A Guide to New York’s Music Halls of Fame

New York holds a special place in the history of music, spawning countless superstar artists and musical movements. It is no wonder then, that New York has a host of institutions meant to celebrate its important relationship to music. Across New York State, there are a number of Music Halls of Fame, many of which celebrate the musical heritage of their region. Others instead celebrate entire genres that originated in New York. Let’s explore New York’s Music Halls of Fame, their histories, and what they contain.

A Map of Music Hall of Fame Locations in New York
Locations of New York State’s Music Halls of Fame

New York City Metro

Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame

The Long Island Music Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF) is an organization aiming to preserve and celebrate Long Island’s musical heritage. Inspired by this emergence of Long Island, music historian Norm Prusslin and Rich L Hommedieu founded the Hall in 2004. They were quickly joined by Jim Faith and others. LIMEHOF inducts artists, producers, venues, and radio stars from Suffolk, Nassau, Queens, and Kings counties. Located in Stony Brook, the hall of fame occupies an 8,800 square foot building, which also contains a museum dedicated to Long Island Music History. The museum houses instruments, memorabilia, and awards won by some of its inductees.

Exterior of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame
The exterior of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame

Starting in the 1970s, Long Island slowly began to emerge as a hub of music. Local bands like Zebra and Twisted Sister slowly began to conquer rock radio airwaves in the 1980s. Soon, by the early 2000s, Long Island had become home to its own music festivals, such as the Great South Bay and Long Island Bluegrass festivals. As Billy Joel said in his induction to the hall of fame, “people began to recognize that the ‘Long Island Sound’ wasn’t just a body of water.” Inspired by this emergence of Long Island, music historian Norm Prusslin co-founded the hall of fame in 2004 with Rich L. Hommedieu.

Since its founding, the hall of fame has inducted over 120 figures, who originated or lived on Long Island. Genre pioneers like punk-rockers the Ramones, and hip-hop legends Run-DMC were among the first inductees. The hall of fame also recognizes nationally-known stars, like Billy Joel, Paul Simon, and Louis Armstrong for their success and influence. Induction, however is not just limited to artists, with execs, producers, and important venues also having spots in the hall of fame.

Lobby of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame
The lobby of the hall of fame museum

The hall of fame is also involved in music education, and community involvement. The museum facilities host a theater that showcases local artists, film screenings and music workshops. In addition to inductions, the hall of fame also awards the Harry Chapin award to artists and organizations dedicated to humanitarian causes on Long Island. Past inductees have included Steven Van Zandt, and the Long Island Cares food bank. The organization also awards annual high school scholarships, and recognitions for Long Island high school orchestras.

Hip Hop Hall of Fame

The Hip Hop Hall of Fame is an organization founded in 1992 that is dedicated to the preservation of hip hop as a cultural art. The organization specifically recognizes hip hop’s role in promoting socio-economic empowerment and urban development. In addition to recognizing artists instrumental in hip hop’s foundation, the organization places a special emphasis on community involvement through charity, and education.

A photo of the inaugural inductees in 1995, with Hip Hop Legends Grandmaster Caz, Mr. Magic, Founder JT Thompson, Kool DJ Red Alert and Ez AD

New York holds a key place in the development of hip hop as a genre. Hip Hop was born in the Bronx, with many citing its origins in an August 11, 1973 party held by DJ Kool Herc. His use of two turntables to play extended instrumental funk breaks shaped the sound that would become the basis for hip hop. Since its birth, New York has spawned countless superstars, including Notorious B.I.G., Nas, and Jay Z. It is no wonder why the Hip Hop Hall of Fame is based out of New York City.

The hall of fame’s inaugural induction ceremony was held at Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem in 1995. Since then, BET has nationally broadcast annual induction ceremony and concert every November to celebrate Hip Hop History Month. Inductees include rappers, DJs, b-boys, and producers. The organization currently has no physical location, but that will soon change. The Hip Hop Hall of Fame is constructing a massive complex in the heart of Manhattan. The entertainment complex will host the hall of fame, museum, a hotel, and stores for visitors. The hall of fame museum will contain memorabilia, and interactive exhibits for each of its inductees. The physical facilities are expected to be completed in late 2026 to early 2027.

