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Aretha's Amazing Grace

Wednesday, November 2: 1 p.m.
Posted by Aaron Cohen
Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace (1972)

It’s a great thrill for me to attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s American Music Masters conference on the Queen of Soul on Saturday, November 5, and I’m grateful for the Rock Hall providing me this opportunity to discuss my new book about Aretha Franklin's Amazing Grace.

While Amazing Grace is Franklin's most accomplished and best-selling LP, it is also an album that's frequently overlooked – even among many of Franklin’s biggest fans. None of the songs on it became pop hits, nor were they intended to be. When she made this recording in 1972, just before her 30th birthday, her voice was at its peak. Her best band backed her, including the fantastic drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, who is also part of Saturday's conference and will be sitting in on drums during Saturday night's tribute concert at PlayhouseSquare's State Theater. She was collaborating with James Cleveland, leader of the Southern California Community Choir, and whose voice was as influential in gospel as Franklin's became in rock and soul. Most important, she recorded the album live, at a church in Los Angeles, and in doing so revisited the ...


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Reflections on Aretha Franklin with Melinda Doolittle

Friday, November 4: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Melinda Doolittle

Melinda Doolittle has performed as a backup singer for musical legends such as Michael McDonald, Aretha Franklin and Aaron Neville, and finishd third on the sixth season of American Idol. Doolittle has also performed at the White House, the Musicians Hall of Fame, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and she has shared the stage with Peter Cetera, Cyndi Lauper, the Boston Pops Orchestra and more.

Doolittle's debut album, Coming Back to You (2009), produced by Grammy-nominated Mike Mangini, garnered positive reviews from critics, including  The New York Times, which noted that the album "succeeds mightily." Doolittle recently penned an autobiography, Beyond Me (2010) and is currently in the studio writing and recording songs for the release of her next album. This week, the Rock Hall caught up with Doolite, who will perform at the Aretha Franklin tribute concert at PlayhouseSquare's State Theatre on November 5.

Rock Hall: What is your first memory of hearing Aretha Franklin's music? 

Melinda Doolittle: I remember being a young girl and my Daddy playing "Respect" for me. I loved that there was a song that made it okay to be sassy. That was the only time I was allowed to wag ...


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Reflections on Aretha Franklin with Kris Bowers

Friday, November 4: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Kris Bowers

Pianist Kris Bowers has shared the stage and/or recorded with jazz artists such as Terell Stafford, Vincent Herring, Louis Hayes, Casey Benjamin and Kenneth Whalum II. He has continued performing in a number of other genres, working with Murs, Q-Tip, Josè James, Jay-Z and Kanye West. Bowers can be heard on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s latest album, Watch the Throne. He has also performed for notable individuals including Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and President Barack Obama. Bowers was the winner of the 2011 Thelonious Monk Institute International Piano Competition, where he caught the attention of judges Jason Moran, Herbie Hancock, Danilo Perez, Renee Rosnes and Ellis Marsalis. He is pursuing his Masters in Jazz Performance with a focus on film composition at Juilliard. Bowers is currently forming his own band and will be releasing his debut album on Concord Records next year. This week, the Rock Hall caught up withBowers, who will perform at the Aretha Franklin tribute concert at PlayhouseSquare's State Theater on November 5.

Rock Hall: What is your first memory of hearing Aretha Franklin's music? 

Kris Bowers: Growing up, Aretha was one of the handful of artists my parents always ...


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Hall of Fame Series with Spooner Oldham

Friday, November 11: 2:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Spooner Oldham

On November 2, 2011, Hall of Fame inductee Spooner Oldham spoke with and performed for a sold-out audience in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Foster Theater. Oldham is a linchpin of Southern Soul and the Alabama sound, a fixture of famed Muscle Shoals and FAME studios, where his keyboard playing enlivened some of the biggest rock and roll songs of the past 50 years, including Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man," Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" and Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman." Together with singer-songwriter Dan Penn, Spooner contributed a number of classics to the canon of rock, co-writing "Cry Like a Baby" by the Box Tops, "It Tears Me Up" by Percy Sledge and "I'm Your Puppet" by James and Bobby Purify. 

Born Dewey Lyndon "Spooner" Oldham in Center Star, Alabama, Oldham is one of rock's most in-demand players, appearing on records and tours with luminaries such as Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Neil Young, in addition to newer act Drive-By Truckers. 

During his Hall of Fame series interview with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum director of education Jason Hanley, Oldham talked about ...


