Fiona Apple may have delivered one of last year’s most buzzed-about albums, but she won’t be making an appearance at the 2021 Grammy Awards despite her nominations.
In a video posted to friend Zelda Hallman’s social media accounts, Apple explained why she was opting out of Sunday’s ceremony shortly before it was announced that she’d won Best Alternative Music Album for “Fetch the Bolt Cutters.”
“I don’t want to be on national television,” the singer said in the clip. “I’m just not made for that kind of stuff anymore. I want to stay sober, and I can’t do that sober. It doesn’t feel safe to me to be in that kind of exposure, scrutiny, comparison to people. ... I don’t want to do it, so I’m not doing it.”
Apple said she hopes “everybody who’s into the Grammys has a wonderful time watching them,” then used the moment as an opportunity to draw attention to a cause she feels passionate about.
“There’s been lots of questions about the transparency of the Grammys, and I feel like that’s important but it’s not important,” she said. “I care but I don’t care. What really, really is undeniably important is the transparency in actual court rooms.”
Apple concluded the clip by urging fans to sign a petition to keep virtual access to courts open, particularly in Maryland’s Prince George’s County, where she serves as a court watcher.
“There’s people who are being held pretrial on nonviolent charges on bonds they can’t afford, or on no bond,” she said. “It’s ruining families and fucking with futures that we need to help protect.”
In 2020, Apple received near-unanimous praise from fans and critics for “Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” her first studio album in eight years. In addition to the album’s early Grammy win, lead single “Shameika” is up for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance.
Though Apple has been nominated for 11 Grammys over the course of her career, and won two, she’s made no secret of her disdain for traditional accolades. Her semi-impromptu speech at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards remains one of the event’s most infamous moments in its 37-year history.
“This world is bullshit,” she said after picking up the award for Best New Artist at the time. “And you shouldn’t model your life about what you think that we think is cool and what we’re wearing and what we’re saying and everything. Go with yourself.”
Though Apple initially drew the ire of critics and fellow entertainers, her speech has been reevaluated in recent years. “None of her critics denied that what Apple had said was true,” journalist Joseph Earl wrote in 2020. “They just got angry with Apple for saying it.”