Thursday morning, I woke up to a miracle: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which has had an embarrassing dearth of female honorees in recent years, has managed to induct not one but two highly deserving women in its 2019 class. That’s right, y’all, Stevie Nicks and Janet Jackson are in!
This was Jackson’s third nomination (she became eligible in 2007), and the first nomination for Nicks as a solo artist (she became eligible in 2006). Jackson has faced an unfair uphill climb in music since her 2004 Super Bowl performance, for which she was reportedly penalized by the NFL, CBS, and MTV, as well as in chart and sales performance, for years while her co-performer Justin Timberlake faced little to no backlash.
Chaka Khan was the third woman nominated this year, with the group Rufus (they have been nominated three times together and Khan has been nominated twice as a solo artist, but can’t seem to get the votes to get inducted). It’s rare for the Rock Hall to induct two women in one year. It’s only happened a half dozen or so times.
Nicks joined another elite club as one of the rare musicians inducted with her band, Fleetwood Mac, and for her solo work. It’s an honor only bestowed on a few dozen other people, including each of the Beatles and Janet’s brother Michael. And, shockingly, she’s the first woman to earn the honor.
Jackson follows Madonna as one of the biggest female pop artists to be inducted and potentially opens the gates for other eligible women like the late Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Mary J. Blige.
Nicks’s nomination could open the door for more double nominations for deserving women to be acknowledged for their solo careers, like Tina Turner (who is currently inducted with her abusive ex-husband, Ike Turner) and Carole King (who is in with her husband Gerry Goffin under a non-performer songwriting award). It also highlights how many women the Rock Hall have failed to acknowledge who meet their criteria; from the same era as Nicks solo career but not inducted are one of the most influential girl rock groups of all time, the Go-Go’s; one of the biggest pop singers of the ‘80s, Cyndi Lauper; and a group a lot of ‘90s women built their careers on a fandom of, The Bangles.
As the Rock Hall has turned its attention to inducting key ‘90 bands in the past few years, with Nirvana and Pearl Jam getting nods as Radiohead does this year, women of the ‘90s have failed to be recognized. Where are the nominations for Hole, Alanis Morrissette, or No Doubt?
And, lest we forget, legendary women in country music also continue to be snubbed by the Rock Hall, who have recognized Johnny Cash and Hank Williams but not Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton.
These are two small steps forward for women, but for the next 10 years, the Rock Hall could nominate nothing but women and still not even out the number of inducted artists to be gender balanced. It would be nice if they did, however, because the names of the marquee, absolutely legendary women artists missing from the annals of the Rock Hall are glaring.