Six Black artists among ‘most diverse’ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees

By: Alyssa Wilson

The 2021 inductees in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame were announced Wednesday and it is the most diverse list in the history of the organization. There are six Black artists among the inductees.  

The inductees include:  

Performer Category:  

  • Tina Turner 
  • Carole King 
  • The Go-Go’s 
  • Jay-Z 
  • Foo Fighters 
  • Todd Rundgren  

Early Influence Award:  

  • Kraftwerk 
  • Charley Patton 
  • Gil Scott-Heron  

Musical Excellence Award:  

  • LL Cool J 
  • Billy Preston 
  • Randy Rhoads 

Ahmet Ertegun Award:  

  • Clarence Avant  

RELATED: Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails set for Rock Hall induction 

Tina Turner, known as the Queen of Rock & Roll, rose to fame in the 1960s in the duo Ike and Tina Turner and then again for her solo career in the 1980s. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame said, “Turner embodies the strength that comes from emotional recovery. Her music and life have empowered fans of multiple generations, giving them the courage and spirit to reclaim their own story in their own words.”  

Rapper Jay-Z has 14 number one albums and he has 22 Grammys, the most in the history of hip-hop. He also is the first rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The organization described the billionaire as a person who “has maintained authenticity with hip-hop purists while still achieving incomparable commercial success.”  

Gil Scott-Heron was known as “a teller of uncomfortable truths.” He referred to himself as a “bluesologist,” and is considered a key figure in the hip-hop and neo-soul genres. Even after his death in 2011, he is still celebrated and his music has been sampled by Kanye West, Drake and Rihanna.  

LL Cool J, who has been called the Little Richard of hip-hop, was only a teenager when Def Jam Records launched his first album. His work is known to have paved the way for others signed by Def Jam, including Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys and Slick Rick. The organization said, “LL Cool J epitomizes the entrepreneurial musician. He leveraged his music career into successful ventures in movies, television, fashion and fitness.” 

Singer & songwriter Billy Preston, a child prodigy, played organ with Mahalia Jackson at the age of 10. He also appeared on the Nat King Cole Show before joining Little Richard’s touring band. During his career, he mixed gospel and soul with rock and funk.  

The “Godfather of Black Music,” Clarence Avant, is “cool, savvy, confident and fearless – someone who makes the impossible possible,” the organization said. He has served as a manager, label owner, concert organizer, event producer, political fundraiser, and mentor during his career. Avant was the manager for Little Willie John and Jimmy Smith before launching Sussex Records, representing Bill Withers. Avant also served as the executive producer for “Save the Children,” a concert that was filmed at Reverend Jese Jackson’s PUSH Black Expo.  

RELATED: Women’s Hall of Fame honors Aretha Franklin, Morrison, Lacks 

John Sykes, the Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, said, “This diverse class of talented inductees reflects the Rock Hall’s ongoing commitment to honor artists whose music created the sound of youth culture. It will make for an unforgettable live celebration of music in October at this year’s Induction Ceremony in Cleveland.”  

The induction ceremony will take place on October 30, 2021, in Cleveland, Ohio. The event will air later on HBO and HBO Max.  


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