Why a Rhythm & Blues HOF with Already a Rock & Roll HOF?

January 24, 2014


*They forged on through some of the worst conditions, and yet when they speak of it, they were the best of times amidst the backdrop of the civil rights movement.

What was the driving force of the Soul singers of yesteryear? They were the beacon of light on the hills of hopelessness and despair. They were the pride and joy of the times!

Their voices echoed not only the spirit of determination, but the pain, the suffering, the humiliation and frustration of Black America, and comforted them with the fact that their “race records” were giving them a voice in a democracy that had faltered on its promises.

The Soul singer had just as much voice as any legislator north and south of the Mason/Dixon line.

Not to take anything away from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF) established in 1983, former Harlem Globetrotter, Sports Entertainer/Entrepreneur LaMont “Showboat” Robinson felt the need to establish a Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame (RBHOF) – which was
founded in 2010 – to specifically honor and preserve the legacy of Soul music.

The Inaugural Induction Ceremony took place to a standing-room-only audience in August 2013 at Cleveland State University. He compares that while the RRHOF paints with broad strokes in its induction process, he utilizes fine strokes for a more inclusive process that will capture those who may have been just beneath the mainstream radar, but whose voices were just as significant and influential nonetheless.

For Instance, think of the male/female duo Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford who had a smash Top 20 hit with “I Need Your Loving” in 1962; of Joe Hinton “You Know It Ain’t Right;” Jesse “Goodnight My Love” Belvin, and many, many others who would qualify for RBHOF honors. He says, “It’s one thing to be nominated, but another to actually be inducted.”

So while the RRHOF – located in Cleveland, Ohio – is doing its best (under much scrutiny and ridicule) to acknowledge our Soul pioneers; its approach cannot do enough to honor those who are still alive, or for the legacy for the families of those who have passed on.

Robinson agrees, “Many people look at Motown as a genre…like Zydeco is to New Orleans, Country to Nashville, Motown (the pre-eminent Soul label) is to Detroit.” Not to conflict with the established Historical Motown Museum, his vision is to have the RBHOF based in the Detroit area, but added that Chicago, IL, Canton, OH, Memphis, TN, and Los Angeles, CA are in the running.


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