After skipping a full-on ceremony in 2020 due to the pandemic, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Gala returned in full force to Cleveland, OH on Saturday night, ushering in three long-deserving female acts in the same night: Carole King, Tina Turner and The Go-Go’s. Taylor Swift had the honor of opening the ceremony by inducting King, who’s been a huge musical influence on her.
—Taylor, wearing a lacy black bodysuit, performed King’s composition “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” which was a number-one hit for The Shirelles before King herself recorded it for her iconic 1971 album Tapestry. “I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know Carole King’s music,” Taylor told the crowd during her induction speech, adding that her parents raised her to believe King was “the greatest songwriter of all time.”
“Her songs speak to the true and honest feelings that everyone has felt, is currently feeling, or hopes to feel one day,” Taylor said, adding that the release of Tapestry was a “watershed moment for humans in the world who have feelings and for cats who had big dreams of one day ending up on iconic album covers.”
“Carole taught artists like me that telling your own story is worth the work and struggle it takes to earn the opportunity for your story to be heard,” Taylor noted. “She created the purest works of love and strength and catharsis while navigating the politics of an era that didn’t make space for the idea of a female genius. Slowly but surely, Carole King worked and worked until she had created one. And it will be hers forever.”
King, who’d already been inducted as a songwriter in 1990, thanked Taylor for “carrying the torch,” and called her “my professional granddaughter.” Jennifer Hudson then took the stage to perform “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” followed by King herself leading the crowd in a singalong of “You’ve Got a Friend.”
—Angela Bassett, star of the Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It, inducted Turner for the second time — she had already been inducted in 1991 as one half of Ike & Tina Turner. Among the artists paying tribute to Turner: Christina Aguilera, who performed a stunning rendition of the Ike & Tina Turner classic, “River Deep, Mountain High.”
—Drew Barrymore inducted the pioneering all-female band the Go-Go’s, and recreated the cover of their album Beauty and the Beat by wrapping herself in a bath towel and applying face cream. “Beauty and the Beat blew the doors of my life off,” she told the crowd, adding, “They made me believe in things that weren’t possible.”
–Other honorees included JAY-Z, inducted by Dave Chappelle, and Foo Fighters, inducted by Paul McCartney. LL Cool J was honored with the Musical Excellence Award and after being inducted by Dr. Dre, he performed his hits with help from Eminem and Jennifer Lopez.
The ceremony will air on HBO on November 20.
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