Whitney Houston among six Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees

Whitney Houston among six Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees
(Reuters) – Late superstar Whitney Houston and five other artists and bands, living and dead – and representing a wide range of musical genres, including pop, electronica and rap – were unveiled on Wednesday as this year’s inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

FILE PHOTO: One of the Arista record label albums by late singer Whitney Houston is pictured during a press preview of the new exhibit “Whitney! Celebrating The Musical Legacy of Whitney Houston”, at The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, California August 15, 2012. Grammy award winning singer Houston was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel room on February 11, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Also entering the Rock Hall in its 35th annual induction ceremony will be 1970s mainstream bands the Doobie Brothers and T.Rex, 1980s techno rockers Depeche Mode, murdered hip-hop artist The Notorious B.I.G. and industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails.

The six 2020 inductees were selected from among 16 bands and musicians nominated by a committee in October. More than 1,000 artists, rock historians and members of the music industry cast ballots to pick the winners, the Rock Hall said.

Four of this year’s class — Houston, the Doobie Brothers, Notorious B.I.G. and T.Rex — were on the ballot for the first time.

The Cleveland-based Rock Hall will make the inductions official on May 2 with a televised ceremony featuring yet-to-be named special guests after a weeklong celebration.

Also honored were rock journalist Jon Landau and entertainment industry powerhouse Irving Azoff, who were selected for the Rock Hall’s Ahmet Ertegun Award.

Landau may be best known for his clairvoyant review of a 1974 Boston-area concert by a then-struggling Bruce Springsteen that said: “I saw rock and roll’s future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” He became Springsteen’s co-producer for the next 18 years.

Azoff has been a concert promoter, record label owner and music publisher, and his namesake company manages a stable of rock bands and other entertainment figures.

Houston, the “I Will Always Love You” singer who ranks as one of the most successful female recording stars of all time, died in 2012 after drowning in a hotel bathroom at age 48. The Notorious B.I.G., who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997, had hits that included “Juicy,” “Big Poppa,” and “Warning.”

The Doobie Brothers, whose music often mixed rock and country, emerged in the 1970s with hits that included “Listen to the Music,” “Long Train Runnin’” and “China Grove.” T.Rex also found success in the 1970s as a psychedelic folk-rock band with hits such as “Jeepster” and “Cosmic Dancer.”

Depeche Mode emerged in the post-punk late 1980s with electronica music that included “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy the Silence.” Nine Inch Nails found success in the 1990s with industrial rock hits, including “Closer” and “Hurt.”

Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis

02
41 Women Who Should Be In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
So why isn’t Dolly Parton in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Fairfax Media Archives/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Fairfax Media Archives/Getty Images
So why isn’t Dolly Parton in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Fairfax Media Archives/Getty Images
The latest round of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions were announced today, and Whitney Houston is the only woman honored. This visible problem offers yet another chance to decry the gender imbalance within Cleveland’s canonizing institution, an inequity that’s been reported again and again, most powerfully by my friend and colleague Evelyn McDonnell, who crunched some numbers recently and came up with a staggeringly low percent of representation for women.

Since feminists began throwing light on this subject, many have made lists of potential women inductees, but perhaps these efforts haven’t gone far enough. In the spirit of aggressively pointing out the obvious, here’s a playlist list of women who could be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, consisting (mostly) of artists who issued debut recordings in every year represented by the inductions so far. You’ll note that this challenges narrow definitions of rock and roll — which is exactly what needs to happen, and is happening, as the Hall strives to remain relevant and historically accurate. Women have long expanded frameworks that otherwise wouldn’t accommodate them. Gender balance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame solves more than just a simple numbers problem – as diversity in practice always does.

You can stream this playlist via Spotify or Apple Music.

Julie London: The artist who connected torch singing to teen angst, Julie London has influenced everyone from Annie Lennox to Lana Del Rey. She made Justin Timberlake cry a river, why isn’t she in the Hall?

Janis Martin: The “My Boy Elvis” singer is too often classified as a novelty, but her chops and verve make her just as representative of rock’s first generation as peers like Presley or Gene Vincent.

