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Rock Hall nominees Missy Elliot, George Michael, Willie Nelson vie for induction in 2023

Nikola Spasenoski, Sodel Vladyslav and Sterling Munksgard
Missy Elliott, George Michael and Willie Nelson are among the 2023 nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

This year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot is out with a slate of nominees reflecting the diversity of popular music.

For 2023, musicians and critics will consider 14 nominees for induction to the museum in Cleveland: George Michael, Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, the White Stripes, Sheryl Crow, Iron Maiden, Joy Division/New Order, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, the Spinners, A Tribe Called Quest and Warren Zevon.

Rock Hall nominees 2023.jpg
Sony Music, Goldmind/Elektra Records, EMI, Jive Records
The Rock Hall has defined rock and roll as the collision of R&B, country and gospel - reflected in the ballot for the Class of 2023.

The list reflects what Rock Hall CEO Greg Harris said is “a spirit that is inclusive and ever-changing,” as the music was born from “the collision of rhythm & blues, country and gospel.”

Acts are eligible for the Rock Hall 25 years after the release of their first record. Fans can also vote for their favorites online. In recent years, artists such as Todd Rundgren, Yes and Dolly Parton have garnered strong fan support. From the nominees, a half-dozen artists are usually chosen for induction. Behind-the-scenes executives and record producers are also typically named with the final list of 2023 inductees, set to be announced in May along with the location for this year’s ceremony.

This year's class also reflects a growing recognition of acts from the 1980s and '90s. We've got diversity in gender. We've got diversity in race and ethnicity. And a span all the way from Willie Nelson... to Missy Elliott," said Laura Maidens, Rock Hall archives librarian. "We're moving out of vinyl and into the compact disk era."

As Maidens and her team begin collecting materials to tell the story of this year's inductees, she said it's important to expand the definition of rock. "Rock 'n roll is a spirit," Maidens said. "It's not only defined by youth culture, but it also defines youth culture. So we need to know what the kids are into."

Changing venues

The event was held at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel every January from 1986-98, except in 1993 when it took place at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. After much lobbying by Northeast Ohio leaders, the induction was held at the Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland in May 1997. The ceremony then moved back to the Waldorf from 1999-2008, usually held in mid-March.

After that - from 2009 until the COVID-19 pandemic - the ceremonies generally took place in April with one year at Cleveland’s Public Hall followed by two years in New York City. The Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles hosted the 2013 event. In 2020, the inductees were honored virtually.

Since then, the event has moved to the fall. Rock Hall Foundation Chairman John Sykes has said it should rotate among L.A., New York and Cleveland – and possibly London and Nashville, as well.

The 2021 induction was held in Cleveland in at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse:

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.