’s suffragette movement; Hillary Clinton wore white when she accepted the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

“It’s not just a visual cue to feel empowered; it’s about actually giving money toward women who need the help,” said Harkins.

Time’s Up is not only trying to raise awareness about sexual harassment but also money for a legal defense fund for people in all industries battling sexual misconduct. Over $15 million has already been raised.

Music mogul Russell Simmons is perhaps the biggest industry name accused of sexual misconduct; former Epic label head L.A. Reid has also faced accusations. But compared with film, TV or even politics, the scandals have been relatively few in music, causing many to ask when the reckoning will come to that industry.

“It’s a legitimate question. I don’t know the answer,” said Harkins. She added: “If and when it comes, we want to be super-proactive. … We are being loud in our voices before a crisis, so we can avert a crisis.”

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