If one is looking for a varied and successful career in a great many different fields, Vanessa Williams has known some profound ups and downs. First coming to prominence as a Miss America winner–and the first black one ever–who was coerced into giving up her crown based on some nude photos she had taken which became iconic. Besides her successful music career, which is our main topic of interest here, she has also been a successful actress as well. Perhaps unsurprisingly given her interests in acting as well as singing, she has been most successful in her career in the sort of music that can best be termed soundtrack pop , namely those songs that are attached to films, television shows, and other dramatic material. If Vanessa Williams has not ever been known in her career as a songwriter, she is well-regarded as an interpreter of songs and someone who can sing extremely well. Given the fact that she has been so successful in so many areas of her career, her singing is a reminder of the professional pop edge that many notable singers have like Jennifer Lopez, and the way that a pop singer is merely part of a much larger process that includes writers and producers as well as film or television productions that are associated with the song. It is in this world where Vanessa Williams is most successful.
The Influence Of Vanessa Williams
In many ways, Vanessa Williams is the sort of singer whose style and approach looks back towards the pre-rock and roll pop scene of the 1940’s, if not earlier, and she is in a chain of influence that includes more contemporary acts like Idina Menzel and Jennifer Lopez as well as her own contemporaries like Bryan Adams and Celine Dion and older artists like Barbra Streisand. Although these various artists are all diverse, one quality they all share is a great deal of connection between the world of film, television, and theater and music that is often associated with soundtracks, whether or not the singer is actually an actor or actress as well or not. Vanessa Williams is one of those artists who has provided others with a template on how it is that a career can survive and overcome early controversy and provide a model for cross-platform success on the charts with hit singles, sell albums, and promote movies and television shows simultaneously. This is by no means an easy task, and if this is not what most people have in mind as rock & roll artists, it certainly does capture the career arc of artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and Madonna. This is a track of influence that definitely deserves to be part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, if in a specialized wing of it.
Why Vanessa Williams Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
When taken on her own career, Vanessa Williams has managed to have four certified albums, including a gold-certified Christmas album, a multi-platinum album, a platinum-certified album, and a gold-certified debut. Her most successful songs, aside from “Save The Best For Last” have been associated with film or television soundtracks, such as “Love Is” from the Beverly Hills 90210 Soundtrack and “Colors Of The Wind” from the Pocahantas soundtrack, as well as “Where Do We Go From Here?” from the Eraser movie, in which she also starred. Besides that, though, she has also recorded successful songs like “Dreamin’,” “The Right Stuff,” “Running Back To You,” and “Just For Tonight” as well as “Oh How The Years Go By”  that demonstrate a professional approach to singing and performing that is admirable and that has been very successful. In an age where pop acts are not always known for being competent singers and performers, Vanessa Williams certainly succeeds beautifully.
Why Vanessa Williams Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
It is pretty obvious that Vanessa Williams has a few strikes against her when it comes to being inducted in Cleveland. For one, she is a pop artist who does not write her own songs and is certainly not rock & roll. For another, she is a black woman whose career has been divided between modeling, acting, and music, and there are few artists who have her particular career path who have been inducted with far more sales and career success. Yet if there are many artists who deserve to be inducted ahead of her, especially among successful women, she deserves to be a part of the conversation to show the context of worthy and successful soundtrack pop artists that exists and deserves recognition and praise.
Verdict: Put her in, but she might have to wait a while, unless the RRHOF does a massive induction ceremony for its worthy ladies.