A digital rendering of the museum’s planned exhibits

The hall of fame holds community involvement and education as a key tenet of its mission. As a result, it offers a host of scholarships, grants, and music industry mentoring programs for inner-city youth. In addition, the organization invests in efforts to register voters, empower local businesses, and provide job training. This is all part of the organization’s belief that hip hop culture can be a positive influence in fixing many of the problems that plague the inner-city.

Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame and Museum

The Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium founded the Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame in 1999. Its goal is to recognize musicians who had an impact on the cultural landscape of Brooklyn through both musicianship and community involvement. This hall of fame places specific focus on artists whose work has been overlook in comparison to other commercially successful jazz musicians.

The hall of fame’s origins can be traced to the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, an alliance of venues, community organizations, and musicians. The Consortium places special emphasis on the preservation of jazz as a piece of Brooklyn’s culture, using activism and education to aid in this mission. Specifically, the consortium works to ensure there are accessible, and affordable music shows and programs for Brooklyn’s underserved communities. As part of this mission, the Consortium hosts an annual Brooklyn Jazz Festival.

The Consortium’s Jazz Hall of Fame is currently an online entity. Its creators however hope that it can one day have a physical location. The envisioned location would contain interactive displays, educational facilities and a performance center. The hall of fames inductees include singers, instrumentalists, composers, and bandleaders. Some notable inductees are Lena Horne, Freddie Hubbard, and Max Roach.

The Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame presenting an award to flautist Herbie Mann

The Hall of Fame is also dedicated to giving back to the community, and promoting jazz to youth. As a result, they award the annual Deacon Leroy Apple Young Lion Award. The hall of fame presents this award to a young Brooklyn musician with exceptional jazz skills.

American Theater Hall of Fame

The American Theater Hall of Fame is the only organization that recognizes lifetime achievement in American theater productions. Earl Blackwell, James M. Nederlander, Gerard Oestreicher and L. Arnold Weissberger founded the hall of fame in 1970 in Manhattan. The organization’s mission is honor the past history of theater, celebrate present productions, and encourage future involvement in the arts.

The hall of fame is located in the Gershwin Theatre in the heart of Broadway. It takes the form of large gold lettering embossed on the walls of the theater’s entrance. The Gershwin Theatre also houses a small museum dedicated to hall of fame inductees. The second floor lobby houses 22 exhibition cases displaying memorabilia from past inductees. Individual donations, and ticket sales from the theater fund the hall of fame’s memorial and events.

Since its first induction ceremony in 1972, the hall of fame has honored hundreds of performers, composers, and directors. To be eligible for induction, someone must have performed for over 25 years, and have at least 5 Broadway credits. Each year, a committee of 275 critics and hall of fame members votes on candidates, inducting the top 8. In terms of musicians, the hall of fame has inducted famous composers and conductors such as George Gershwin, and Leonard Bernstein.

The hall of fame hosts an annual induction ceremony and Gala at the Gershwin Theatre each January. Leaders of the Broadway industry frequently attend the ceremony. Each year’s induction ceremony is videotaped and stored at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

Bronx Walk of Fame

Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer founded The Bronx Walk of Fame to honor the achievements the Bronx’s residents. The Walk of Fame came as part of a larger plan to uplift the spirits of the borough’s residents, and improve the external image of the Bronx. Today, the Walk of Fame takes the form of a 23 block long corridor along the Bronx’s Grand Concourse. Along the concourse, street signs celebrate celebrities who were born or lived in the Bronx.

An aerial view of the Bronx’s Grand Concourse – home to the Walk of Fame

The bright yellow street signs along the Walk of Fame celebrate not only honorees, but the borough as a whole. One side displays an image of the Bronx County Courthouse, the center of government for the borough. The other illustrates art deco storefronts, hinting at the vibrancy of commerce in the community. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the signs were redesigned, placing a larger emphasis on the inductees name, removing the building illustrations.

