If you peruse the inductees of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you’d have a tough time finding female rock artists. Sure, it features greats like Etta James, Janis Joplin, Patti Smith, Aretha Franklin, and Blondie. But what about Joan Jett, Tracy Chapman, Ella Fitzgerald, and Heart? Clearly, there are gaping holes in the Hall of Fame’s list.
Perhaps in an effort to ameliorate this problem, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is set to hold the world’s first exhibit devoted solely to the female heavy-hitters of rock music. It’s about damn time. On May 13, the museum will open its doors for Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power, celebrating the “important roles women have played” in rock and roll music. The interactive exhibit, showcasing over 60 artists, spans two museum floors with its documentation of the female pioneers since the 20th century.
Women Who Rock will feature eight eras of women in music, with exhibits ranging from “Suffragettes to Juke-Joint Mamas: The Foremothers/Roots of Rock” with Ma Rainey and Mahalia Jackson, to “Revolution, the Counterculture and the Pill: The Late 1960s” featuring Joni Mitchell and Carole King, all the way up to “Ladies First: The ‘90s and the New Millennium” with a focus on riot grrrl, hip-hop and Lilith Fair, with artists Bikini Kill, Queen Latifah, and Lady Gaga.
A sample of some of the items in the exhibit collection:
Patti Smith’s boots
The following day will feature a benefit concert performed by Cyndi Lauper, Wanda Jackson, and other influential females in rock.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame truly appears to be making a concerted effort to spotlight the powerhouses and underrated female artists of the last 8 decades, and plans to keep the exhibit open until February of next year. Even further, the Museum will unveil its exhibit, Girls on Film: 40 Years of Women in Rock, on Valentine’s Day, which will highlight the work of photographers Anastasia Pantsios and Annie Leibovitz, and their subjects, Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, Patti Smith, Joan Jett, and Tina Turner. All this attention on female rock musicians? A girl could definitely get used to this.
Who would you like to see in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s exhibit?