Music

Women Who Rock: Legendary Female Musicians Who Should Be Added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Soon after welcoming in a brand new decade The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its 35th annual class of inductees. Since 1986, making it to this list has been recognized as one of music’s highest honors. Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record and the criteria are based on their influence on the development and conservation of rock and roll.

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The six musical acts to receive this honor for 2020 are Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G. and T-Rex, with Houston being the only woman to make the cut. This clear gender imbalance is not a new one. That’s not to say that rock and roll hasn’t seen its fair share of talented female acts. In fact, there are plenty of well-deserving female icons from rock and roll history who have yet to be added to the esteemed Hall of Fame.

Carly Simon

Singer, songwriter Carly Simon first rose to fame in the 1970s and has collected an impressive amount of prestigious awards and accolades throughout her career. Somehow, however, amongst the Grammy Award wins and nominations, the countless top ten singles, and Lifetime Achievement Awards, Simon has not made it on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Despite being eligible since 1996, a whole 24 years after the release of her most recognizable single, “You’re so Vain,” she still has not made the cut. The same cannot be said however of her ex-husband James Taylor who was inducted in 2000. The reason why she has yet to be included remains a mystery.

Salt-N-Pepa

Rarely can one discuss the 90s without mentioning this legendary hip-hop group, Salt-N-Pepa, whose songs never fail to make us get up and dance. Group members Cheryl James (Salt), Sandra Denton (Pepa) and Deidra Roper (DJ Spinderella) released their single “Push It” in 1987 and they’ve been a hit worldwide ever since.

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Their debut album, Hot Cool & Vicious sold so many copies worldwide that they became the first female rap act to achieve gold and platinum status. Their fourth album, Very Necessary, became the highest-earning album by a rap group in history. Somehow though, these history makers, honorably known as “The First Ladies of Rap and Hip Hop,” have yet to be inducted in the Hall of Fame despite being eligible since 2011.

Barbra Streisand

Here’s a face and name that every film enthusiast will recognize. Before legendary actress Barbra Streisand dominated the silver screen, she had a very successful career as a recording artist. In fact, she is one of few who have earned an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony and a Peabody award.

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Streisand has recorded 50 studio albums since the start of her career in the 1960s. Near the end of the 1970s, Streisand had become one of the most successful singers in the U.S., with record sales beating out everyone other than Elvis Presley and The Beatles. For decades, Streisand has earned countless awards, nominations, and accolades for her music but has yet to be inducted to the prestigious Hall of Fame.

Lucinda Williams

This Louisiana girl has lived for music from a very early age and it didn’t take long for her to pick up a guitar and begin writing her own songs. She began performing when she was in her early 20s and made her breakthrough into the mainstream world in 1998 when she was 31.

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Since then she has earned two Grammy Awards, Two American Awards, has earned her spot on VH1’s list of “100 Greatest Women in Rock n Roll,” as well as Rolling Stone’s list of “Greatest Songwriters of All Time.” Despite her success both in the rock and country scene, her spot on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has yet to be reserved.

Carla Thomas

Known as the Queen of Memphis Soul, Carla Thomas has been eligible for the Hall of Fame since 1986. Thomas was one of the very first artists to cut a record at the legendary Stax Recording Studio. Her duet with her father, Rufus Thomas, “Cause I Love You,” was a hit and exposed a brand new audience to the world of R&B and soul.

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Soon after, with the release of her 1960’s single, “Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes),” Thomas became a national sensation. She continued to have success throughout the 60s and today still stands as one of the icons of soul music. However, her reputation and success have yet to earn her a spot on the Hall of Fame.

Julie London

Actress and songstress Julie London has released over 40 albums throughout her music career during the 50s and 60s. She is known across the globe for her sultry and smoky vocals which many, including contemporary artist Lana Del Rey, have since tried to emulate.

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All in all, London is considered one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Her well known single, “Cry Me a River,” was ranked number 48 on NPR’s list of “50 Greatest Jazz Vocals of All Time.” However, she is still nowhere to be found on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Bjork

This Icelandic singer/songwriter has been dominating the music scene for over four decades now. With her unique style and eclectic music style, Bjork has certainly made a name for herself in the industry. She has had 31 singles reach several top 40 charts around the world and has sold over 30 million records worldwide.

