Rock Hall to Honor Masters

Bessie Smith, Hank Williams to receive Rock Hall honor

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has chosen Bessie Smith and Hank Williams to be the first and second recipients of the museum's new American Masters Series. The series will first spotlight the legendary Smith, the "Empress of the Blues," in September.

The American Masters Series, which kicks off this year, will be comprised of a series of events designed to educate the public about the contributions of some of popular music's most important pioneers. "Smith's contributions to the blues is significant, and she was influential to the careers of many legendary performers including Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin, and Aretha Franklin," said Hall of Fame President and CEO Terry Stewart.

Williams will be next in line for the American Masters honor. The country music superstar will receive the Rock Hall spotlight in 2002.