Annie Lennox: a name so synonymous with the evolution and preservation of synth pop, new wave, and, yes, rock and roll music, that it’s surprising not to see it as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s inductees. Surely, an artist who has sold over 80 million albums worldwide, won four Grammy’s, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award, and influenced a new generation of artists such as Imogen Heap and Florence and the Machine is an ideal recipient?
She’s a feminist and cultural icon. Her unmistakable, androgynous style made bold statements about equality between men and women, her image as iconic in pop culture as her songs. She is also a humanitarian and AIDS advocate who has consistently used her platform in the music business to raise money and awareness for those in dire need. As one half of the British-pop duo, Eurythmics, and as a successful solo artist in her own right, Annie Lennox’s distinct, soulful contributions to the music industry have left an indelible mark on the face of pop culture and rock and roll history that is more than worthy of recognition by the Rock Hall.
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This),” an irresistible synthesizer-pop confection, saw the first smash success for Lennox and her Eurythmics partner, Dave Stewart, in 1983. Arguably their most signature song, “Sweet Dreams” shot straight to number one on the Billboard charts and planted them firmly in pop culture consciousness. With Lennox’s powerhouse vocals and Stewart’s ability to generate and craft layers of synth-beats around it, the Eurythmics became a dynamic musical force. Releasing seven studio albums from 1981 to 1989 and reuniting in 1999 for an eighth, the Eurythmics had 20 internationally charting hits, including “Here Comes the Rain Again,” “Would I Lie to You?” and “Sisters Are Doin’ it for Themselves” with Aretha Franklin.
After a decade of recording and touring with the Eurythmics, Lennox embarked on a new direction in the ‘90s with the release of her first solo album, Diva, in 1992. Selling two and half million records in the U.S., Diva was a critical and commercial success that spawned five charting singles including the deliciously catchy “Walking On Broken Glass” and the confessional ballad, “Why,” which showcases Lennox at her most vulnerable, and consequently, her best. In 1995 she released a follow-up solo album, Medusa, a collection of covers of Lennox’s favorite songs. Debuting at number 11 on the Billboard 100 charts, Medusa went double platinum in the U.S. and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance for the hit single “No More ‘I Love You’s.’”
Beyond critical and commercial success in songwriting and performing, Annie Lennox has been a multicultural style icon, pushing boundaries and making bold feminist statements early in her career with her androgynous chic style.
“I wasn’t bending gender. I was saying, ‘Look, as a woman I can be equal to a man […] I’m not going to be what you think I am. I’m intelligent. I’m not a dancing doll just because I’m female and I’m singing. I’m not singing for your pleasurable entertainment. It’s not about that. It’s cerebral and it’s heartfelt and it’s intelligent.’” Lennox told Pridesource in 2014
Refusing to conform to gender stereotypes, Lennox sent out a message of female empowerment to women everywhere, all the while manifesting her image into art. Synonymous with her songs, Lennox’s unique individuality and fearless representation of herself in terms of gender has made her an unforgettable rock and roll icon.
Additionally, Lennox has used her public platform to campaign and raise awareness for charities and organizations, particularly those involved in the fight to cure AIDS. In 2007, Lennox established the SING Campaign, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds for women and children affected by HIV and AIDS. She is also an ambassador for UNAIDS, Oxfam, Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Campaign, Amnesty International and The British Red Cross. Her advocacy and charity work is both extensive and award-winning.
But now, it’s time she should be honored with the highest achievement award in the music industry, an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lennox proved at the 2015 Grammy Awards that she is still as fierce and relevant a performer as she was in 1983 or 1992, when, alongside Hozier, she performed “Take Me to Church” and the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins song “I Put a Spell On You” and completely stole the show.
Rolling Stone has named her one of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, Billboard bestowed her with their Billboard Magazine Century Award, and the Grammys, Golden Globes and Oscars have all recognized her remarkable musical contribution. The Rock Hall is remiss to not do so, too. Eligible since 2006 as a member of the Eurythmics, and this year as a solo artist, it is time that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honored her contributions and influence in rock and roll and presented her with the recognition she deserves.