The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its 2018 class during a ceremony held in Cleveland on Saturday night. Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits, and The Moody Blues were all welcomed into the Hall, as was iconic jazz singer Nina Simone.
Mary J. Blige had the honor of inducting Simone into the elite ranks of the Hall. During her speech, she noted the relevance of the late singer’s work, specifically to the African American community. “Her songs about injustice, struggle, and black life resonate to this day,” Blige remarked (via Rolling Stone). They’re just as relevant to Ferguson or Baltimore or Mississippi as they were to the civil rights era. And, of course, hip-hop took notice, with artists such as Ms. Lauryn Hill, Kanye West, Common, Jay-Z and myself, amongst others, sampling her extensively, and she has influenced countless singers, including many of them that are here on this stage today.”
In fact, Hill herself took the stage following Blige’s speech to perform a medley of Simone covers. She and Andra Day split tribute duties, with Day going first. She was backed by The Roots as she performed “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” and “I Put a Spell on You”, the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ song Simone famously covered. For her part, Hill covered “Ne Me Quitte Pas”, “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”, and “Feeling Good”.
Watch Blige’s speech, as well as remarks made by Simone’s brother, Nyack Sam Waymon, and the performances below.