Music Pioneers Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe Join The 2018 Class of Rock Hall Honorees

Dec 13, 2017

Jazz legend Nina Simone created some of the most influential political music of her time including songs like "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" and "Mississippi Goddam".
Credit RON KROON / DUTCH NATION ARCHIVES / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The 2018 class of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees announced today include a jazz icon and a gospel legend.  

Included with the rock bands Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits, and The Moody Blues is Nina Simone. Sister Rosetta Tharpe will receive the Award for Early Influence.

Jason Hanley, vice president of education and visitor engagement at the Rock Hall, cites Simone’s influential jazz and soul music and civil rights activism as reasons  she is an important part of this year’s class.

“The same issues she was talking about in the 1960s are still ever present for us. So I think when a voter sees that, that’s going to have an impact. They’re going to see that that artists work still is needed in many ways and is still a voice that is important for us to hear,” said Hanley.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe often referred to as the “godmother of rock and roll” has long been discussed as a possible inductee. Hanley feels that this award recognizes her foundational influence without downplaying the important legacy of her music.

The voting body of more than 900 narrowed down a competitive list of 19 nominees to create this year’s class. The induction ceremony will take place on April 14th at Cleveland’s Public Hall.