The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Announces Its Most Diverse Class of Nominees in 25 Years

Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige and Tina Turner are among this year's nominees

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Jay-Z performs onstage on April 27, 2019 in Virginia Beach City.
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The 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations are here, and as Rolling Stone points out, this year’s class of nominees is the most racially diverse one since 1996, with nine of the 16 nominated acts featuring BIPOC performers.

Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, Mary J. Blige, Iron Maiden, Tina Turner, the Go-Go’s, Rage Against the Machine, Kate Bush, Devo, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Todd Rundgren and Dionne Warwick are all on the ballot this year. (King was previously inducted as a non-performer with Gerry Goffin in 1990, and Turner was inducted as a member of Ike & Tina Turner in 1991.) Those who earn the most votes from the Hall’s pool of more than 1,000 artists, historians, journalists and other voting members will be announced in May and inducted in a ceremony in the fall.

“This remarkable ballot reflects the diversity and depth of the artists and music the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame celebrates,” Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation Chairman John Sykes said in a statement. “These nominees have left an indelible impact on the sonic landscape of the world and influenced countless artists that have followed them.”

To be eligible for this year’s ballot, each nominee’s first single or album had to have been released in 1995 or earlier; Foo Fighters and Jay-Z are the only acts this year to be nominated in their first year of eligibility. It raises some important questions as we get deeper into the eligibility of indie rock’s golden age: Will the institution, which has typically rewarded mainstream success, finally be forced to recognize more independent artists whose musical legacy is hugely important and influential despite their relative lack of commercial success? Or will those bands have to sit back and wait while the Hall of Fame focuses instead on righting its past wrongs and (rightly) including a more diverse slate of nominees who are long overdue to be recognized? It’s a tricky situation, and one that will only get more complicated as time goes on.

But while we would have loved to see, say, Wilco earn a nomination, it’s still refreshing to see the Hall — which used to be largely dominated by white men — broadening its horizons a bit.

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