Sting, War, Lou Reed for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

13 October, 2014

Welcome to American Mosaic from VOA Learning English. I'm Caty Weaver.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its nominees for induction this year. The 15 choices cover more than 50 years in music. They are Britons, Germans and Americans from across the United States. The nominees also represent many styles of rock and roll, including blues, disco, electronic, hip-hop and punk.

We polled Learning English staff members to find out which artists they would choose to enter the Hall of Fame this year. Each staffer could only choose one, but several chose the same artists.

Sting, War, Lou Reed for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Lou Reed performing at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame officials nominated Green Day, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Kraftwerk. Also included were The Marvelettes, N.W.A., Nine Inch Nails, The Spinners and The Smiths.

But none of those artists made the Learning English winners list. Here are our choices.

I'll start with myself. I selected War, a California band that could not have been from any other American state. Its sound defines California coastal cool. But the band combines styles from all over. You can hear Caribbean reggae, Latin beats, funk, and rhythm and blues in War performances.

War was most active in the 1970s. But to me its music is timeless. A favorite song is "Low Rider," from 1975.

Adam Brock, Roger Hsu and Anna Matteo went with Lou Reed. Anna had the hardest time deciding of all of us. She was torn by her love for the Spinners. But, in the end, she said she had to go with Reed because she is also a fan of his wife, musician Laurie Anderson.

Lou Reed was a founding member of the influential 1960s band The Velvet Underground. He also had a long and successful solo career.

Reed died in October of last year. In reporting his death, Rolling Stone magazine described Reed's musical gift. It said it was "marrying beauty with noise while bringing a whole new lyrical honesty to rock and roll poetry."

His most famous song was 1972's "Walk on the Wild Side."

Chris Cruise and Mario Ritter were pretty quick with their choice. Both Learning English staffers chose blues musician Stevie Ray Vaughn. Vaughn's career was short-lived. He died in a helicopter crash in 1990. He was only 35 years old. Vaughn had recorded just five albums. However, he had also gained fame and widespread industry respect as a great blues guitarist.

Staffers Marsha James, Jill Robbins and Jeri Watson are Sting fans. The British rocker is already honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the group The Police. He is also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Sting solo, and with The Police, has won 16 Grammy awards. He has 11 albums under his own name and five with his former band.

Jill Robbins says her favorite Sting song is "Fields of Gold."

We will end with the pick from staffer Jonathan Evans. We have more respect for his choice because he is an actual musician. Jonathan plays trombone, as well as a little piano, bass and trumpet. He is also a singer in a band. And, his choice for the Hall of Fame is Bill Withers. The singer-songwriter had many hits during his 15 years in the music industry. And he is an extremely popular artist to cover. Artists as different as Fiona Apple, Widespread Panic, Mick Jagger and Garth Brooks have recorded versions of Bill Withers' songs.

Bill Withers' many hits include "Lean On Me" and "Lovely Day." But it all started with a song that perfectly expresses what it is like to miss someone. Bill Withers released "Ain't No Sunshine," in 1971.

So what do you think of the Learning English musical opinions? Who would you choose to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Is there a band or an artist who was not nominated that you think should have been nominated? Let us know. Post your answer in the comment section.

I'm Caty Weaver.


Words in this Story

poll – v. to ask (several or many people) a question or a series of questions in order to get information about what most people think about something

select – v. to choose (someone or something) from a group

solo – adj. involving or done by a single performer instead of a group

actual – adj. real and not merely possible or imagined : existing in fact

Now it's your turn to use these Words in this Story. In the comments section, write a sentence using one of these words and we will provide feedback on your use of vocabulary and grammar.