This year’s inductees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame have been announced, featuring some of the biggest names in music history, as well as lesser-known figures who helped shape seminal genres.
The news was announced last month by the Hall during a special radio show on Apple Music 1 featuring several of the artists slated for induction, including the country crossover superstar Sheryl Crow and longtime Elton John collaborator Bernie Taupin.
“This year’s incredible group of Inductees reflects the diverse artists and sounds that define rock & roll,” said John Sykes, Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, in a statement.
“We are honored that this November’s Induction Ceremony in New York will coincide with two milestones in music culture; the 90th birthday of Willie Nelson and the 50th Anniversary of the birth of Hip Hop.”
Congratulations to the #RockHall2023 Inductees! The Ceremony will be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Friday, November 3rd, and will return to Cleveland in 2024. Head over to https://t.co/SHicoN3BaC for more details. pic.twitter.com/1tCo6K9AHS— Rock Hall (@rockhall) May 3, 2023
Reflecting a unique phenomenon in the American entertainment world, Black Catholics were featured across three of the four categories for this year's inductees, which include awards for performers, music influencers, musical excellence, and the Ahmet Ertegun Award for a non-performer personality.
For Musical Excellence, Chicago’s own Catholic-raised Chaka Khan, known as the “Queen of Funk,” was selected in a repeat year of ballot eligibility, having released her first record with the band Rufus 50 years ago. (The RockHall requires a 25-year gap before eligibility for induction.) Khan is best known for her hits “Ain’t Nobody,” “I’m Every Woman,” “Sweet Thing,” and “Tell Me Something Good.” Her 1984 crossover breakthrough “I Feel For You,” a Prince cover and collaboration with Melle Mel, was one of the first R&B songs to feature a rapper.
DJ Kool Herc, a Catholic-educated Jamaican American who helped found the genre of hip-hop, is also up for induction in the Musical Influence category, having cut his chops in the break-dancing scene of 1970s New York. At a house party he and his sister hosted in 1973, he is said to have pioneered the use of spoken lyrical interludes while the DJ ran the instrumental. He also coined the term “ b-boys” to describe those dancing during his beats. He will be one of several artists featured in the Rock Hall’s new “Hip Hop at 50” exhibit, debuting later this month at their flagship museum in Cleveland.
The #RockHall celebrates 'Hip Hop at 50' with an in-depth look at the powerful cultural force through archival highlights, new interviews & our featured exhibit "Holla If Ya Hear Me" sponsored by @technics, opening 6/29. https://t.co/A6Badd0y2a #HipHop50 pic.twitter.com/LzcXUJbKKN— Rock Hall (@rockhall) June 1, 2023
The late 90s’ rap-rock group Rage Against the Machine will be inducted under the Performer Category, following more than twenty (non-consecutive) years of activistic music-making and touring. They achieved international fame with their initial run at the turn of the millennium, releasing several chart-topping albums and notable protest songs such as “Killing in the Name,” which lamented the infamous beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers in 1991. Lead guitarist Tom Morello, the son of an Italian-Irish mother and Kenyan father, was raised Catholic and has been noted for his religious sensibilities.
“We are grateful to all of the passionate fans, the many talented co-conspirators we’ve worked with and all the activists, organizers, rebels and revolutionaries past, present and future who have inspired our art,” the band said in a statement.
Other notable Rock Hall inductees this year include Kate Bush, Willie Nelson, Missy Elliott, The Spinners, and Don Cornelius, a radio host who hosted the popular Black music show “Soul Train” for more than 20 years. He died in 2012.
The 38th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Friday, November 2, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Ticket sales have not yet been announced, but Rock Hall donors and members who contribute by the end of June will receive advance purchase opportunities.
Founded in 1983, the Rock Hall operates its museum year-round, celebrates musical endeavors nationwide through its foundation, and “celebrates the sound of youth culture and honors the artists whose music connects us all.”
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.