(CNN) - The call for Recording Academy president Neil Portnow to step down reached a fever pitch on Thursday when prominent women in the music industry issued a letter demanding sweeping changes.
More than 20 female artists and female music executives penned a letter, a copy of which was published by Variety, calling for Portnow's resignation.
"We step up every single day and have been doing so for a long time. The fact that you don't realize this means it's time for you to step down," the letter reads. "Today we are stepping up and stepping in to demand your resignation."
NBC News reported on Thursday evening that a final copy of the letter will be "released soon."
Variety questioned Portnow on the lack female representation after Sunday's Grammys when #GrammysSoMale trended in reference to the lack of female winners.
He told the publication that female artists need to "step up."
"It has to begin with... women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level," he said. "[They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome."
Portnow later walked back the comment in a statement provided to CNN.
"Regrettably, I used two words, 'step up,' that, when taken out of context, do not convey my beliefs and the point I was trying to make," he said in the statement issued on Tuesday.
But by then, it was too late.
Thursday's letter was released minutes after Portnow announced a new task force at the Recording Academy with the aim to promote "female advancement."
"Your attempt to backpedal only emphasizes your refusal to recognize us and our achievements. Your most recent remarks do not constitute recognition of women's achievements, but rather a call for men to take action to 'welcome' women," the letter read.
Portnow did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.