Why Aren’t These Women In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?

Once again, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seems to have a woman problem. As in, there aren't nearly enough women in it.

Scroll through its long list of inductees and you will notice that very few of them aren't men. In fact, only 69 of the 888 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are women — that’s just 7.7% over 35 years. For women of color, the numbers are even bleaker.


Those numbers make Whitney Houston, the only woman who will be inducted in 2020, the exception to an outdated tradition. Janet Jackson and Stevie Nicks, who were inducted in 2019, both implored the Rock Hall to induct more women in their speeches. Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Joan Baez was the only woman inductee in 2017. In 2016, no women were inducted and in 2015, Joan Jett was the only woman, along with her male band, the Blackhearts. And way back in 1983, when it first started inducting members, zero women were honored.

Let's be honest: that's offensive as hell. Especially when you consider how many iconic, incredible, and groundbreaking women musicians there have been in the history of rock ‘n’ roll — many of whom have never even been considered with a nomination. Is the nomination committee unaware of these women? Do they need a list? We've got a lot of names.

Ahead are our picks from among the many deserving women who are pioneers in music, eligible according to the current criteria, and who should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as soon as possible.

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Aaliyah released her smash album Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number in 1994 when she was just 14, and in the following years, she dropped two other albums: One In A Million and Aaliyah, the latter of which is widely considered one of the greatest R&B records of all time and created a blueprint for the genre’s future. Aaliyah’s tragic early death — she was just 22 — rippled across the music industry and forever cemented her status as an undeniable icon.

Alejandra Salazar
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Liz Phair

Liz Phair’s Girly Sound mixtapes, coupled with her 1993 debut studio album Exile in Guyville, were an instrumental part of rock ‘n’ roll at the turn of the century, defining much of the sound of ‘90s alternative rock and deftly shaping the early 2000s. Phair’s six albums have racked up nearly 3 million record sales worldwide and two Grammy nominations.

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Sheryl Crow

Who among us hasn’t loudly sung along to “If It Makes You Happy”? Sheryl Crow is immediately recognizable — her career spans nearly 30 years and is marked by hit after hit record. Crow has dabbled in rock, country, and blues, and she has been exemplary in each, having won nine Grammys out of more than 30 nominations. Her list of collaborators wildly diverse, and just as extensive: Crow has worked with the likes of Stevie Nicks, The Dixie Chicks, and The Rolling Stones.

Alejandra Salazar
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Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox got her big international break as half of the hit new wave music duo The Eurythmics — which was incidentally nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018 — but she’s a powerhouse all on her own. Lennox’s career highlights include iconic singles such as “Walking On Broken Glass” and “No More (I Love Yous),” not to mention four Grammy wins, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. Lennox is also a vocal activist and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2011.

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Mary J. Blige

After 13 studio albums and four Grammys, Blige is a household name. Blige’s music was pivotal in bridging hip-hop, R&B, and soul, and her early breakout records What’s The 411? and My Life showcased her ability to seamlessly merge different musical styles. Blige has also ventured into acting, earning a Golden Globe nomination for her supporting role in Mudbound, and she was nominated for an Academy Award for writing an original song for the film.

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Björk is one of the greatest avant-garde artists of all time. Besides her iconic looks — the swan dress she wore to the 2001 Academy Awards is now a thing of legend — the Icelandic singer has also pushed the boundaries of pop, electronica, and rock music since she began releasing music at age 11. Björk became an international star with the steady release of solo albums in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, including Post, Homogenic, and Medúlla.

Alejandra Salazar
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Alanis Morrissette

Alanis Morrissette has the rare ability to harness raw emotion in her music, especially the difficult, messy kind — angst, heartbreak, and anger — that women are typically encouraged to hide away. Morrissette rocks out to it instead, best exemplified in her near-flawless alternative rock record, 1995’s Jagged Little Pill. (The album is so influential, in fact, that it is now the basis of an upcoming Broadway musical.) In 2018, Morrissette revealed she is working on new music.

Alejandra Salazar
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PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey’s punkish rock music gained a huge following the release of records such as Rid Of Me and Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, in which she showcased a talent for weaving lyrical poetry out of dark themes. In 2013, Harvey was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her musical contributions.

Alejandra Salazar
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Tori Amos

Tori Amos is a classically trained singer and pianist, and her music dabbles in rock, folk, classical, and electronica, among other genres — her sound has naturally evolved across 15 solo studio albums. From her solo debut Little Earthquakes in 1992 up through 2017’s Native Invader, Amos has tackled themes of feminism, sexuality, and religion in her work, unabashedly using her voice to elevate big questions and important issues to the fore.

Alejandra Salazar
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Selena Quintanilla earned her mononymous recognition well before her untimely death at just 23. The Queen of Tejano’s studio album Dreaming Of You dropped posthumously in 1995 and broke several records upon its release, including becoming the first album by a Latin artist to top the United States Billboard 200 chart. Selena’s life also inspired a popular film — Selena, which launched Jennifer Lopez’s career — and she remains an icon for the Latinx community to this day.

