The Weeknd Photo by Eli Christoph

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — Despite last Friday’s announcement of multiple changes to the Grammy Awards, most notably eliminating the “secret” nomination-review committees, top R&B star The Weeknd announced this week that he will continue to withhold his music from consideration for any Grammy awards. However he did call the moves “an important start,” in a statement that was carried in multiple entertainment publications and on various websites.

The end of the committees, as well as other changes to the process, are widely viewed as some of the biggest changes in how the Recording Academy selects Grammys in decades. The committees were considered the main reason why The Weeknd was shut out of all nominations for the 2021 awards even though he had the most streamed single of the year, “Blinding Lights,” and one of the biggest albums, “After Hours.”

“The trust has been broken for so long between the Grammy organization and artists that it would be unwise to raise a victory flag,” The Weeknd said to Variety.  “I think the industry and public alike need to see the transparent system truly at play for the win to be celebrated, but it’s an important start,” he continued. “I remain uninterested in being a part of the Grammys, especially with their own admission of corruption for all these decades. I will not be submitting in the future.”

His manager, Wassim “Sal” Slaiby, added, “No change comes without a voice heard. I’m just proud of Abel for standing up for what he believes in. I was in a shock when all this happened but now I see it clearly, and I’m glad we stood for our beliefs.”

Interim Grammy chief Harvey Mason Jr. told Variety last Friday he had been working to eliminate the committees for months before the Weeknd snub. He didn’t say whether that played a role in the decision, but did add that “any time an artist, especially one of that stature, calls our process into question or thinks something is unfair… the Academy is of course going to be affected by that, and want to work to make things better.”

While the Weeknd hailed the elimination of the Grammy nomination-review committees, he said there were more important issues for the music industry to confront. “The industry can keep stepping up to share their revenue to help those in need in various situations and to support the marginalized communities who create and buy the music they sell,” he added. “We have seen some movement there and I expect and encourage even more. I care about making music that people love and helping where I can. Right now my concern is what’s happening in my home country of Ethiopia and I encourage people to be aware of what is happening and donate where they can.”

He concluded by saying he’s completed a possible album he recorded during lockdown. Asked how that music might be different from “After Hours,” he said: “If the last record is the after hours of the night, then the dawn is coming.”