Whitney Houston and The Notorious B.I.G. were among the musical artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 7. The two icons were honored posthumously by friends, family, and fellow musicians during a virtual ceremony that featured many pre-taped segments.
Rock Hall President and CEO Greg Harris described this year’s class of inductees as “super diverse”
“What it does is it underscores that rock and roll was never just four skinny guys with long hair and guitars,” Harris said.
“I think Whitney is a great example. When people talk about the diversity of rock and roll and the diversity of music and sound,” Harris said, describing Houston as “the greatest voice of her generation.”
R&B star Alicia Keys gave a touching induction speech for Houston, whom she wrote a song for on the former’s final album.
“We all know what a miraculous singer Whitney was, perhaps the greatest voice of our all-time. We all know how her unprecedented success brought Black women into the absolute highest reaches of the music industry’s pantheon,” said Keys.
“We all know that her music will live forever — that music, that everlasting voice is her final generous gift to us. And she will now be one of the brightest lights ever to shine in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
Accepting the award on her behalf were her mother and aunt, Cissy and Pat Houston, respectively.
“This is something that Whitney always wanted,” said Pat Houston. “I remember in 2009 we were in London and Whitney looked at me and said, ‘This is really special but there’s only one thing missing — I got to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.’”
She added, “I always try to use Whitney’s words. And I always say I would never do what she didn’t want or wouldn’t want us to do. But she said herself, music isn’t black or white. It’s just music.”
Houston, who died at age 48 in 2012, recently became the first Black solo artist to have three diamond-certified albums.
Before his death in 1997 at the age of 24, The Notorious B.I.G. had sped to the top of the rap charts, often accompanied by his partner and friend Diddy, who inducted him.
“Nobody has come close to the way Biggie sounds, to the way he raps, to the frequency that he hits. Tonight, we are inducting the greatest rapper of all-time,” Diddy said.
The Notorious B.I.G.’s son and daughter, C.J. and T’yanna Wallace, accepted on his behalf.
C.J. Wallace said that his father would not be able to imagine the current popularity of the rap, considering the barriers the genre originally faced.
“Hip hop and rock were both, you know, underground music. Underground music that was really pushed away from the masses for a long time. It took a while for rock to get its respect, too,” he said. “I don’t even think my dad would have been able to be truly believe where his music is going now.”
Harris said that the days of rap being overlooked are long gone and that including the accolades for these artists have been overdue. “We’re past the point of discussing should rap be in or not. We have a bunch of rap artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They bring the voice of change. It’s an attitude. It’s a spirit. And he’s one of the greatest lyricists in one of the greatest and delivering it too,” he said.
Normally, the Rock Hall’s yearly induction ceremony takes place each May at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, however, plans changed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.