The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, located in Cleveland, Ohio, recognizes musical influences from the Rock ‘n’ Roll industry. The obvious inductees include The Beatles, The Band, Chuck Berry, and numerous other influential artists, but the Hall of Fame also recognizes lesser known musicians such as Dion and Duane Eddy. As I look through the list, however, I notice a gaping hole where there should be female musicians. In fact, only 43 female musicians or groups are included within the 317 inductees, amounting to 13.5 percent. Aretha Franklin and Bessie Smith were recognized, but where are the less obvious choices? If male groups like The Flamingos are in the Hall of Fame (no offense to anyone who loves their one good song), then why are singers like Carole King and Nina Simone left out?
This major inequivalence in the Hall of Fame points to a larger problem within the music industry: the continual underrepresentation of women artists. Some may argue that, at least within the rock industry, there are fewer women musicians. But why are there fewer females in rock n’ roll? Perhaps if women musicians received the same recognition as their male counterparts, the world might finally consider the many women in the industry. Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, Janet Jackson, Missy Elliot, and The Go-Gos are all missing from the Hall of Fame — and those are just the obvious ones.
So what can we do? A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a Facebook page titled “Induct Carly Simon into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”. The page has over 1,000 likes and seems to attract a dedicated following, so I was inspired to create one for Carole King. Unfortunately, my page only has thirteen likes, and all of them are friends I invited. Regardless, Facebook is likely an ineffectual way to approach such a widespread problem, though it may shine some light on the issue. The Hall of Fame also started a Fan Vote, allowing anyone to vote on nominees for each year. Support this year’s female nominees, including Kate Bush and Nina Simone, by participating in the poll on the Hall of Fame website. What’s more, support feminist activist groups such as the Guerrilla Girls, who raise awareness about the underrepresentation of female artists in museums. By exposing ourselves and others to women’s artistry, we will begin to provide them with the recognition and followers they deserve.
Illustrations by Ellie Grever