The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum


women who rock :: Blog

Summer in the City: Interview with Sharon Van Etten

Tuesday, August 21: 9:33 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Sharon Van Etten performs live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio

With her 2009 debut album, Because I Was in Love, New Jersey–native Sharon Van Etten captured the attention of audiences, critics and musicians, who were drawn to her intimate musical portraits etched with introspective lyrics and varied arrangements. Since Van Etten's acclaimed 2010 release Epic, she's played the Pitchfork Music Festival, performed at the Hollywood Bowl with Neko Case, appeared live on the BBC and was recently named a "must-see act" by Rolling Stone. Her latest album, 2012's Tramp, was recorded during a 14-month period of scattered sessions, where the only constant was the garage studio and input of producer Aaron Dessner of the National. Here, the Rock Hall catches up with the singer/songwriter, who shares insights about life on the road, why she loves playing in New York City and what people can expect of her live performances. Sharon Van Etten will headline a free concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 22, 2012, part of the Summer in the City concert series. 

Rock Hall: How would you describe your music to somebody who has never heard it before?

Sharon Van Etten: My style ...


continue Categories: Summer in the City, Exclusive Interviews

Interview with 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Wanda Jackson

Thursday, August 16: 11:30 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Wanda Jackson talks about her conversations with Elvis Presley

In February 2009, a who's who from the world of rock and roll convened in Clear Lake, Iowa, for the Fifty Winters Later series of events honoring the anniversary of the tragic deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, whose plane crashed in Clear Lake on February 3, 1959. As part of the weeklong celebration of those pioneering rockers, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's education department led a number of interviews and panel discussions, featuring the likes of Maria Elena Holly, Graham Nash, Sir Tim Rice, Geezer Butler, the Crickets and more. 

On February 2, Rock Hall VP of education and public programs Lauren Onkey interviewed Wanda Jackson in Clear Lake as part of the Rock Hall's Hall of Fame Series. "I was just doing straight country, and that's all I had ever planned on doing," explained Jackson of her early days performing. "[Elvis] started talking to me about his kind of music – we didn't really have a name for it at that point. I said look, I love it of course, but you're a guy, you can sing it, and I just don't think ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Education, Exclusive Interviews

Spotlight Exhibit: Bonnie Raitt's Jacket and Fender Stratocaster

Monday, August 6: 12 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Bonnie Raitt's signature Fender Stratocaster

From her self-titled debut album in 1971, Bonnie Raitt has established herself as a virtuoso blues musician who sings blues with gritty passion and plays slide guitar with authority, as if the genre’s fundamentals had been etched in her soul. With mentors that included Sippie Wallace, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Son House, Raitt has demonstrated a studied reverence for old-school country-blues tempered with a contemporary outlook and willingness to experiment. She recorded eight albums for Warner Bros. Records from 1971 to 1986, progressively moving from straight blues into more pop-oriented areas without losing sight of her roots. Raitt's move to Capitol Records was followed by her 1989 breakthrough Nick of Time, which netted four Grammy Awards in 1990 and prompted her to note: “It means so much for the kind of music that we do. It means that those of us who do rhythm & blues are going to get a chance again.”

In this clip, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum VP of exhibitions and curatorial Jim Henke shares the story behind the development and impact of Bonnie Raitt's signature Fender Stratocaster and the jacket she was wearing on one of the most rewarding ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Exhibit, Spotlight Exhibit

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Let's Talk About Sex"

Wednesday, February 15: 3:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Salt-n-Pepa's "Let's Talk About Sex" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

On February 15, DJ Spinderella of Salt-n-Pepa will participate in an interview and lead a DJ demonstration performance as part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Ladies First: Celebrating African-American Women Who Rock  programming throughout Black History Month. The event starts at 7 pm, and will be viewable via live stream here.

Back in 1988, John McCready wrote in England's New Musical Express: "After Salt-n-Pepa, women in rap don't need to act like men in reverse. They have created a space of their own and the future is wide open." They were prophetic words as more than 25 years after their debut single, "The Show Stopper," Salt-n-Pepa rank among the most successful female groups in hip-hop history. Sandy "Salt" Denton, Cheryl "Pepa" James and DJ Spinderella (Dee Dee Roper) created an impressive string of best-sellers, capped by 1991's "Let's Talk About Sex" (Blacks' Magic) – an upbeat pop-rap song that expressed surprisingly frank and thoughtful opinions about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, media censorship of sexual imagery and the complex emotions bound up with the physical act (Let's tell it how it is, and how it could be / How it ...


continue Categories: Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

Spotlight Exhibit: Loretta Lynn

Friday, February 10: 2:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Loretta Lynn's 1975 album Back To The Country contained the controversial track "The Pill."

