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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Opens Revolutionary Women in Music Exhibit

Lisa Loeb performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland to celebrate the grand opening of the new Revolutionary Women in Music exhibit.

To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame launched a new exhibit highlighting successful women in music. The Revolutionary Women In Music exhibit opened on March 8 and the event featured artists like Beyoncé, P!nk, Kesha, and Billie Eilish.
The Revolutionary Women in Music will examine the work of courageous, groundbreaking, rebellious musicians, from the 1970s to present day, who use songwriting, music, and performance to subvert societal norms, according to a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Press Release.

Some of the items on display include the clothing and instruments from Bjork and Britany Howard. Photos courtesy of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Also according to the press release, this revolutionary exhibit will be, “Spanning multiple genres, decades and generations, these musicians have challenged traditional gender roles; created inclusive, supportive communities that are respectful of women’s diverse experiences, identities, knowledge, and strengths; and empowered women to realize and embrace their authentic selves. The work of these women continues to not only tear down boundaries in the music industry but to shed light on social injustice throughout the world.”
The idea for this exhibit started between November and December of 2023. After the new year, the Rock Hall began taking action to bring this idea to life.
“My boss is the Vice President of Curatorial Affairs so she kind of came up with this idea of a really female-centric exhibit.” said Tessa Smith, Exhibit Design and Content Coordinator. “We’ve had one in the past but it’s been probably about a decade and we just felt like it was time to have one that really celebrated women and was made by women.”
This exhibit is unique in the way that the exhibit was designed and put together by women.
“We [exhibit workers] wanted it to be a very accurate representation of females in music by making it an exhibit that was made by women,” Smith said. “We wanted it to open on International Women’s Day, just so that kind of hit the nail on the head and really get the point across.”
One part of the exhibit is the artist’s artifacts section, which will feature outfits and other artifacts from famous female artists.
“We have this fantastic purple velvet coat from P!nk that is being suspended from the ceiling, which is something we’ve never done before. There’s also a matching set of Destiny’s Child outfits that were all designed by Beyoncé’s mom,” Smith said. “There’s an outfit from the White Stripes, that’s head to toe covered in black and white buttons and just has super cool details and it’s never, I don’t think we’ve ever displayed it all together at once. So there’s a lot of really cool artifacts that.”

Malina Moye, a rising rock guitar player, performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the grand opening of the Revolutionary Women in Music exhibit. Photo courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Other artists like Beyoncé, Meg White, Joan Jett, and Suzanne Vega will be featured in the exhibit.
“I think in general their hard work and dedication is very inspiring to other women and I think that they have had a huge impact on music and how they have to be innovative and have to be loud and be different just so that they can get the attention that they deserve,” Smith said.
Wadsworth’s Choir Directer Kalyn Davis has a similar opinion to Smith.
“I think a lot of times you’ll see rock bands and it’s all guys, or the drummer is a guy. But to be like oh look that drummer she’s a woman, might encourage [younger girls],” Davis said. “My kid was a percussionist last year, my daughter.”
Davis also believes that women in music are represented in a different way than their male counterparts.
“When was the last time you saw a halftime show where the female was just a singer? She’s got to be a full out dancer, she has to be that triple threat.” Davis said. “For men, if they are the featured singer, they can just have dancers, and a lot of them do dance. The women are just held to that higher standard.”
The exhibit opened on International Women’s Day. After the exhibit opens, there will be virtual tours of the new exhibit in both English and Spanish on the Rock Hall’s website.
Opening night for the new exhibit held a kick-off on March 7 that featured speeches and performances from Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Lisa Loeb, and Malina Moye.
“As the saying goes, well-behaved women rarely make history – and revolutionary women have often used music and lyrics to take action, convey truth, and call for change,” said Shelby Morrison, the Vice President of Curatorial Affairs in a Rock Hall Press Release. “For generations, women have fought against socially constructed gender norms to obtain equal social, political, and economic freedoms, and this exhibit, which has been decades in the making, will tell this story in a way that has never been done before.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Cleveland, Ohio. Tickets to tour the museum can be found at

2024 Women Rock Hall Nominees

Cher is the only woman to have a Number One hit on a Billboard chart in each of the past seven decades. Cher released the quintessential dance-pop classic “Believe” in 1998, pioneering the use of Auto-Tune as an artistic tool. This worldwide hit became an enduring queer anthem.
As a singer, songwriter, performer, and record producer, Mariah Carey’s dynamic career trajectory has had an enormous impact on the pop music landscape. Her accomplishments go well beyond record sales and charts. She co-founded Camp Mariah, where inner-city children explore creative interests.
The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige flipped the R&B world on its head. Her career dominance reveals impressive longevity – fourteen Top Ten studio albums, nine Grammy’s, and over fifty million albums sold. Blige’s music echoes our experiences with love and life. She helps us move on, move out, and move up.
With a career spanning four decades, Sade have blended jazz, soul, and R&B to create a sound that’s all their own – laid-back rhythms, elegant arrangements, melodic saxophone lines, and, of course, the smooth, sultry, mesmerizing vocals of their lead singer Sade Adu. Sade’s six albums have sold over 50 million copies.
The life and art of this Irish singer-songwriter and activist left an indelible mark on the soul of popular music. Musically, she combined stylistic elements from alternative rock, hip-hop, reggae, and electronic pop to punctuate and enhance her sociopolitical messages. O’Connor passed in 2023, but her impact remains.

Photos and information on nominees provided by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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Haley Reedy
Haley Reedy, Online Editor-in Chief
Haley has been on the staff for all four years of high school. She started out as a staff writer and wrote primarily news stories. Her junior year she was In-Depth Editor, during her time as editor she wrote stories about controversial issues around the school. Haley wants to go onto study journalism and eventually become a journalism advisor to student-run newspapers. Now as a senior, Haley runs The Bruin website as Online Editor-in-Chief. She controls what stories go up and when. Although Haley loves the printed edition of the paper, the use of algorithms and user interaction intrigues her.
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