Patsy Cline: Never simply confined to the country genre, the legendary Cline showed both the raw emotion and willingness to transcend musical boundaries that rock and roll supposedly pioneered.

Connie Francis: The top singles artist of the late 1950s, Francis embodied teenage girls’ yearnings – the rocket fuel that made rock and roll run – but was, for too long, considered too “pop” for the Hall. Such distinctions make no sense in the era of Ariana Grande.

Carole King: “But she’s in as a songwriter (in partnership with her ex-husband, Gerry Goffin)!” That weak argument has stood between King and the placement she rightly deserves for too long. Tapestry is one of the biggest-selling albums of all time and the definitive emotional soundtrack for countless women and men of the baby boom. The most egregious omission, many would say.

Miriam Makeba: The Hall needs to expand its scope in many ways, including internationally. Makeba connected Africa to the West and still stands as the founding figure of the mutable category of “world music.” Plus, that majestic voice.

Carla Thomas: If you believe in Memphis, you believe in Carla Thomas. The signature female voice of the time and place that made Elvis possible.

Barbra Streisand: Inducting La Barbra would make great strides in eradicating the prejudices against pop that long concealed sexism and, to some extent, racist tendencies within the Hall. (Disco is black music, friends.) Gaga’s revival of A Star Is Born reminded people that Barbra showed how Hollywood glam and rock excess could combine in the 1970s, and she remains one of America’s most charismatic stars.

Dolly Parton OR Loretta Lynn: Just choose one. They both changed much more than country music. They changed the way Southern women, all American women really, could speak their minds.

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Folk’s first leading woman artist, alongside Odetta, Buffy Sainte-Marie was also a pioneer in the studio, recording the first album to employ quadraphonic vocals, and one of the first synth-driven albums, with 1969’s Illuminations. A fearless voice that must be more widely acknowledged.

Astrud Gilberto: Brazilian music hugely influenced American soul, jazz and – yes – rock in the 1960s and 1970s, and no voice conveyed its elastic sense of time and understanding of intimacy more gracefully than Gilberto’s. She’s much more than just the “Girl From Ipanema.”

Karen Carpenter: The queen of contemplative pop, whose reputation has been rehabilitated by young critics and musicians who understand the power in her soft approach, is as influential on current pop as any screaming rocker. She released her first single in 1966.

Sandy Denny: Besides defining English folk-rock in Fairport Convention and through her stunning solo work, Denny sang on Led Zeppelin’s “Battle of Evermore” and made a brief appearance on the Who’s Tommy. Her bold brilliance inspired 1970s rock queens like Ann Wilson of Heart and Stevie Nicks.

Emmylou Harris: The Hall came around to the truth about who really invented California country rock when it inducted Linda Ronstadt in 2014, but still hasn’t made room for Harris, an equal player in establishing the blend of roots and innovation at the heart of modern country and Americana music.

Roberta Flack: As the scholar Jason King has eloquently argued, Flack defined the driving force within what would become both quiet storm music and hip-hop soul: vibe. Her work in the 1970s and 1980s is as adventurous as Joni Mitchell’s and arguably as influential as Stevie Wonder’s.

Fanny: The first all-woman band to put out an album on a major label, Fanny captured the attention of important men like the Beatles and David Bowie, but its influence on these titans is rarely acknowledged.

Carly Simon: As witty a social commentator as Randy Newman and as heartfelt a memoirist as her most-gossiped-about husband James Taylor, Simon was the most glamorous Everywoman in an era when feminism and pop pushed each other into new territory.

Tanya Tucker: She’s currently enjoying a much-deserved revival that should get her into the Country Music Hall of Fame (at least!), but Tucker brought rock and roll spirit into country in new ways as a teen sensation and, later, an adult crossover star.

Valerie Simpson: This living deity of contemporary R&B should be inducted alongside her late husband, Nick Ashford: not only did they write classics like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” their own duets, especially “Solid,” made them the power couple in R&B for decades.

Pat Benatar: A people’s rocker who has also never shied away from artistic innovation or social commentary – remember her epic “Hell is for Children,” decrying child abuse? – Benatar was a favorite among fan voters this year.