Alejandra Salazar
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Tina Turner
Here's the thing: Technically, Turner is already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not as an individual artist. She shares her recognition with her late, notoriously abusive, husband, Ike Turner. But the fact is, Tina Turner was an influential musician post-Ike Turner. She's even been called the Queen of Rock and Roll by Rolling Stone. Since every Beatle is in as a member of that band and as solo artists, let's do the same for Tina.
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The Go-Go's
Rising to fame in the 1980s, the Go-Go's became legends for being the first and only female band that topped the Billboard charts while both writing their own songs and playing their own instruments. The group's music is considered quintessential New Wave. Its hit songs include "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got The Beat." The band fell apart thanks in part to drug addiction and personality clashes, but the Go-Go's remain one of the most important and successful all-female rock bands in history. The Go-Go's would join the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Ronettes in the Hall of Fame as one of just a few all-girl groups.
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Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton is the most honored female country music performer of all time. She has 41 career top 10 country albums — which is incredible. She also eight Grammy Awards under her belt. In addition to being a talented noted vocalist, Parton is also an accomplished composer. Her song, "I Will Always Love You," was later covered by Whitney Houston and was one of her biggest successes. Parton was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should be next.
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Chaka Khan
In the 1970s, Chaka Khan was the incredible frontwoman for the funk band Rufus. And for decades after, she became a vocal legend. Khan has won 10 Grammys and has sold an estimated 70 million records worldwide. She's been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame six times. It's high time that Khan gets inducted.
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Carly Simon
While women of the 1990s might hail Melissa Etheridge or Alanis Morissette as the queen of breakup anthems, the truth is, Carly Simon did it first. The singer-songwriter is probably best known for "You're So Vain," a number-one hit that earned her three Grammy nominations. But she's also known for hits like "You Belong To Me," "Mockingbird," and "Let the River Run." She's been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame and is basically the template Taylor Swift stole her best ideas from. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should be welcoming her in the door.
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Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand has nine Golden Globes, five Emmys, and two Academy Awards. She also has 10 Grammys — including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and Grammy Legend Award. Obviously, Streisand is a legend. So where's her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction?
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Melissa Etheridge
It's been more than 25 years since Melissa Etheridge released her first album, making her eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Etheridge's confessional lyrics, raspy voice, and folk-rock sound has been a staple in music for decades. She already has an Oscar and two Grammys. Her hit album, Yes I Am, went six-times platinum. And she's not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, because...?
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Cyndi Lauper
Her debut album, She's So Unusual, nabbed five top-five hits: "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," "Time After Time," "She Bop," and "All Through the Night." Since then, Lauper has gone on to win Grammys, Tonys, and Emmys. Her scores for the musicals Memphis Blues and Kinky Boots both earned her Tonys. But beyond her music, Lauper is a pop culture icon and an LGBT rights activist. In her 30-year career, Lauper has been inducted into both the Hollywood and Songwriters Halls of Fame.
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Ella Fitzgerald
The queen of Jazz and the first lady of song are only a few of Ella Fitzgerald's many names. But one title always fits: legend. Her scat-singing, improvisation, and perfect diction is just part of what makes Fitzgerald's music so memorable. She collaborated with the likes of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. And did we mention she won 14 Grammys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award? She's the inspiration behind numerous men who are already in the Rock Hall, so where's her spot?
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June Cash Carter
Don't ever think of June Cash Carter as just the wife of Johnny Cash — because she was so much more. Cash Carter played guitar, banjo, autoharp, and the harmonica. Long before she started working with Cash, she had success with songs like "Jukebox Blues" and "The Heel." She wrote "Ring of Fire" and had a duet with Cash on "It Ain't Me Babe" and "Jackson." She's huge influence in the country music world and already a member of the Christian Music Hall of Fame.
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Bette Midler
Here are the facts: Midler has won three Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, and a special Tony Award. The divine Miss M has also sold over 35 million records worldwide. She's the reason we have songs like "The Wind Beneath My Wings" and "From A Distance." Her singing talent is only matched by her presence on the stage. I'm sorry, but how the hell is a legend like Midler not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
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Kate Bush
Kate Bush is a music legend thanks to her legacy of experimental sound. She's also been hailed as the pioneer of the theatrical modern rock tour. In 1978, Bush became the first female artist to score a U.K. number one on the Official Singles Chart with a self-written song, "Wuthering Heights." She's also the first female in history to land eight albums simultaneously in the top 40 of the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart. Sounds Hall-of-Fame worthy.
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Patsy Cline
