On Saturday night, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame officially welcomed their 2018 induction class–including Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, and The Cars–at a lavish ceremony at Cleveland’s Public Hall. As always, the night was filled with star-studded performances celebrating the evening’s guests of honor.
Other than special “Early Influencer” inductee Sister Rosetta Tharpe, none of the 2018 inductees date back farther than Nina Simone, who was born in 1933 and passed away more than a decade ago. The legendary singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist’s work continues to be directly referenced and reimagined in modern music by everyone from Michael Buble to Kanye West, though until this year she had somehow not been nominated since her first year of eligibility in ’86. Simone was inducted in a speech by Mary J. Blige.
To honor Simone’s induction and legacy, the best backing band in the business–The Roots–held down the stage as modern-day vocal powerhouses Andra Day and Lauryn Hill each performed multiple selections from Nina’s extensive catalog, from hopeful anthems like “Feeling Good” to emotionally fraught protest songs like “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free”.
Nina Simone’s music and the societal weight it carried had a profound impact on Andra Day, as it did on virtually every vocalist who followed her–particularly due to its socially conscious nature. Speaking of iconic Simone protest song “Mississippi Goddamn“, Day told Grammy.com in a 2017 interview, “It was a fight song for NinaIt ended up being an incredible anthem. She really rebelled against people who advised her against doing music like that. She was willing to say what was important at the time to the detriment of her own career. To me, that’s the definition of an artist.”
Below, you can watch videos of Andra Day and Lauryn Hill paying tribute to the late, great Nina Simone at her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony:
The Roots, Andra Day – Nina Simone Tribute -“I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction
The Roots, Andra Day – Nina Simone Tribute – “I Put A Spell On You” – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction
The Roots, Lauryn Hill – Nina Simone Tribute – “Ne Me Quitte Pas”, “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair”, “Feeling Good” – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction
[H/T Rolling Stone]