Which female rockers deserve induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Our music writers highlight their favourite female rockers that are worthy of an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

multiple writers
12th November 2020
Images: Hunt + Capture, Jørund Myhre, Tore Sætre, Tim Carter

There are not enough women in the Rock and Roll hall of fame, especially when then there are so many incredible female musicians who are arguably better than a lot of the egotistical rock stars who are already in the hall. Our writers have told us who they think deserves a place in this prestigious hall.

Hayley Williams

Hayley Williams is not technically eligible for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame until 2031 (25 years after Paramore’s astounding debut All We Know Is Falling), but if they were going to break their nearly forty year-old rules for anyone, it should be her. Williams is maybe the most creative figurehead the contemporary alt/rock scene has encountered, soaring through pop, rock, and punk with once-in-a-generation musical skill, innovative vision and stunning lyricism.

From unrivalled emo bangers that even your friends who never had a side-fringe in Year 8 will request at parties (‘Misery Business’, ‘Ignorance’), to sobbing-in-bed torch songs (‘Last Hope’, ‘The Only Exception’), she has blessed us with a truly well-rounded and consistently exciting repertoire. Probably the most accurate description of her sheer vocal versatility is via a TikTok that shows someone being resurrected from the brink of death by her life-changing high note in ‘All I Wanted’ – she’s that powerful.  

This year’s solo release Petals for Armor solidified her place as an icon in her own right away from Paramore’s ubiquity, detailing vulnerabilities, mental illness, and piecing life back together after falling apart, all wrapped in gorgeously experimental pop sensibility. Recently she has also been particularly vocal in supporting Black and LGBTQ+ groups, alongside building a community of fans embolden by her originality and openness.

Having been frequently belittled in the male-dominated 2000's rock scene, the joke’s now on them, because Hayley Williams has outlasted her roots as an emo frontperson to become one of the greatest musicians of our time, and a truly deserving Hall of Fame inductee.

Leonie Bellini

Lauryn Hill

With one of the strongest legacies of any 90s artist, Lauryn Hill is a modern great. Due to her influence, artistry and pure talent, she deserves recognition within the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was the first ever rap album to win Album of the Year at the Grammys, and has subsequently immortalized itself as a modern classic - recalled as an album that effortlessly traverses a plethora of moods and sounds within R&B and hip hop spaces. Her work with the Fugees is equally brilliant, with Lauryn standing out as the star within a diversely talented group.

With all seven hip hop artists already inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame being male, a female artist's inclusion is long overdue. It is oversimplifying things, though, to pigeon-hole Lauryn into the genre of hip hop - as much of her work centres around her incredible singing voice. In the lanes of singing and rapping, she stands apart from both male and female peers, proficient in two fields rather than one.

With an excellent ear for instrumental arrangements, incredible vocals and a gift for flow and lyricism, Lauryn is a once in a generation talent. She is a groundbreaking figure in a predominantly male genre, and has become a role model to many. In 1999, she was asked to induct the Staple Singers into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but I believe she deserves her time in the spotlight.

Oren Brown

Melissa Etheridge

After fifteen Grammy nominations including two wins, an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – surely, the time has come for Melissa Etheridge to be inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame.

Etheridge’s “confessional lyrics, pop-based folk-rock and raspy, smoky vocals” have been a central part of the development and preservation of Rock for over 25 years. With the release of her breakout album Yes I Am in 1993, Etheridge truly cemented herself as a rock legend, the iconic album spending 138 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, earning the RIAA certification of 6x platinum.

Etheridge transcends traditional restrictions of genre, combining Folk, Rock and Blues elements into her astonishing work. An incredibly accomplished guitarist (awarded the Gibson Guitar Award for Best Rock Guitarist: Female in 2001), Etheridge has proven her talent and dedication to her craft tenfold.

One of the most poignant moments in her career was her 2005 Grammy Awards performance marking the 35th anniversary of Janis Joplin’s tragic passing. Etheridge’s entrance to the stage – bald due to chemotherapy – brought the infamously stoic Grammy audience to enthusiastic applause, solidifying her emotional rendition of ‘Piece of My Heart’ into a worldwide anthem for breast cancer survivors.

Throughout her illustrious career, Melissa Etheridge’s unbridled talent has already earnt her a deservingly remarkable collection of awards. Surely after over 25 years of dedication and genius, Etheridge has truly proven her right to be inducted into the hall of fame.  

Rachel McCreanor

Erykah Badu

To be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an incredible feat, to do so twice is even more impressive, but to do both as a woman is something particularly special. When discussing Stevie Nicks’ success, it is worth acknowledging the many female artists who have failed to have their contributions to music celebrated by the establishment since its inception in 1983.

Erykah Badu, the Queen of Neo-Soul herself, springs to my mind almost instantly when considering this issue. Not only did she bring neo-soul – the spiritually concerned sibling of R&B combined with all the best elements of jazz and hip hop – into the mainstream and produce two platinum-selling albums, but she also inspired a whole generation after herself. Considering her debut record, ‘Baduizm’, is certified triple platinum and artists from our own little island such as Tom Misch and Mahalia have cited her as a key influence on their own music, it’s clear she’s made quite an impression on the industry and the culture it operates within.

Putting aside her exceptional originality and infectious presence as a performer, she has achieved a hell of a lot as a musician, surpassing many of the inductees already in the Hall of Fame in terms of record sales, and her contribution to the world doesn’t stop with her songs. Badu is a symbol of female empowerment, spreading messages of love, peace and prosperity through her words and the energy she projects into the world – she deserves to have her excellence recognised.

Syd Lawther

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