From May 2011 to February 2012, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame featured an exhibit called “Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power.” From September 2012 to August 2014, the exhibit traveled around to various museums in the United States. It made its final stop at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. where I was given a private tour of the collection from over 70 different performers, from Janis Joplin and Tina Turner to Chrissie Hynde and Stevie Nicks.
While the exhibit’s artifacts dated back to the 1920s and traveled through to the present day, my tour guide made sure to point out that one “unusual” woman from the 1980s was partially responsible for the exhibit’s existence. On a visit to the Rock Hall, Cyndi Lauper took a tour of the museum, and she noticed that something was missing. “She very simply said, ‘Where the women at?!,” said my tour guide, and that was the impetus for that exhibit.
Frankly, the same question can be posed about the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees.
Rock Hall’s new chairman John Sykes has made a point in recent interviews to point out how the Rock Hall needs to evolve. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Sykes said, “…it’s time to take the Hall to 2.0. That means a more diverse board, that means more women, people of color, people who reflect the kind of music that’s now being inducted. We have to look and feel like the artists that come into our Hall. That’s just the natural transition.”
Admittedly, the 2020 Rock Hall nominees isn’t a complete evolutionary loss. Of the 16 nominees, nine are first-time nominees. The often-overlooked hard rock and heavy metal genre received some serious love with nominations for Judas Priest (two-time nominee), MC5 (five-time nominee), Motorhead (first-time nominee), Nine Inch Nails (third-time nominee) and Soundgarden (first-time nominee).
But, alas, in a sea of mostly bands and men, only three women (!) were featured in the 2020 nominees: Pat Benatar, Whitney Houston and Chaka Khan as part of Rufus.
A number of women are eligible for nomination, but at the very least, these nine women artists deserved at least a nomination this year.