Each year, the Bronx Borough President, Tourism Council, and Overall Economic Development Corporation vet a series of candidates, before selecting inductees. There is an unveiling ceremony at the County Courthouse, where the signs are displayed for one year, before relocation to the Grand Concourse. The annual Bronx Ball celebration also honors Walk of Fame inductees.

The Walk of fame includes a number of musicians, spanning many genres and decades. Hinting to the Bronx’s importance to hip hop’s birth, a number of rappers, like Slick Rick and Kurtis Blow have signs along the concourse. Additionally, the Walk of Fame also honors the smooth voices of Luther Vandross, Bobby Darin, and Jerry Vale. The Bronx has historically been a hub for Latin music in the US, so many musical inductees have roots in this genre. Willie Colon, Johnny Pacheco, and Joseito Mateo are just a few salsa and merengue musicians honored on the Walk of Fame.

Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame

The Ertegun Jazz Hall of fame is an organization dedicated to honoring luminary minds of Jazz. The hall’s name comes from Atlantic Records co-founder Nesuhi Ertegun, whose label released many seminal jazz records. Jazz at Lincoln Center founded the hall of fame in 2004 to celebrate the definitive artists that have shaped jazz.

“The Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame will provide a center where the lives and the artistry of the greatest jazz musicians will be celebrated, and where people will come to learn about jazz, something to which my brother devoted his life’s work”

– Ahmet Ertegün

Today, Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall houses the interactive hall of fame. The hall includes a 14-foot video wall, interactive kiosks, and touch-activated virtual plaques. In addition, the hall’s architecture itself is a celebration of jazz instrumentation. The facilities make use of cork, wood, and brass, that are key materials of jazz instruments.

A 60 person panel, including artists, and scholars from 17 different countries works to select inductees. The inaugural 2004 induction included legends like Miles Davis, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and 11 others. Jazz legends, including Herbie Hancock presented awards to inductees’ family members and friends.

A Display of Hall of Fame inductees in the Frederick P Rose Hall

Capital Region

Eddies Music Hall of Fame

The Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame, colloquially known as the Eddies Hall of Fame began in 2019. The mission of the hall of fame is to celebrate individuals from the Capital Region who have made a significant impact on the music industry. Their contributions can be national or local, drawing a great diversity of inductees.

The unveiling of the Eddies Music Hall of Fame
The Eddies Music Hall of Fame unveiling ceremony

Jim Murphy and Sal Prizio created the Eddies in 2018 as part of Proctor’s Collaborative. The collaborative is a collection of Capital Region theaters, music schools, and other organizations to push music education and economic development in the area. Each year, the organization hosts the Eddies Awards to recognize musicians of the Capital Region, and induct hall of fame members. The first ceremony was held at Schenectady’s Proctors Theatre, and saw 1,250 attendees.

Since its establishment, the Eddies Hall of Fame has taken physical shape in Saratoga Springs’ Universal Preservation Hall. The venue houses a wall of plaques honoring each inductee, with a screen of rotating videos telling their life stories.

Exterior of Saratoga Springs’s Universal Preservation hall

The hall of fame celebrates not only musicians, but also songwriters, producers, journalists and execs who have impacted the industry. To be eligible for induction, candidates must have spent part of their lives in the Capital Region, and had a music career longer than 20 years. The inaugural class of 2019 only had two inductees: Celtic star Kevin McKrell, and folk singer Ruth Pelham. Since 2019, the hall of fame has expanded to include 40 inductees.

Dance Hall of Fame

Marylou and Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney founded the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame in 1986. The organization’s mission is to cultivate appreciation of musical arts, especially dance, in the larger community. The hall of fame additionally partners with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) to aid in arts education.

A restored bathhouse in Saratoga Spa State Park houses the hall of fame and museum. The museum contains memorabilia from some of the most famous dance artists of all time. Photographs, videos, personal artifacts, and costumes are just some of the objects displayed. Additionally, the hall of fame takes the form of golden plaques with the images and biographies of inducted embossed onto them.

