Thursday, December 08, 2011

Laura Nyro

Was finally inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! I'm happy. But not everyone is:
With the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you just never really know.
Even when an induction seems like a sure thing it isn't, and maybe that's why the honor perennially raises more questions than it answers with its list of inductees.
The 2012 inductees, announced yesterday, are no different.
Would anyone have expected '60s singer-songwriter Laura Nyro to have garnered more support from the Hall's voters than Joan Jett or Heart -- who were also on the nomination short list?

On the other hand, others get the reason why I find her a genius:
The late Nyro had only three minor hit singles, the biggest being her cover of "Up On The Roof," which reached No. 92 in 1970. But her own compositions yielded classic pop hits for the likes of Barbra Streisand ("Stoney End"), Blood Sweat and Tears ("And When I Die"), The 5th Dimension ("Wedding Bell Blues," "Blowin' Away," "Stoned Soul Picnic," and "Sweet Blindness") and Three Dog Night ("Eli's Coming").
Still, Nyro would likely have been overlooked as a faceless songwriter had she not also evolved into a true album artist, pioneering a mix of jazz and r&b influences and singing in a gutwrenching voice that likewise mixed gospel and the street. There was nothing like her before or after, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's nominating committee and voters are to be commended for recognizing and honoring her enormous gifts and influence.
In a weird way, being too much of a cat who walks alone can hamstring you. It opens up arguments that Nyro doesn't fit into a narrowly defined hall of fame because her talent went all over the place.

As to that Joan Jett argument: Laura Nyro died over ten years ago, and I see her induction as overdue. Yes, it's bad that letting her in leaves other deserving candidates out. But last year Nyro was nominated and didn't get inducted, which is Jett's situation this year.