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Bjork has been named on both Time’s list of “100 Most Influential People in The World” and Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Singer and Songwriters” list. Her music, both from her time with the alternative rock band The Sugarcubes and through her solo career has certainly made an international impact. Nevertheless, she has yet to get that call from the Hall of Fame.

Patsy Cline

As the first artist to successfully crossover from country to pop, Patsy Cline has certainly made her mark on music history. Not only has she had several major hits throughout her career, but she is also considered by many as one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. Cline’s career moves and sound have influenced many modern-day artists across a variety of genres.

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She especially made a huge impact on the country music scene, becoming one of the first country artists to headline concerts and experience such great commercial success. Today, over 50 years since her passing, music is still being influenced by Patsy Cline’s legacy. All that being said, Cline has not made the cut for the Hall of Fame.

Dolly Parton

This one will probably come as a shock to many. Legendary country artist Dolly Parton was hugely responsible for shaping the way for Southern women and women across the globe to express themselves and have their voices heard. If that’s not what rock and roll is all about, then we don’t know what is.

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Not only that but she is also one of the pioneers when it comes to country-pop crossovers. Parton saw success in both genres and has composed numerous chart-topping, award-winning hits. Although many musicians who have covered her original songs have been inducted, Parton herself has yet to receive that call.

Fanny

For whatever reason, many have forgotten about this 70s rock group which pioneered the way for many all-female girl bands that followed. Fanny was one of the first all-female rock groups to achieve both critical and commercial success.

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This group of female rockers provided a huge motive and influence to future groups such as The Runaways and The Bangles, to only name a couple. They also caught the attention of prominent male acts such as The Beatles and David Bowie. Sadly this was not enough to earn them a spot in The Hall of Fame.

Mariah Carey

This songbird has been hitting her iconic high notes since 1989 and has not stopped coming out with chart-topping hits since. In fact, Billboard named Carey the most successful artist of the 1990s and the Worlds Music Awards honored her as the best-selling female artist of the millennium.

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In short, Mariah Carey basically defined the music of the 90s, not to mention the ongoing influence she has on the Christmas season. No holiday is complete without listening to “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on repeat. With all that in mind, you would think that Carey would be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame but unfortunately, she has yet to be deemed worthy.

The Runaways

Although guitarist Joan Jett received the honor back in 2015, the same cannot be said for the all-female rock band which skyrocketed her to fame. The Runaways released four studio albums throughout the latter half of the 1970s.

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They are well known for their hit single “Cherry Bomb,” which brought them a huge overseas fan base. They were a big part of the punk rock movement which was mostly made up of all-male ensembles. Despite this significance and the clear influence they had on female rockers that followed, The Runaways have not found their place in the Hall of Fame.

Janis Martin

As one of the few women in the male-dominated rock and roll scene of the 50s and one of the first females to dominate the country music genre, Janis Martin definitely made her mark on history. So much so that she even earned the nickname of Female Elvis. A name bestowed on her by the King of Rock himself.

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At age 15, Martin was already topping the charts. After kicking off, she began appearing on shows like The Today Show and American Bandstand and was one of the youngest performers to appear on the Grand Ole Opry. She was even invited to tour alongside Elvis but was forced to turn down the offer. Martin might have impressed the King but it was not enough to make her an inductee.

Connie Francis

This pop singer set the pace for the mainstream sound that we still know and love today. Francis was topping the charts in the 50s and 60s and has been doing her thing even up until this last decade. She is still active as a recording artist and some of her singles such as “Stupid Cupid,” is still considered a hit today.

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As the Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift of her generation, Francis came to embody the teenage yearning that rock and roll thrives off of. In 1958, after the release of her single, “Who’s Sorry Now?” Francis was voted Best Female Vocalist by American Bandstand for four years in a row. Despite the gold records and worldwide recognition, Francis was also left off the list of Hall of Fame inductees.

Pat Benatar

Whether you realize it or not, you probably know the words to at least one Pat Benatar song. The four-time Grammy Award winner has come out with a string of chart-topping hits including, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”, “Love Is a Battlefield” and “We Belong.”

