The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is putting a great deal of effort into recognizing and inducting more women, especially those who made an impact on 1980s music. The Hall of Fame inducted The Go-Go’s in 2021, and followed that with Eurythmics and Pat Benatar in 2022. This year, it is expected that Cyndi Lauper will join the ranks of these inducted female artists.
Lauper was born in 1953 in New York City and was raised on music from Patsy Cline, The Beatles, and Judy Garland. She started her music career by singing in a classic rock covers band, performing songs from Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin, before forming her own original band, Blue Angel.
She rose to fame with her groundbreaking 1983 solo debut album “She’s So Unusual”. It produced four Top 5 Billboard hits, making it the first album by a female artist to achieve this feat. Lauper won a Grammy for Best New Artist and her unique fashion sense and music videos, including the first-ever Best Female Video at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, set her apart. Lauper continued to have hits and expand her career into writing, acting, theater, and philanthropy. She is known for her zest for life and her contribution to music.
Here’s Why We Think Cindy Lauper Deserves A Rock Hall Of Fame Spot:
She’s a Champion for Outcasts
Cyndi Lauper is a hero to all those who feel like misfits and she inspires them to be true to themselves. She has adapted her songs to reflect her inclusive and empowering message, for example, she changed the lyrics of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” to remove any sexist content in 1984. The original lyrics were about a man who felt lucky to be surrounded by girls who wanted to have “fun” with him. Lauper rewrote the song to remove these offensive lines.
Cyndi Lauper is often linked to 1980s pop music, but her four-octave vocal range gives the versatility that sets her apart from many other artists. She started her career as the lead singer for the retro-rock band Blue Angel before transitioning to a more straightforward pop style. Throughout her career, she has explored different genres such as soul ballads, jazz, reggae, disco, and electronic music. In 2010, her blues covers album “Memphis Blues” stayed at the top of the U.S. Billboard Top Blues chart for 13 weeks. In 2016, she paid tribute to Patsy Cline with “Detour,” an album of country covers. In 2018, she honored her friend Cher at the Kennedy Center Honors by singing a rocking version of “If I Could Turn Back Time.”
A Master of Both Composition and Performance
Cyndi Lauper’s first album, “She’s So Unusual,” showcased her unique touch on songs written by others such as “All Through the Night” (Jules Shear), “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (Robert Hazard), and “When You Were Mine” (Prince), which may have led people to believe she was only a talented interpreter. However, she co-wrote several tracks on the album, including hit songs “Time After Time” and “She Bop.” Lauper continued to build her repertoire with increasingly sophisticated and meaningful songwriting, earning recognition from Billy Joel, who praised her writing skills in their collaboration “Code of Silence” and even wrote a letter advocating for her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2021, Joel told Howard Stern that “She is, I think, the only other co-writer I was ever able to work with because she did all the work. The only other writer I gave credit to on a collaboration was Ludwig van Beethoven.” Lauper was honored with induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015.
A Champion of Social Causes through Music
Cyndi Lauper’s music often addresses political issues, the impact of the AIDS epidemic, and the fight against racism in albums like Hat Full of Stars (1993) and Sisters of Avalon (1996). She has been a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ community for many years and is the founder of the True Colors Tour, which raises funds for the Human Rights Campaign, and the nonprofit True Colors United, which aims to end homelessness among LGBTQ youth. Her song “True Colors” is considered an anthem for the LGBTQ community. Additionally, Lauper is a strong supporter of reproductive rights and has established the Girls Just Want To Have Fundamental Rights Fund. She also co-wrote the song “Sally’s Pigeons” with Mary Chapin Carpenter, which recounts the tragic story of a friend who died from an illegal abortion.
Versatile and Multi-Faceted Career
Lauper’s flamboyant style and personality are well-known, but she has made quiet contributions to many notable pop-culture moments. For example, she sang the theme song for the TV show “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and participated in “The Wrestling Album,” both under pseudonyms. She later expanded into musical theater, earning Tony and Grammy awards for her role in producing and writing songs for the hit Broadway show “Kinky Boots.” As a musician, she added the Appalachian dulcimer to her live performances. In addition to her musical achievements, she also won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her appearance on the ’90s sitcom “Mad About You.”