Though convicted sex trafficker and disgraced entertainer R. Kelly may be sitting in a federal jail cell in New York right now, to let his most diehard fans tell it, that conviction doesn’t and shouldn’t take away from his many years of accolades and accomplishments he’s garnered throughout his musical career. Chief among them are the three Grammys he won in 1997 for his hit song “I Believe I Can Fly,” awards that have recently been the center of online chatter thanks to rumors that they may be taken away following his recent conviction.
While a decision on whether or not to officially rescind Kelly’s Grammys has yet to be made, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. says it’s definitely something they’re “going to need to take a good, hard look at” before making any moves.
“I think it’s something that we’re going to need to take a good hard look at, have a lot of conversations about, work through and make a decision,” Mason said, per the Chicago Sun-Times, calling Kelly’s actions “disturbing.”
He continued: “But right now, I think it’s something that is going to take a little bit more consideration before we can really dictate or decide. My initial feeling is we’re probably not a business that we want to be in of taking people’s awards back after they’ve been given. But we’ll take a good look at it and see.”
Additionally, per ABC News, Mason also shared his thoughts on cancel culture and his hope for the Academy to become a place to educate artists and musicians on a variety of topics such as diversity, inclusion, race relations and LGBTQ+ issues.
“Cancel culture has a purpose in the sense that there is a need for change and accountability, and I respect that,” he explained. “But conversely, I’m not a fan of casting somebody out on a rumor or on somebody’s word without a real investigation or without real information. And that’s really my stance.”
He added, “There’s an opportunity to educate people to use music or maybe their platform or the stage of our show to shine a light on things that could be done better or done differently in regards to some of the contentious issues that we’ve had in our country and in our community. So I’m definitely looking forward to tackling some of that. I know it’s a little sticky. I might get beat up over it, but I’m definitely going to try it.”