Each year, a number of artists are nominated for induction at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Yesterday, the 2017 nominees were announced.
The nineteen artists on the list cross genres, decades, and music scenes, and include pioneers such as punk/metal godfathers MC5 and electronic innovators Kraftwerk, undisputed icons such as Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson, among others. However, as in previous years, there are few women among them. Unequal gender representation has long been a point of contention among many of the Hall of Fame’s critics. In April, 2016, Quartz’ Noah Berlatsky even reported that less than 15% of all of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees are women.
Along with Jackson, the women on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2017 Ballot include the legendary Chaka Khan, disco queens Alfa Anderson, Norma Jean Wright, and Luci Martin of Chic, and one iconic artist as widely known for her guitar talents as well as her vocals: folk singer-songwriter and activist, Joan Baez.
Born on Staten Island in 1941, the soprano-voiced Baez has been writing and performing music for over 50 years and her influence has, directly or indirectly, touched virtually every genre that has come since. The daughter of a Mexican father and a Louisiana-raised mother, she was impacted by discrimination and intolerance at an early age, and developed a strong social conscience that forever became intertwined in her music.
Baez got her first big break performing at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival. The following year, she released a self-titled studio album. In quick succession, her debut and its follow ups, Joan Baez, Vol. 2 (1961), and live collection Joan Baez in Concert in 1963 achieved Gold status (selling upwards of 500,000 albums apiece). To date, she has released 24 studio albums, most recently, Day After Tomorrow in 2008.
Over the decades, Baez has remained committed to various humanitarian and environmental causes, often using music as a tool to start conversations and open minds. After hearing Martin Luther King Jr. (later a personal friend) speak in 1956, she became involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s and protests against the Vietnam War, engaging in acts of civil disobedience, and performing at rallies including the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Since then she has continued to share a message of peace and human rights, protesting wars and violent conflicts, becoming a prominent voice for LGBT rights, and those of disenfranchised and marginalized communities around the world. Her work has resulted in honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Antioch and Rutgers and in celebration of Amnesty International’s 50th anniversary in 2011 – an organization she helped establish in the early ’70s – they introduced and awarded her with the first “Amnesty International Joan Baez Award for Outstanding Inspirational Service in the Global Fight for Human Rights.” Now 75, Baez’ work continues to inspire. On her current, career-spanning fall tour, she has teamed up with the Innocence Project to spread awareness about wrongful convictions and injustice in the U.S. court systems.
To choose its final inductees, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame sends ballots to over 600 artists, members of the music industry, and previous inductees. Starting in 2012, they’ve given fans the chance to create an impact on the process through a collective vote, of which the five artists will form one ballot to be counted along with the rest. Fans are able to vote for five artists daily until December 5.
Congratulations on the nomination, Ms. Baez! We think it’s long overdue!