Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Nina Simone are 2018 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tharpe was an early pioneer of rock becoming a star in the 1940’s with her hits “Rock Me” and “Strange Things Happening Every Day.” She was one of the first successful gospel artists to enter the mainstream with a sound that had a heavy secular influence. Her mastery of the guitar and the use of distortion made her the first guitar hero of rock. Little Richard received his first break from as a child and Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Issac Hayes and Jerry Lee Lewis were all influenced by Tharpe. Those achievements have gotten her labeled as the Godmother Of Rock and the Hall of Fame has inducted her into the category of Early Influences.
Nina Simone’s jazz, folk and classical informed style was enlivened by a voice in search of social justice. Her song “Mississippi Goddamn” reflected the Civil Rights struggle in the United States and was inspired by the murder of Medgar Evers and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four little girls. She later recorded “To Be Young, Gifted And Black” and “Four Women” which also were a response to the racism of the times. Simone is being inducted into the category of Performers.