Kate Bush, Missy Elliott and Willie Nelson Voted Into Rock Hall of Fame
The reclusive (but freshly relevant) experimental pop singer Kate Bush, the one-of-one rapper Missy Elliott and the 90-year-old country stalwart Willie Nelson are among this year’s genre-spanning inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The organization behind the museum and annual ceremony announced the lineup on Wednesday, underlining how the new class reflected “the diverse artists and sounds that define rock & roll.”
Rounding out the seven acts voted in by more than 1,000 artists, historians and music industry professionals are the pop singer George Michael, who died in 2016; the 1970s soul group the Spinners, who had been nominated three times prior; the platinum-selling 1990s pop-rock singer Sheryl Crow; and the politically rambunctious rap-rock band Rage Against the Machine, who crossed the threshold after its fifth time on the ballot.
The Rock Hall ceremony will be held on Friday, Nov. 3, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Furthering a pattern that has taken shape in recent years — following steady criticism against the Rock Hall for its lack of inclusion, especially among race and gender lines — none of the musicians inducted this time fit neatly into the most narrow strictures of what constitutes rock. But as the genre and the institution continue to evolve, those behind the scenes have proved increasingly welcome to honoring rappers, pop singers and country artists like Dolly Parton, who attempted to remove herself from consideration last year but was voted in anyway.
In a statement accompanying the induction announcement on Wednesday, John Sykes, the chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, said, “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.”
Nelson — who celebrated his birthday over the weekend with a concert featuring Neil Young, Miranda Lambert and Snoop Dogg — had been eligible for the Rock Hall since 1987, 25 years after the release of his first commercial recording and six years before he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Like Michael, best known for hits like “Faith” and “Freedom! ’90,” this was Nelson’s first time on the ballot.
Bush, who has not released an album in more than a decade, had been nominated three times prior. But she may have received a boost thanks to renewed interest in her music since last year, when a placement in the Netflix show “Stranger Things” sent her 1985 single “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” back onto pop radio and to a new peak of No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Elliott will become the first woman in rap to be included in the Rock Hall, following previous recognition for artists like Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, N.W.A, Public Enemy and Jay-Z. “I want to say this is HUGE not for just me but all my Sisters in HIPHOP,” she wrote in a string of tweets on Wednesday. “this door is now OPEN to showcase the hard work & what many of us contribute to MUSIC. I have cried all morning because I am GRATEFUL.”
Voters passed over more traditional rock bands on the latest ballot like Soundgarden, the White Stripes, Iron Maiden and Joy Division, as well as the singer-songwriters Warren Zevon and Cyndi Lauper. The rap group A Tribe Called Quest also failed to make the cut.
Yet outside of those inducted as performers, the ceremony this fall will also celebrate the hip-hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc and the guitarist Link Wray (awarded for “musical influence”); the singer Chaka Khan, the composer and producer Al Kooper and the songwriter Bernie Taupin (for “musical excellence”); and the “Soul Train” creator, producer and host Don Cornelius (posthumously receiving the Ahmet Ertegun award for executives).