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Benatar has seen nothing but success since her late 70s debut. She has earned two multi-platinum albums, five platinum albums, three gold albums, and 15 Billboard Top 40 singles. Although this rock icon was nominated for 2020 induction to the Hall of Fame, she did not make the mark.

Roberta Flack

At the start of the 1970s, the world was lucky enough to be introduced to the heart touching voice of Roberta Flack. Since then, we just could not get enough of her soulful tunes and alluring sound. In 1974, Flack became the first solo artist to win the Grammy Award for Record of The Year two years in a row

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In addition, she has earned two more Grammy Awards as well as an American Music Award. She is known for chart-topping singles like, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”

Miriam Makeba

Zenzile Miriam Makeb, known to the world as Mama Africa, was the South African singer hugely responsible for connecting Africa to the West. She was one of the first African musicians to receive global recognition and played a huge part in popularizing the Afropop genre.

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For Makeba, these moves were not just about the music. She became heavily involved in the civil rights movement and was a strong advocate against apartheid. As emphasized by South African President Nelson Mandela, Makeba’s music “inspired a powerful sense of hope in all.” But alas, this strong-hearted songstress with the voice of an angel is nowhere to be found on the Hall of Fame.

Sandy Denny

Sandy Denny is credited with defining English folk-rock through her time lead singing for the band Fairport Convention. She later embarked on a successful solo career which inspired 1970s rock queens like Ann Wilson and Stevie Nicks.

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Throughout the 70s’, Denny released four solo albums and was also featured in Led Zeppelin’s album, Led Zeppelin IV. Although her life was cut short in 1978, at the age of 31, her music lives on. Her songs have been rerecorded by notable artists and her recorded work has been reissued several times over. Denny’s legacy is irrefutable however she is also left off the list of honorable inductees.

Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn has been a driving force in the country world. She is not only the most celebrated female country recording artist but is also the only female ACM Artist of the Decade, which she earned in the 1970s. With a career spanning 60 years, Lynn has released 24 No. 1 hit singles.

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At 87 years old, she continues to tour still today. She has won three Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards and a long list of other prestigious accolades. She remains a huge influence both as a female artist and as a country act but her name is not included in the Hall of Fame.

Sheryl Crow

Singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow is another star that needs no introduction. Crow’s albums have earned an impressive collection of nine Grammy Awards and have sold over 50 million units worldwide. She is well known for her hits singles, “All I Wanna Do”, “If It Makes You Happy” and “My Favorite Mistake.”

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If that wasn’t enough to get her on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then get this; in 1999, Gibson, the iconic guitar manufacturer introduced a specialized Sheryl Crow model in honor of the singer. In 2013, Gibson introduced yet another limited edition model. Now, what’s more rock and roll than that?

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Here’s one of history’s most fearless voices. As folks first female leading artists, Buffy Sainte-Marie was never afraid to think outside the box and pursue never before sounds in music. For example, her 1969 album Illuminations was the first to employ quadraphonic vocals and was one of the first synth-driven albums ever.

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In addition to her long list of accolades, Sainte-Marie was also the first indigenous person to take home an Oscar. As a powerful social activist, Buffy’s writings often spoke about love, war, religion, and equality. She used her music to send an important message to the world and inspired others to follow in her footsteps.

The Dixie Chicks

When it comes to shaking up a genre, The Dixie Chicks are definitely worth an honorable mention. Known for challenging the traditional style of country music, this Texas trio won over millions of hearts both in and out of the country music fan base.

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Since their popularity kicked off in the early 90s, The Dixie Chicks have collected 13 Grammy wins. They quickly became the top-selling all-female band and the biggest-selling country group of their time and still proudly hold this standing today.

Kate Bush

In 1978 Kate Bush became the first female musician to top the UK charts with a self-written song. Her debut single “Wuthering Heights” achieved number one status for four weeks in a row. Bush was only 19 at the time. Since then she has released 25 UK top 40 singles with all 10 of her studio albums reaching UK top 10.

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Not only was she the first female artist to top those charts, but she is also the first female artist to enter the album chart at number one. We don’t know about you, but to us, this sounds as rock and roll as it gets. Her music has influenced countless artists that have followed her. Although she was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2018, she did not quite make the mark.