Grace Jones: Mistaken by some as a disco diva, Jones is an artiste whose work explodes genre; her style marked the high point of New Wave. “Pull Up to the Bumper” funked the 1980s into a new phase.

The Runaways: Joan Jett got her due in 2015, but the band that brought her to prominence remains neglected, maybe due to longstanding prejudices against so-called “manufactured” groups. The women of the Runaways proved that it’s not how you begin but where you go that defines rock and roll spirit. For “Cherry Bomb” alone, the band deserves a spot.

Björk: The Icelandic experimentalist qualifies this early because of a childhood release few have heard. It’s tough to come up with a more original voice in late 20th-century popular music.

Kate Bush: Legendary in England since taking the island by storm in her teens, Bush quietly influenced a generation of American singer-songwriters who’d emerge a decade later as the Lilith Fair generation. Also, one of the first artists to extensively combine synthesizers and rock elements.

Lucinda Williams: The Americana subgenre wouldn’t exist without this Mississippi poet of the everyday, and no one rocks harder on songs like “Changed the Locks” and “Joy.”

The Weather Girls: A tough year to choose, since the all-woman band the Go-Go’s also qualify, but the duo that gave dance music its most potent injection of joy, with songs like “It’s Raining Men,” deserve a spot.

Eurythmics: Annie Lennox. One of the greatest voices popular music has known, with one of the most influential personae. Say no more.

Cocteau Twins:1982 was defined by mixed-gender bands from Sonic Youth to Everything But the Girl; Liz Fraser’s reinvention of language itself in this hard-to-categorize combo had the most impact.

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Cyndi Lauper: Lauper was the Everywoman we needed and a fearless songwriter tackling subjects like self-pleasure and self-determination for teenage girls.

Roxanne Shante: at fourteen, this kid from Queens turned the answer record into a foundational hip hop element and cemented her place in history.

Indigo Girls: Besides being an unstoppable generator of irresistible singalongs, this duo defined a path for LGBTQI musicians to sustain community while still making a mark on the pop charts.

Salt n Pepa: With Spinderella on the decks, the trio uniting Brooklyn and Queens brought rap to the millions and spoke up for women’s independence and sensuality in karaoke favorites like “Push It.”

Sinead O’Connor: One of the fiercest and most delicate souls to ever step into a recording studio, O’Connor remains unique, a true fusion artist who can make deeply personal observations universal.

Kylie Minogue: Melissa Etheridge also deserves a spot from this year, but if the Rock Hall truly wants to be international it should recognize Australia’s biggest pop star.

Queen Latifah: Newark’s unofficial mayor showed that a rapper could have serious chops, movie star appeal, and a wide-ranging sense of history as she grew to incorporate blues and jazz into her repertoire.

Mariah Carey: Carey is exactly the kind of high-gloss pop star the Hall once considered antithetical to its values. Time has revealed, however, that what some once dismissed as fluff, others took to heart as the soundtrack of their lives – and her diva charisma and astounding voice remain intact.

PJ Harvey: It’s a tough toss-up among Tori Amos, Polly Harvey and Alanis Morrissette – what a year this was! – but the English guitarist, songwriter and supreme howler grabbed rock so hard it changed shape, and so claims the spot.

Dixie Chicks: By the mid-1990s country was fully showing its rock roots again, and no one expressed the music’s fierce spirit of independence more powerfully than the Texas trio whose bold ways challenged the genre’s traditionalists in unprecedented ways. (Alternate pick: R&B queen Mary J. Blige, also a genre-changer.)

Sheryl Crow: Versatile, emotionally brilliant and an expert at songcraft, Crow has played by every rule the Hall sets own for qualification and won over and over.

Sleater-Kinney: How many women have started bands inspired by the joy and power the classic Northwest trio projects? Countless numbers.

Robyn: Turning dance music into singer-songwriterly autofiction and pop shine into an energy that defeats genre, Robyn ushered in a new century’s way of loving and making music.

03
BWW Review: WE WILL ROCK YOU is a Rock-Theatre Extravaganza!
BWW Review: WE WILL ROCK YOU is a Rock-Theatre Extravaganza!