Her legacy was cut short too soon, in a plane crash in 1963, when Cline was only 31. She left behind some of the most notable songs in country music, including “Crazy,” “I Fall To Pieces,” and, “Walking After Midnight.” In her brief time in the spotlight, Cline created the model of what a female country singer should be. She taught herself to play piano at 8, landed a recording contract, and went out of her way to be supportive of fellow female musicians and show them the ropes in Nashville. Her brand of “countrypolitan” music would push country forward from its bluegrass roots and her emotive voice has influenced generations of singers. She deserves a spot in the Rock Hall along with all the other country legends it has inducted.
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With songs like "Smooth Operator," "No Ordinary Love," and "By Your Side," singer Sade Adu solidified her place in music history. Sade isn't known for her vocal power, but rather for her soft, smooth crooning. She's been called Britain's most successful female solo artist and has sold more than 50 million units worldwide.
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The Runaways
Joan Jett is already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (along with the Blackhearts). But it's time to give some credit to the all-girl band from whom she got her big break, The Runaways. These five women hit it big in the U.S. with their single "Cherry Bomb" and their influence can't be measured. Many female rock bands owe their success to The Runaways, who paved the way in a male-dominated industry in the '70s.
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Queen Latifah
Her debut album, All Hail The Queen, featured the hit single "Ladies First" and launched a career that's spanned multiple decades — and extended to stage and screen. Queen Latifah is one of rap music's female pioneers. She's the first female hip-hop artist to be nominated for an Oscar. And she hasn't just focused on hip-hop; Queen Latifah has also dabbled in jazz. She's been cited as an influence by artists like Lil' Kim, Da Brat, and other female MCs that followed.
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Pat Benatar
Can you have a conversation about rock and roll music and not acknowledge Pat Benatar? The singer-songwriter is a four-time Grammy Award winner. Songs like "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," "Heartbreaker," "Love Is a Battlefield," and "We Belong" are revered as the stuff of '80s classic-rock legend. In addition to her numerous awards and hit singles, Benatar was also the first woman to be played on MTV.
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En Vogue
These Oakland, CA, natives took the '90s by storm with a series of pop/R & B hits that showcased their vocal talents. En Vogue — with its original line-up consisted of Terry Ellis, Dawn Robinson, Cindy Herron, and Maxine Jones — received seven Grammy nominations during their tenure. Best known for songs like "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)," "Giving Him Something He Can Feel," and "Free Your Mind," En Vogue is remembered as one of the best female vocal groups of all time.
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You can't talk about grunge without talking about Hole. With Courtney Love at the helm, Hole was one of the most successful female-fronted rock bands in history. It emerged from the punk-rock scene with a feminist focus. The group's songs discussed issues of body image, identity, and sexual exploitation. Hole eventually disbanded in the late '90s, but during its run, Hole garnered six Grammy nominations.
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Is there a person alive who doesn't know the sound of "Push It" when it starts playing? Salt-N-Pepa was one of the first all-female rap groups in history. The group is best-known for the line-up consisting of Cheryl James ("Salt"), Sandra Denton ("Pepa") and Deidra Roper ("DJ Spinderella"). With songs like "Let's Talk About Sex" and "Shoop," Salt-N-Pepa redefined the role of women in hip-hop. Surely, that's a Hall of Fame-worthy achievement?
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Céline Dion
Céline Dion may be best known for her reign in the 1990s, but her career started when she was still just a teenager in the '80s. Her hits include "The Power of Love," "Because You Loved Me," "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," and "My Heart Will Go On." Her voice is distinct for its power; her music is distinct for being a mix of gospel, rock, pop, and classical. She's won five Grammy Awards and she's the best-selling Canadian artist of all time.
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Mariah Carey
Talk about iconic: Mariah Carey is the solo artist with the most number-one singles in history. Her voice is the stuff of legend — a powerhouse, but feathery and light when necessary. Her range spans five octaves and she's one of the few artists who can manipulate the "whistle register." She's also one of the best-selling artists of all time. Carey is also credited with mixing R & B and hip-hop on remixes to create signature hits. Did we mention she's also a five-time Grammy winner? So where's Mariah Carey's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction?
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Loretta Lynn
This coal miner’s daughter from Kentucky is considered one of the pillars of country music and easily one of the most female-focused voices in the genre. Her songs “The Pill” and “Rated X” are the kind of feisty, funny, and feminist songs only she could get away with singing, while "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (With Lovin' On Your Mind)” and “Fist City” offered a female point of view that wasn’t widely available in country during the ‘60s. Everyone from Conway Twitty to Jack White and Dolly Parton have worked with this Country Music Hall of Famer, while today’s biggest female country artists cite her as an influence.
Cher is the only female artist to have a single reach the number-one spot on the Billboard charts for the last six decades. Yes, you read that correctly: From the 1960s to the 2010s, Cher has had a hit single in each decade. That's insane! Cher has starred in countless successful films and she's been a fashion icon for as long as she's been in the spotlight — she even won a CFDA Award for her sartorial achievements. Cher also has a Grammy, an Emmy, an Oscar, and three Golden Globe Awards. She's more than deserving of entry to the Rock Hall.
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Grace Jones
Think of her as the female David Bowie: Grace Jones is synonymous with pushing boundaries. The singer, songwriter, supermodel, and actress is known as a gender-bending icon thanks to her views on sexuality and her androgynous style. Her music was a mix of reggae, New Wave, and dance. Jones found major success on the U.K. charts and influenced culture around the world. She's been called a major influence for artists like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Annie Lennox, and Nile Rodgers. Maybe it's time she's recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, too?
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