PJ Harvey

This instrumental queen has been serenading audiences since the late eighties. After spending a few years as part of a couple of musical groups, in 1995, Harvey decided to embark on her solo career. She has seen considerable success and earned a great number of accolades since then.

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In 1995 she Rolling Stone named her “Artist of the Year” and listed her album as one of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. In addition to her ability to play a wide range of instruments, Harvey is also praised for her expansive contralto vocal range. Her talent and rock and roll image is irrefutable but the Hall of Fame has yet to include her on their list.

Karen Carpenter

From the late 60s to the mid-80s, Karen Carpenter was one piece of the hit duo, The Carpenters. As part of this musical collaboration she had with her brother Richard, Karen offered both beautiful contralto vocals and amazing drumming skills. Although she passed away at the young age of 32, her contribution to the music scene continues to receive its much earned praise.

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In 2010, she was honored by Rolling Stone as one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.” Carpenter’s legacy has influenced several big-name rockers, including Madonna, Sheryl Crow, and Shania Twain to name a few. She has also been praised as one of the voices of all time by icons like Paul McCartney and Elton John.

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah first realized her love for music when she was just a teenager in the late 80s. She began beat-boxing for the group Ladies Fresh and her music career kicked off from there. It didn’t take long for her to make her mark on hip hop and to become a huge influence for women across all genres of both film and music.

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Latifah is considered to be one of hip hop’s pioneer feminists. Throughout her career, she has earned a Grammy, an Emmy and a Golden Globe Award. She has sold over millions of records worldwide, has been dubbed as the “Queen of Jazz-Rap” and was the first hip-hop artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Valerie Simpson

Husband and wife duo Ashford & Simpson graced us with countless hit songs throughout their career. Thanks to them we now have songs like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need To Get By,” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” and “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).”

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Since the early 60s, the duo found success both as songwriters and as recording artists. Simpson also released three solo LPs, which included songs which were later sampled by 50 Cent and 9th Wonder. Although Ashford & Simpson were inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Simpson’s influence as a performer has yet to be recognized.

Roxanne Shante

At just fourteen years old, Queensbridge native Roxanne Shante had already become a pioneer in hip hop and had begun paving the way for women in rap. She has not only made a name for herself as a woman in a male-dominated industry but has also made waves for music as a whole.

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Her recording of Roxanne’s Revenge is cited as the first-ever battle response song recorded and released in the history of hip-hop. This history-making recording would go on to sell more than 250,000 copies, kick-starting the most infamous feuds in hip-hop and defining a genre for years to follow.

Emmylou Harris

Grammy lifetime achievement award winner Emmylou Harris was a huge player in establishing the influence of California country-rock. She has won 14 Grammys in addition to numerous other prestigious accolades. Her influence on the country music scene has long spilled over into rock and other genres.

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Harris reinvented her sound in the late 70s, merging country with rock but never let go of her country roots, releasing hit after hit single. The talented songstress has teamed up with some of the biggest names in the business. She has already been inducted in the Country Hall of Fame but is still waiting to receive the same honor in rock.

Alanis Morissette

Dubbed by Rolling Stone as “The Queen of Alt-Rock Angst” Alanis Morrissette has made her voice known to millions. Since the start of her career in the early 90s, she has sold more than 75 million records worldwide 

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Although she started her career in the dance-pop world, her move to rock is what skyrocketed her to fame. The 1995 release of Jagged Little Pill earned Morissette several Grammy Awards including Album of The Year and helped define the 90s era with its edgy, alternative sound.

Robyn

Swedish singer-songwriter, record producer and DJ, Robyn Carlsson made her way to worldwide audiences back near the end of the 90s. In doing so, she introduced a new way of making music, transforming pop with her imaginative electronic sound.

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Robyn has paved the way for pop stars who stray from the mainstream norm, successfully exposing a whole new class of listeners who would have otherwise shunned the genre. Young stars such as Lorde have since looked up to Robyn’s musical legacy and the industry continues to feel her influence.

