Longtime Grammy executive producer Ken Ehrlich will step down from his role following the 2020 ceremony, the Recording Academy announced Wednesday. Late Late Show With James Corden executive producer Ben Winston will take over Music’s Biggest Night beginning in 2021.
The 62nd annual Grammys in 2020 will mark Ehrlich’s 40th anniversary at the helm of the award telecast.
“To have been a part of the growth of the Grammy Awards into the preeminent music awards show of our time has been one of the highlights of my professional life, and I’m grateful to the Recording Academy and to our partners at CBS for their support and for trusting my vision over the past four decades,” Ehrlich said in a statement.
“I have also been the happy recipient of having an incredible group of people who have worked on the show over the years, and of course the most amazing cadre of musical artists who bring their own creativity and brilliance to the Grammy stage year after year.”
Outgoing Recording Academy CEO/President Neil Portnow added in a statement, “Ken’s imprint on the Grammy Awards and the music industry are well-known and represent the kind of work and vision that legends are made of. Having worked closely with Ken for almost half of his tenure with the show, I have seen first-hand the vision, extraordinary musical knowledge, and passion he brings to every minute of the process, and the spectacular results and memorable Grammy Moments that have been delivered. It’s an honor to celebrate his 40th anniversary with the Grammys.”
Ehrlich’s Grammy tenure created conflict in recent years as the executive producer drew the ire of artists like Lorde, Frank Ocean – who called Grammy producers “old” – and Ariana Grande, who skipped the 2019 ceremony after Ehrlich made her feel “creatively stifled“; the singer accused the producer of not allowing her to choose what music she would perform at the Grammys.
Ehrlich responded to Grande’s claims in an interview with Rolling Stone, “I will say this, and they don’t want me to say it but I’m going to say it: The thing that probably bothered me more than whatever else she said about me is when she said I’m not collaborative.”
“The fact of the matter is — and I actually wrote a little thing in the middle of the night that I’m not going to do anything about, but, I mean. You can ask Christina Aguilera, who I asked to do ‘It’s a Man’s World’ for James Brown,” Ehrlich added. “You can ask Melissa Etheridge, who finished her cancer treatment and I put her out on stage, bald, doing Janis Joplin. You can ask Ricky Martin who overnight became the creator of the Latin music revolution. Ask Mary J. Blige, who was scared shitless to go out there and do ‘No More Drama.’ I basically worked with her to mold it. Ask H.E.R. who’s in this show.”
With Ehrlich leaving in 2020, it will fall on Winston to reestablish ties with the growing number of artists that have skipped the ceremony in recent years. The executive producer and “Carpool Karaoke” co-creator has some experience in the Grammy arena as James Corden hosted the ceremony in both 2017 and 2018.
“It’s an absolute honor to be executive producer of the Grammys for 2021,” Winston said in a statement. “I feel excitement and nerves in equal measure on taking on this role, but mostly I feel immense gratitude to the Recording Academy for this wonderful opportunity. I also want to salute Ken, who has done an absolutely remarkable job over the last 40 years.”
Ehrlich added, “I want to wish my successor Ben the best as he assumes the executive producer role. I am confident that his abilities in all aspects of production will both ensure the legacy of the Grammy Awards and also instill a new creative direction for the show.”