For more than four decades, Loretta Lynn has delivered honest narratives with a country spirit on recordings from 1963's Loretta Lynn Sings to the Jack White–produced Van Lear Rose in 2004. On stage, she simultaneously projects a profound confidence and demure sensibility,  as her polished voice carried lyrics with a decidedly rock and roll swagger. She is the inspiration for countless musicians – male and female – who are empowered by her ability to capture the issues of the day in songs that opened the doors to candid reflections on taboo topics.

Lynn didn’t begin playing music until her mid-twenties, though she married Oliver Lynn, nicknamed “Mooney,” when she was 13. They had six children and were married nearly 50 years until his death in 1996. After years spent raising her family, Lynn began singing in various local bands, eventually attracting the attention of independent record label Zero Records. Within a year, Lynn signed to Decca, one of the biggest labels in the country. Taken under the wing of Patsy Cline, Lynn began to blossom into a major recording star. Including her duets with Conway Twitty, Lynn posted more than 50 Top 10 country hits between 1962 and ...


continue Categories: Spotlight Exhibit

Women Who Rock: 10 Essential Punk Songs

Monday, January 30: 5 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Siouxsie Sioux

Many women found a new voice and musical identity during the punk-rock explosion of the Seventies. The anti-establishment philosophy of the punk rock movement was the perfect fit for those female musicians who still felt like outsiders in the male-dominated music industry. Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth said, “I think women are natural anarchists, because you're always operating in a male framework.” Patti Smith paved the way at legendary punk venue CBGB in New York City with her fusion of experimental poetry and garage rock. British female punk rockers, such as the Slits, Raincoats, Siouxsie and the Banshees and X-Ray Spex responded to working-class discontent and racial division in Britain. Across the Atlantic, in the United States, musicians including Deborah Harry of Blondie, Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads and Poison Ivy of the Cramps added new sounds and ideas to the punk rock formula. “That was the beauty of the punk thing: [sexual] discrimination didn’t exist in that scene,” once noted Chrissie Hynde. Here the Rock Hall presents Women Who Rock: 10 Essential Punk Songs. 

1. Patti Smith – "Piss Factory"

Patti Smith was dubbed the "godmother of punk," a moniker with merit. Smith's debut single was ...


continue Categories: 10 Essential Songs

An Evening With Rosie Flores and "the Female Elvis"

Tuesday, January 24: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Janis Martin

Dubbed "the female Elvis," Virginia native Janis Martin's sobriquet alone fostered great expectations for the young performer in the 1950s. As the fusion of R&B and country evolved into rockabilly, and a charge of primarily male artists heralded its arrival, she was a rarity – though her musicianship, charismatic stage persona and a series of memorable recordings meant the annals of history would not dismiss her as a novelty. 

A precocious performer reared in a family of musicians, Martin's earliest experiences singing and playing guitar came before she reached her teens. Although initially drawn to country music, Martin's exposure to R&B in the Fifties proved captivating, and the resulting genre-blending sound she cultivated was enough to pique the interest of RCA/Victor, who signed her when she was 15 years old. "Victor, having taken the gamble with Presley and emerged a winner, has now come up with the 'Female Elvis Presley.' This lass is Janis Martin, and her first disk, 'Will You, Willyum' is already getting sales action in all fields," noted the May 12, 1956 issue of Billboard. From roughly 1956 through 1960, Martin recorded and released numerous cuts – from the suitably rocking original ...


continue Categories: Inductee, Education, Foster Theatre, Event

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Prove It On Me Blues"

Thursday, January 12: 10 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Ma Rainey's "Prove It On Me Blues" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

The so-called Mother of the Blues, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey was one of the form's most assertive female artists. She was a true pioneer who openly flouted convention and challenged mores on record and the road, performing at barrelhouses, juke joints, dance halls and speakeasies during the 1920s. If "Prove It On Me Blues" were released today, it may carry a parental advisory sticker for its racy content. Penned by Rainey and recorded with her Tub Jug Washboard Band for the Paramount label in 1928, the song recounts a lesbian love affair. Filled with explicit sexual references, it dares listeners to "find proof" of any immorality or illegality. "Prove It On Me Blues" was also deemed an attack on men, though Rainey was bi-sexual. In one verse she defiantly exclaims, "They must've been women, 'cause I don't like no men." Rainey wrote a number of provocative blues songs with frank, liberated lyrics that sang of her experiences  – and sexual liberation was a favored topic. "Prove It On Me Blues" lashed out prophetically against bigotry and male oppression. Rainey and other 1920s black female blues artists decried such hatred and inspired blues-loving rock singers like Janis Joplin to ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll
Page 1 of 4. next