From 1987-2019 the hall of fame annually inducted members who left a lasting impact on the dance industry. This has included many musicians, including singers, and composers. 2009 saw the induction of the King of Pop Michael Jackson for his chart-topping dance songs, and choreography. In addition, classical ballet composers such as Igor Stravinsky hold a place in the hall of fame.

The future of the Dance Hall of Fame has been uncertain since the Covid-19 pandemic. The museum remains temporarily closed since 2020, being taken over by SPAC in the meantime. SPAC and museum board member Anthony Ianniello has said that SPAC is working to reopen the museum to the public, with more information being available soon.

Central New York

NYS Country Hall of Fame

Cortland’s Country Music Park & Campground hosts the NYS Country Hall of Fame. Local musician Merlin Reynolds envisioned a hall of fame to recognize the Western artists of New York. In 1984, Reynolds with the help of Loretta and Dr. John Eckel purchased the current property to create the hall of fame.

Exterior of the NYS Country Music Hall of Fame
The Country Music Hall of Fame’s Opry Barn

Located directly off NY-13, the property’s A-frame house hosts the hall of fame. The property contains a hall of fame, and hall of honor, which takes the form of commemorative plaques on the building’s walls. In addition, the property hosts a museum dedicated to country artists from Nashville and New York. The museum has memorabilia, instruments, and costumes from legends like Willie Nelson, and Tammy Wynette. Hall of fame and museum admission is $3 per person, with admission by appointment only.

In addition to the museum, the hall of fame hosts a vast campground for visitors. The campgrounds have guests lodgings, bbq pits, horseshoe courts, and a performance space. The performance hall, called the Opry Barn, has a 150 sq foot stage, hardwood dance floor, and kitchen for visitors. It is also home to the annual hall of fame induction ceremony.

A wall from the NYS Country Music Hall of Fame
One wall of the Hall of Fame, featuring plaques and memorabilia

Induction into the NYS country hall of fame first requires induction into the organization’s hall of honor. Honorees must have been born or lived in New York, and performed country music for over 10 years. Each year, 3 members of the hall of honor are elevated into the hall of fame at the annual induction dinner dance. In addition, the organization’s lifetime achievement and horizon awards are presented at this event. This ceremony takes place the last Sunday of October. Since its inception, the hall of fame and hall of honor have inducted over 200 musicians.

SAMMY Hall of Fame

Since 1993, The SAMMYS awards have celebrated the music scene of Syracuse and Central New York. Since its inception, the awards have included an annual induction into the SAMMYS hall of fame.

Carolyn Kelly’s induction into the SAMMYS Hall of Fame in 2023

The first SAMMYS Hall of Fame induction took place at Syracuse’s Landmark Theatre in 1993. Since its founding, the annual ceremony has become the largest music event in Syracuse, drawings hundreds of musicians and guests each year. The hall of fame currently has no physical location, and takes the form of this honor at the annual awards. In addition to awards, the ceremony features live performances from local artists and honorees.

The hall of fame recognizes musical artists and organizations from Syracuse who have left a lasting impact on the music industry. Since its start in 1993, the hall of fame has inducted over 100 artists, venues, and publications. The first artist inducted was jazz trombonist Spiegle Wilcox in 1993. In addition, the SAMMYS also recognizes a select few with lifetime achievement awards. Lifetime achievement honorees include legends like Lou Reed, and Ronnie James Dio.

Oswego Music Hall of Fame

Nancy Spereno and the Oswego Harbofest board established the Oswego Music Hall of Fame in 1990. In the words of the organization, they honor artists “who have kept Oswego dancing, singing, and smiling for years.” Following the 1990 awards, the Hall of Fame went on hiatus until its revival in 2015. For the past nine years, the hall of fame has honored local artists at its annual induction ceremony.