Imagine you are in a venue with hundreds of people packed around you, swaying and singing along to the music of one of the greatest rock bands of all time. You turn to your left and bob your head to the beat of “I Want It All” and later on, scream the lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” with the woman on your right. This was just a snapshot of my experience seeing WE WILL ROCK YOU – a musical featuring the music of Queen and Ben Elton at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on January 11th. On it’s North American tour including more than 60 cities, WE WILL ROCK YOU played in Vancouver for 2 days before continuing onto the rest of its tour stops across Canada.

The plot of this musical was definitely different than a lot of the musicals I’ve seen in the past. Taking place hundreds of years into the future, we quickly learned that things were very regulated: music, clothing, ways of thinking, etc. The Earth was renamed as iPlanet and was controlled by a large corporation run by a woman called the “Killer Queen.” Rock music was lost in the past as digital computer music dominated in the present. Throughout the musical, we followed the 2 main characters (and rebels of the current scene) Galileo and Scaramouche as they joined the Bohemians on their journey to uncover musical instruments and rock n’ roll.

The plot of WE WILL ROCK YOU was heavy loaded at the beginning of the musical. If you didn’t pay attention, it could have led to confusion as the story progressed. Going in a more futuristic/ modernized direction with the plot was very unique and seemed like it was made to appeal more to younger audiences. The story allowed for many humorous moments, nods to music icons, and flashy costumes that engaged the audience; however, this direction had the potential to be a hit or miss with audience members. People who enjoy traditional musicals with relatable plots that reflect real-life situations may not find this musical appealing. I could also see it potentially being confusing, hard to follow, and/or slightly cheesy for some theatregoers. Despite some criticism with the plot of the show, the music part of the show will definitely appeal to all audiences.

This production did a very good job with its musical numbers. Being a jukebox musical featuring the music of Queen and Ben Elton, it wasn’t hard to get the crowd pumped up and excited for each song. The whole WE WILL ROCK YOU experience was like going to both a musical and a concert. Cast members would break out into song; however, the numbers were of concert-style caliber and often encouraged audience participation. Some of my favorite numbers included “I Want To Break Free”, “Somebody To Love”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, and “Another One Bites The Dust.” The most powerful numbers of the night: “We Are The Champions”, “We Will Rock You”, and (of course) “Bohemian Rhapsody” were absolutely show stopping. What made these numbers truly outstanding were the vocals by Trevor Coll (Galileo) and Keri Kelly (Scaramouche). Both cast members left the crowd speechless with their vocal ranges and the energy in their voices with each song!

Costumes designed by Angela Dale were a standout piece of the show. In one of the opening numbers, “Radio Ga Ga”, we met the Ga Ga kids in their flashy multicolored outfits reflecting the futuristic direction of the scene. As we met the villains, we encountered flashy jackets, robes, and dresses that really stole your attention on stage. One of my favorite outfits was the large dress that Krystle Chance (Killer Queen) wore during “Fat Bottomed Girls.” In addition to the costumes, I would also like to give praise to the 5 -person band that provided the music for the show. Comprised of Scott Henderson, Sam Coulson, Lisa Jacobs, Kyle McKearney, and Chad Melchert, I really appreciated the ways they were able to play Queen and Ben Elton’s music so well together. The virtuosity each musician displayed with his or her instrument was truly impeccable. For a majority of the show, the band stayed above the stage area on a riser, but came down to interact with the cast at the end of the show. I thought that this really showed how the music evolved by the end of the production and displayed how music had the ability to connect everyone together!

WE WILL ROCK YOU was a very different musical than the ones I’ve seen in the past. With its futuristic plot line, I thought it was very refreshing to see something so unique and distinctive from the rest. What I really liked about it overall was the music and vocal talent from the cast. Any night out involving the music from Queen is a good night!

WE WILL ROCK YOU presented by Annerin Theatricals will be making its next North American tour stop in Dawson Creek, BC on January 15th and Medicine Hat, Alberta on January 17th and 18th. To buy tickets and for more information on tour stops visit: www.queenonline.com/wwry/na_tour.

Photo Credit: Randy Feere, 2020

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