Siouxsie Sioux

Best known as the lead singer of the rock band, Siouxsie and the Banshees and later The Creatures, British singer, songwriter, Siouxsie Sioux is recognized as one of the most influential British singers of the rock era. She has been praised by artists of many genres and has been covered by many huge names in the industry.

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Siouxsie Sioux or Susan Janet Ballion has been awarded for her contribution to music and for inspiring those acts that have taken after her. She has been hailed by female and male musicians alike as a career driving influence however she has not received a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Astrud Gilberto

Shaking things up South of the border was Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer Astrud Gilberto. While her fame might not equate to some of the other rock stars on this list, this does not mean she has not influenced the genre. Gilberto’s song “Girl from Ipanema” might have been what brought her music to the ears of American listeners, she proved to be way more than just that.

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Unknown to most, Brazilian music actually had a huge influence on the American soul, jazz and rock scene throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Gilberto’s music has been sampled by musicians from Frank Sinatra to the Black Eyed Peas and she has been featured in movies, tracks, and albums.

Sleater-Kinney

Rock trio recently turned duo Sleater-Kinney has become a key part of the American indie rock scene and is considered one of the essential rock groups of the early 2000s. The band currently consists of Corin Tucker on and Carrie Brownstein both on guitar and vocals, with past member Janet Weiss splitting ways with the group just this past year.

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Sleater-Kinney might be much newer to the scene than most others on this list but are still more than eligible to be honored with a Hall of Fame induction. They first originated as part of the riot grrl movement in the early 1990s, which gives women a voice to express themselves through music. Again, we can’t help but point out just how rock and roll that sounds!

Annie Lennox 

In the 1980s, Annie Lennox made waves through her popular duo with Dave Stewart called Eurythmics. By the early 90s, Lennox began her solo career which brought her even more worldwide fame. She produced several hit singles and earned four Grammy Awards.

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In addition to earning Billboard magazine’s highest honor, a Billboard Century Award she has also been named “The Greatest White Soul Singer Alive” by VH1 and one of “The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time” by Rolling Stone. Clearly she has made a huge impact in music however her place in the Rock Hall of Fame is still left unfilled.

Grace Jones

Born in Jamaica, Grace Jones started off her career as a model when she was only 13 years old, first in New York and later in Paris. By the end of the 70s, she began to pursue her career in music. She quickly became a star player in New York’s Studio 54 disco scene.

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By the 1980s Jone’s switched up her style urging the 80s era to move its way to the high point of its New Wave scene. Besides her game-changing music, she was also a huge player in the growing cross-dressing culture, offering inspiration to artists like Lady Gaga and Annie Lennox. Honored by many for her musical influence, Jones is definitely missing her spot in the Hall of Fame.

Gwen Stefani

Since making her debut as the lead singer of No Doubt, Gwen Stefani has dominated the music scene. The 1995 release of No Doubt’s breakthrough album, Don’t Speak means that Stefani is now officially eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Stefani is ranked by Billboard magazine as the 54th most successful artist of the 2000-2009 decade and has been honored by VH1 on their list of “100 Greatest Women in Music.”

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Both through her time with No Doubt and through her solo career, she has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and has earned several music awards. In 2005 Rolling Stone named her the “the only true female rock star left on radio or MTV.” We can’t wait to see if the Hall of Fame will also find her rock star enough to make their elite group of inductees.

Kylie Minogue

Australia’s “Princess of Pop,” Kylie Minogue earned her title as the highest-selling female Australian artist of all time. She began her pop takeover in the late 80s and by the early 90s, she already released several chart-topping singles.

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Since then Minogue has sold 70 million records worldwide and has received almost every award in the music world. Although she has earned a spot on the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame, the acclaimed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has yet to make the same move.

Cyndi Lauper

Although Lauper is featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museums “Women Who Rock Exhibit,” in Cleveland Ohio, she has yet to be officially inducted to the list of Hall of Famers. Throughout her 40 year career, Lauper has won numerous prestigious awards, has sold over 50 million records and her success has been recognized by MTV, VH1, and Rolling Stone.

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Her songs “Time after Time,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and “True Colors,” to name a few have all been deemed iconic and have defined the 80s era of music. Clearly, the Hall of Fame understands that she was and still is a big deal in music, so why hasn’t she been given the honor of becoming an inductee?