A performance at the 2018 Oswego Music Hall of Fame induction

The hall of fame’s inaugural induction honored Joseph Spereno, Charlie Davis, Dick Workmen, Jimmy Gannon and Dick Fellows. These men were recognized for laying the groundwork of Oswego’s music scene, as well as their dedication to the community. Then Mayor John T. Sullivan also presented them with keys to the city at the 1990 Harborfest celebration. Following a 15 year hiatus, the hall of fame was revived with the sole induction of Joseph P. Spereno. Spereno worked as agent for legends like Isaac Hayes, ELO, Tom Petty, and others. He was also honored for his dedication to charities fighting AIDS, and funding music education. The hall of fame now awards the “Joseph P. Spereno Hall of Fame Award,” which is the highest honor at the annual ceremony.

2023 Oswego Music Hall of Fame inductee John McConnell

The Oswego Music Hall of Fame has no permanent location, but takes the form of an annual induction dinner each October. The annual ceremony features hall of fame inductions, live music performances, and the awarding of the organization’s annual Joseph P. Spereno Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes a local youth who wishes to pursue a career in music.

Western New York

Buffalo Music Hall of Fame

The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame is an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the diverse musical heritage of Western New York. Rick and Marsha Falkowski founded the hall of fame in 1983 to honor the musicians and cultural achievement of Erie, Niagara, Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. The hall of fame not only includes international superstars, but also regional figure’s who shaped the music industry in Buffalo.

Exterior of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame

Following its founding, Niagara Falls’ Hard Rock Cafe housed the hall of fame in a dedicated room. The room displayed memorabilia and artifacts from the hall of fame’s inductees. For years, the hall of fame hoped for a standalone location to house a performance space, displays, plaques, and memorabilia. This dream came true in 2021, with the opening of a physical space in Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood.

Each year, the hall of fame announce its nominees at a midsummer press conference, with official induction taking place at its annual October gala. The 2023 induction gala took place at Buffalo’s Seneca One Tower, with an induction concert taking place the next night. Induction is based on longevity in Western New York, community service in music, music education/mentoring, charitable contributions, recording status, and production credits.

Since its founding, the hall of fame has inducted hundreds of honorees spanning countless genres. Some standouts include funk legend Rick James, pop icons Goo Goo Dolls, and jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra.

Interior of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame

The hall of fame partners with many local Buffalo organizations to give back to the community. They often collaborate with Music to Remember WNY, and the annual Juneteenth celebration. Additionally, the hall of fame offers annual scholarships for students who study and perform music.

Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame

The Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame is an organization dedicated to preserving and honoring the musical heritage of the Greater Niagara Falls area. The organization inducts individuals, groups, and businesses that have left a lasting impact on the local, national, and international music scenes.

Award from the Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame

The hall of fame currently has no physical location, but has held induction ceremonies since its founding in 2017. As part of the inductions, an annual ceremony and concert is held, with the 2024 edition set for October 23.

The hall of fame allows members of the community to nominate individuals, groups, and venues for induction. The nominees are then evaluated based on their impact on the local community, not necessarily their popularity. Nominees must have a definite connection to the region, and a noticeable impact on music or community service. Inductees include everyone from the MacKenzie Highlanders Pipe and Drum band to rock guitarist Frank Grazanti.

The MacKenzie Highlanders play the 2023 Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame induction
The MacKenzie Highlanders play at the 2023 Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame induction

In addition to induction, the hall of fame offers an annual Dr. Sam Morreale Award. The award recognizes a musician, promoter, or fan who has shown unparalleled dedication to music in the community. The award’s namesake is Dr. Sam Morreale, a dentist, music historian, and reedist, who served Niagara Falls’ music community for over 70 years.

Rochester Music Hall of Fame

The Rochester Music Hall of Fame began in 2009 to recognize the immense talent, and promote appreciation of Rochester’s music scene. The hall of fame recognizes not only Rochester, but much of Western New York, including Monroe, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, Ontario, Yates, Seneca and Wayne counties.

In 2009, local musician Karl LaPorta wrote an op-ed in Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle newspaper envisioning an institution to honor the city’s musicians. Seeing an immensely positive community response, LaPorta assembled a committee, including media, politicians, and musicians, to found the hall of fame.

