Recording Academy CEO pays tribute to Nova victims at 2024 Grammys

Singer and influencer Montana Tucker arrives for the 66th Annual Grammy Awards at the Arena in Los Angeles on February 4, 2024, wearing a dress with a yellow ribbon meant to call attention to the Israeli hostages in Gaza. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

(JTA) — An influencer who traveled to Israel to bear witness after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack walked the red carpet at the Grammys on Sunday night in a dress meant to call attention to the Israelis who remain hostages in Gaza.

And the CEO of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr., paid tribute during the awards ceremony to the hundreds of victims of the attack at the Nova music festival, heeding a call made last week by the CEO of the American Jewish Committee.

“Music must be our safe space. When that’s violated, it strikes at the very core of who we are,” Mason said from the stage at the awards ceremony, held at the Arena in Los Angeles. He proceeded to name other fatal attacks at concerts or music festivals. “We felt that at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. We felt that at the Manchester Arena in England. We felt that at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas. And, on Oct. 7, we felt that again, when we heard the tragic news from the Supernova Music Festival for Love, that over 360 music fans lost their lives and another 40 were kidnapped.”

Some survivors of the Nova festival, a trance festival held at a kibbutz just miles from the Gaza border that underwent hours of assault by Hamas terrorists, likened their experience to the Holocaust.

Mason concluded, “That day and all the tragic days that have followed have been awful for the world to bear as we mourn the loss of all innocent lives.”

Mason did not name Israel, Gaza or Hamas in his comments, one of several times when the four-month Israel-Hamas war played a role at the music awards ceremony.

Some attendees were reportedly delayed by pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrating outside the ceremony.

Social media influencer Montana Tucker’s dress featured a large yellow ribbon at its center, in a nod to the more than 100 Israelis who have been held hostage in Gaza since Oct. 7. Tucker, who is Jewish, visited Israel in December, one of a number of influencers to do so, and organized a flash mob there with a survivor of the Nova festival.

And singer Annie Lennox called for a ceasefire during a tribute to Sinead O’Connor, the Irish singer who died last year.

“Artists for ceasefire! Peace in the world!” Lennox shouted during her performance. The Scottish performer of “Sweet Dreams” was one of hundreds of artists to petition President Joe Biden in favor of an immediate ceasefire in December.

The ceremony comes a month after a handful of attendees wore yellow ribbons to the Golden Globes award ceremony, following an advocacy effort by families of hostages.

The hostage family movement did not publicly make a push for displays of support at the Grammys, but AJC CEO Ted Deutch had done so, urging the Recording Academy to call attention to the Nova victims. He thanked the academy for Mason’s tribute in a statement.

“While our hearts continue to ache for those who were lost, we take comfort in tonight’s stirring tribute,” Deutch said. “Music can be a great source of healing.”

Deutch’s request was not the only one made of the Recording Academy on behalf of Jews this year. A number of Jewish artists are also urging the group to introduce an award for best Jewish music, akin to the one for Christian music that already exists.

Taylor Swift and the pop trio Boygenius were the big winners during the awards ceremony, but the Jewish producer Jack Antonoff — who once wore a Jewish star necklace to another awards ceremony — took home the prize for producer of the year, non-classical. Noah Kahan, a Jewish singer songwriter who became known on TikTok, was nominated but did not win best new artist.

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