Alanis Morissette has come forward to explain that encountering sexism was what caused her to drop out of a performance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony Saturday night, where she was to have performed a duet with Olivia Rodrigo of the classic hit “You’re So Vain” as part of a tribute to inductee Carly Simon.
Morissette did participate in rehearsals on Friday before taking her leave. In a post on her Instagram Live account, Morissette left some mystery as to precisely what soured her so much during those rehearsals as to have her exiting the show at seemingly the last minute, after being listed on all the in-house schedules for the epic show right up to Saturday night’s filming.
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But Morissette strongly indicated that whatever she encountered while she was still on-site brought up long-simmering feelings about “an overarching anti-woman sentiment” in the industry. And she seemed to place blame at the foot of the telecast’s production team, suggesting that whatever she experienced there stood in contrast to “countless incredible experiences with production teams with all genders throughout my life.”
There are differing accounts behind the scenes of just what went wrong during the rehearsal, though, as multiple sources are contending, for their part, that Morissette “struggled with the song” during a run-through, leading to the discord and ultimate walkout.
Sources close to Morissette dispute that assessment, saying that Morissette and Rodrigo were in the normal, initial stages of working out the tune together with the house band on Friday.
Morissette issued her statement on her Instagram account Monday, which reads as follows:
“There are some misinformed rumblings about my not performing at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony this past weekend. Firstly, I have to say how much I adore Carly Simon and Olivia Rodrigo and Dolly Parton and Janet Jackson and Pat Benatar and Sheryl Crow and Pink and Brandi Carlile and Sara Bareilles — and all the amazing people and artists who were there,” she wrote, name-checking most of the female artists who were honored, presented or performed on the show. (Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox was also among the night’s performing inductees.)
However, Morissette continued, “I have spent decades in an industry that is rife with an overarching anti-woman sentiment and have tolerated a lot of condescension and disrespectfulness, reduction, dismissiveness, contract-breaching, unsupportiveness, exploitation and psychological violence (and more) throughout my career. I tolerated it because nothing would stop me from connecting with those who I cared about and resonated with. I live to serve and connect with people and so over the years I sucked it up on more occasions than I can count in order to do so. It’s hard not to be affected in any industry around the world, but Hollywood has been notorious for its disrespect of the feminine in all of us.”
In conclusion, the singer-songwriter added, “Thankfully, I am at a point in my life where there is no need for me to spend time in an environment that reduces women. I have had countless incredible experiences with production teams with all genders throughout my life. So many, and so fun. There is nothing better than a team of diverse people coming together with one mission. I’ll continue to show up in those environments with bells on. :)”
Morissette tagged her statement with one last topical reminder: “Voting time! I love you.”
The induction ceremony was being filmed at L.A.’s Microsoft Theatre for broadcast on HBO later in November.
Most of the audience was unaware that Morissette was scheduled to appear alongside Rodrigo, as no official lineup had been announced. Still, the subtleties of the timing in the Simon tribute may have seemed odd. The musical performance (which did not include the stage-shy Simon herself) started with Sara Bareilles singing a very truncated version of the hit “Nobody Does It Better,” one of the many abridgements that took place in order to fit medleys into tight time slots. However, Rodrigo’s version of “You’re So Vain” went on at greater length than “Nobody” or most of the other solo performances of songs that were being squeezed into the show.
Variety has reached out to reps for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for any official response to Morissette’s assertions. The Hall’s representatives did not respond to requests for comment on the singer’s exit over the weekend.
The singer’s statement made it clear that her beef was not with her planned duet partner, Rodrigo. The intergenerational performers have some happy history of mutual support behind them, as they participated in a Rolling Stone “Musicians on Musicians” conversation just over a year ago and, more recently, Rodrigo inducted Morissette into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in September.
If it had gone off, the Rodrigo/Morissette duet would have been one of the most high-profile pairings of the night, and of the edited telecast that will go out on HBO Nov. 19. As it stood, the Hall of Fame show did have the duo of Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp paying tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis to close out the long night and, most notably, an extended salute to Dolly Parton that included Brandi Carlile, Pink, Sheryl Crow, the Zac Brown Band, Eurythmics, Simon Le Bon and Rob Halford all joining the country legend on stage.
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