Exterior of the Rochester Music Hall of Fame
The exterior of the Eastman School of Music’s Miller Center

The hall of fame made a great stride in 2018, opening a physical location in Rochester’s Miller Center. It now shares the building with the Eastman School of Music‘s Sibley Music Library. The hall of fame holds regular events for the community, including book talks and signings as part of its “Books Backstage” events. In addition, since 2019 “The Grove Place Jazz Project” sees jazz performances from music school students each Tuesday evening.

Since 2012, the hall of fame has inducted yearly honorees, including musicians, radio hosts, venues, and philanthropists. Rock legends like Foreigner’s Lou Gramm and The Beach Boys’ Al Jardine, as well as Jazz icon Cab Calloway are among the inductees. The class of 2024 includes producer and YouTube star Rick Beato for his role in online music education. The hall of fame awards each inductee with a trophy in the shape of a gold treble clef designed by award-winning artists Mark McDermott.

Awards from the Rochester Music Hall of Fame

The hall of fame remains dedicated to giving back to the Rochester community, offering a host of outreach programs. They offer a school outreach program to educate students on music history, opportunities in the music industry, and the hall of fame’s activities. Live music performances often accompany these talks. In addition, the hall of fame awards an annual Douglas Lowry award scholarship to a local high school senior wishing to pursue a career in music.

National Comedy Hall of Fame

The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY houses the newly established Comedy Hall of Fame. The hall of fame is the first one in the country to honor legends of stand-up comedy. The mission of this hall of fame is to honor inductees, provide education on comedic arts, and explore the role of comedy in American history.

The National Comedy Center, which houses the Comedy Hall of Fame

A 2022 Netflix special titled “The Hall: Honoring the Greats of Stand-Up” launched the hall of fame, acting as its first induction ceremony. The ceremony was hosted by current comedy icons, like John Stewart, John Mulaney, and Dave Chappelle, who honored inductees, as well as comedians who had recently passed. At this inaugural ceremony, four comedy legends were inducted, including Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Joan Rivers, and Robin Williams.

John Mulaney presenting at the first induction into the Comedy Hall of Fame

A brand new wing of the National Comedy Center will house the hall of fame will contain interactive exhibits, archives of rare performances and interviews, and memorabilia from inductees. The National Comedy Center began in 1996 as the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum before its rebranding in 2018. On its 37,000 sq foot grounds, the museum invites upwards of 60,000 annual visitors to explore exhibits ranging from vaudeville to internet memes. In addition, the organization has hosted sets by famous comedians, such as Jerry Seinfeld and Trevor Noah. Congress designated the museum as an official US cultural institution in 2019. The museum is located in Jamestown, NY, the hometown of I Love Lucy star Lucille Ball.


New York Blues Hall of Fame

The New York Blues Hall of Fame is a subsection of the national Blues Hall of Fame, founded in 1999. Its mission is to preserve the legacy of the blues through local induction ceremonies across New York States. These ceremonies bring artists, fans, and contemporaries together to recognize inductees’ musical prowess. The hall of fame places special emphasis on those who have gone overlooked, tirelessly perform for passionate audiences.

The Recognition of Jeff Pevar as a Master Blues Artist at the 2016 induction ceremony

The hall of fame currently has no physical location, but has an extensive e-museum on their website. The website contains a gallery of videos and photos honoring its inductees. Additionally, the e-museum hosts pages on local blues histories, and defining bands and artists of the genre. On top of this, it also provides information on local blues jams and events across the state.

Whereas the national Blues Hall of Fame began in 1999, the New York edition had its first induction ceremony in 2011 in Middletown. The hall of fame hosted 24 induction ceremonies through 2016, traveling to NYC, the Hudson Valley, Albany, and more.

In its induction ceremonies, the Blues Hall of Fame honors great artists, photographers, venues, and more. Some honorees of note are Taj Mahal in 2016, Shemekia Copeland in 2013, and Allman Brothers Band drummer Jaimoe also in 2016. The Hall of Fame awards honorees a certificate recognizing them as either a legendary, master, or great blues artist.

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