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Five Minutes with Fame: Hollywood Undead

Friday, November 18: 1 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Hollywood Undead

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is pleased to partner with Microsoft Zune for Five Minutes with Fame, an exclusive video series on the Zune Marketplace featuring singers, songwriters and bands at the forefront of today's music. After a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum, we sit down with artists to talk about their music, their road to success, inspirations, being on tour and of course, some of their favorite artists and artifacts highlighted in the Museum. This week's featured artist is Hollywood Undead.

As their name not-so subtly suggests, Hollywood Undead emerged from the music scene in Tinseltown, combining elements of hip-hop and hardcore in a sound they call "heavy pop." The first incarnation of the band took shape in 2005, and evolved into the six mask-wearing musicians that compose Hollywood Undead today: Johnny 3 Tears, J-Dog, Charlie Scene, Da Kurlzz, Funny Man and Daniel "Danny" Murillo.

The band's debut album Swan Songs was released in 2008, selling more than 800,000 copies worldwide. Sales were helped by two years on the road that found the band headlining international gigs and on the bill at major festivals, including the Download Festival in the UK ...


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Spinderella's First Spin

Wednesday, February 22: 10:30 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
DJ Spinderella demonstrates the art of DJing with vinyl

On Wednesday, February 15, 2012, Spinderella – the Grammy Award–winning DJ, producer, rapper and writer – appeared in the Museum's Foster Theater for a live interview and DJ demo performance. Over the course of an hour-long interview with Director of Education Jason Hanley, Spinderella talked about her career, influences and more.

As a true hip-hop pioneer, Spinderella rocked the turntables as a member of Salt-n-Pepa, the iconic female rap group that would sell more than 15 million albums and singles worldwide. Her career started before she even finished high school.

"I didn't set out to be a DJ," said Spinderella, recalling how her first interest in music came from poring over her father's vinyl collection. "I was in high school. I was in the cafeteria, going to lunch, and a young lady just came up to me and was like, 'Would you want to DJ for a girl group?'" At that time, Spinderella aka Dee Dee Roper was still new to DJing, learning a few tricks from her high school boyfriend, who she accompanied on gigs. Soon, she began spinning on her own.

"Everyone had heard about me DJing – and that was a very rare thing back ...


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The Power of Sisterhood

Monday, February 27: 2:56 p.m.
Posted by Allison McClain
Spinderella meets with girls in the Sisterhood program

Recently, a group (Sisterhood) from West Side Community House in Cleveland's Sisterhood program visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum during one of the Museum's education programs. Here, Allison McClain, youth services director at the West Side Community House, explains how music and education come together in the Sisterhood program, and how a special visit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum made for an exciting experience for the girls in the program.

Sisterhood is an after school and summer program at West Side Community House for girls ages 10-15, and girls ages 16-18 can apply to the program as mentors. Sisterhood began as a pilot program in 2008 with a Call to Prayer grant from United Methodist Women. The mission of Sisterhood is to prepare girls for womanhood and their life beyond. Since 2008, the Sisterhood program has served hundreds of girls from the east and west side of Cleveland, providing girls with a safe space to talk about real issues and process ways to learn and grow from those issues. 

The school year curriculum is divided into five cycles: Social Skills and Self Esteem, Family Support and Outreach, Education and ...


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Finding The Pied Piper of Cleveland

Monday, March 19: 4:30 p.m.
Posted by Chris Kennedy
Bill Haley and Elvis Presley

On Thursday, October 20, 1955, at approximately 1:45 pm, 20-year-old Elvis Presley’s rebel yell of “Wellll, I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight!” smacked off the auditorium walls of Brooklyn (Ohio) High School, as cameras from Universal – International Pictures filmed, in color, the flashpoint of the birth of rock and roll.

This unseen footage, know today as The Pied Piper of Cleveland, remains the lost, Holy Grail of rock and roll. But not necessarily because of Presley’s performance, one of his first out of the South, which by most eyewitness accounts wasn’t so spectacularly mind-blowing, or by the appearances of the other, more established acts on the bill. The Pied Piper of Cleveland retains its mystery and allure simply because it has eluded capture for so many years, and because its producer and star, Cleveland top jock Bill Randle, made sure never to answer questions about the film's fate candidly, never letting its tantalizing specter fade from the rock and roll consciousness. 

For the last eight years, I've dedicated a considerable amount of time peering through nearly 60 years of Randle's smoke and mirrors, attempting to discern exactly what transpired ...


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