2021 Rock Hall ballot boasts record 7 women: Tina Turner, Carole King, Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush and more
Dionne Warwick, Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, New York Dolls, Iron Maiden, Fela Kuti and Todd Rundgren are also on the ballot
After years of often slighting female artists, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame executed a major and welcome about-face with Wednesday’s announcement of its 2021 nominees for induction.
The ballot includes Tina Turner, Carole King, Mary J. Blige, The Go-Go’s, Dionne Warwick, Kate Bush and Chaka Khan. Together, these seven veteran performers represent the highest number of female nominees on one ballot in the history of the hall, which has been criticized in the past for the almost-constant dominance of male artists over women as both nominees and inductees.
Since the hall’s first induction ceremony was held in 1986, it has inducted 819 male artists and only 69 women, according to a study conducted in early 2020. This year’s ballot suggests the hall is seeking to start making amends, although being nominated is no guarantee of earning enough votes for induction. (The pioneering disco group Chic was nominated 11 times between 2003 and 2017, the last year its name appeared on the ballot.)
The other 2021 nominees, announced Wednesday morning, include Jay-Z, Rage Against the Machine, Afro-Beat pioneer Fela Kuti (who died in 1997), Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden, Devo, LL Cool J (who has been nominated five times before), the New York Dolls and Todd Rundgren, whose “Clearly Human Virtual Live Tour” includes a March 16 San Diego concert that will be livestreamed from Chicago.
“This remarkable ballot reflects the diversity and depth of the artists and music the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame celebrates” said John Sykes, the Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, in a statement released Wednesday.
“These nominees have left an indelible impact on the sonic landscape of the world and influenced countless artists that have followed them.”
Artists become eligible for induction into the hall 25 years after the release of their first recording under their own name. But stardom is no guarantee their names will appear on the ballot or that they will be inducted.
Until now, Stevie Nicks is the only female artist to be inducted into the hall twice: Once as a member of Fleetwood Mac and again as a solo artist. With this year’s ballot, King and Turner could become, respectively, the second and third female artists to be inducted for a second time.
King, who was inducted in 1990 as a songwriter, is nominated this year in the performance category. Her breakthrough solo album, “Tapestry,” was released 50 years ago and has been cited as a major inspiration by everyone from Taylor Swift to Brandi Carlile.
Turner, who was inducted in 1991 as a pivotal member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, is now nominated as a solo artist. The enormously influential singer released her first album on her own, “Tina Turner Turns the Country On,” in 1974. Her commercial breakthrough as a solo artist came a decade later with 1984’s chart-topping “Private Dancer.”
Seven of this year’s 16 nominees are on the ballot for the first time. They include: King (as a performer), Turner (as a solo artist), Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, JAY-Z, Warwick and Fela Kuti. Warwick, who released her first record in 1962, has been eligible for the ballot for the past four decades.
Inductees will be announced in May. The 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held in Cleveland, where the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 1995. Details and ticket on-sale information will be announced.
Ballots are cast by an international voting body of more than 1,000 artists, historians, music industry members and critics, including this writer. Among the factors voters consider are “an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique,” according to a statement issued by the hall.
Fans can participate in the induction selection process with the Fan Vote, which starts today and runs through April 30. Fans can vote daily at voterockhall.com or in person at the Museum in Cleveland. The top five artists selected by the public will comprise a “fans’ ballot.” These votes will be tallied, along with the other ballots, to select the 2021 inductees.
Because of the coronavrius pandemic, the hall’s 2020 induction ceremony was the first to be held virtually, rather than in person. The inductees included the band Nine Inch Nails, whose 32-year-old drummer, San Diego native Ilan Rubin, became the youngest musician ever inducted into the hall.
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