Time released its prestigious list of the 100 most influential people of the year yesterday and several musicians were included
The annual Time 100 features the great and the good of 2021, from Donald Trump and Liz Cheney to Elon Musk and Simone Biles. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were chosen to adorn the cover.
The list contains “extraordinary leaders from around the world working to build a better future,” Edward Felsenthal, TIME CEO and editor-in-chief, said in a statement. “They are disrupters, fixers, doers, iconoclasts, problem solvers – people who in a year of crisis have leaped into the fray.”
The world of music was well represented obviously, across several different categories. Take a look below at each musician included in this year’s TIME 100.
Dolly Parton (Icons)
The unending legend of country music was profiled by Miley Cyrus in the Icons category, calling Parton her the “definition of humanitarian.” “Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t love Dolly Parton? I never have,” Cyrus wrote. “Dolly is not only my idol because of her incomparable career — she’s also my role model because of her steadfast morals and values.”
She continued by noting Parton’s wonderful altruistic accomplishments, including donating $1 million to COVID-19 vaccine research as well as her consistent support of the queer community. “People look to Dolly for guidance, and she knows that. She wears that responsibility with the same grace and pride she rocks a two-piece Nudie suit. She recognises how impactful her choices will be as one of the most iconic and powerful voices in country music, and she leaves no one behind.”
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Billie Eilish (Pioneers)
The pioneering pop star was introduced by another artist who dominated 2021, Megan Thee Stallion. “Billie Eilish is a unique soul, with a voice, style and attitude all unapologetically her own,” the rapper wrote. “I first met Billie at the Grammys this year. She had already achieved worldwide stardom, which might make some people have airs about them, but not Billie.
She was so real and laid-back, even though her personality is so big. She is a rare spirit who speaks from her heart with no pretenses. I knew I had found a kindred spirit that night. One who is strong, but still learning and still growing. A woman who stands up for herself and advocates for women everywhere.”
Timbaland and Swizz Beatz (Titans)
The production legends were honoured for their groundbreaking Verzuz series, a virtual DJ battle that was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Singer Brandy discussed the pair’s impact: “During the pandemic, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz created Verzuz, a streaming series that has showcased so many talented artists. It’s such a beautiful experience, and with millions of viewers tuning in to watch the live battles on Instagram, it’s clear that it’s also something people really needed—the series got us through a difficult time.
I go way back with both Timbaland and Swizz Beatz: as a hip-hop head in the 90s, Swizz’s work spoke to me. And Timbaland is one of my favorite producers of all time. When they asked me to go on Verzuz for a battle with Monica—an amazing artist—last year, I was very nervous because I didn’t want it to be competitive; I like to share the light. But they assured us that it would be a fantastic experience. It was exactly that. I didn’t want the night to end.”
Angélique Kidjo (Titans)
The Beninese singer-songwriter and activist was profiled by Alicia Keys. “The grace she exudes toward her fellow creators, and to humankind, is a reflection of her vibrancy, kindness, and generosity,” she wrote. “Angélique is as real as they come.” Her inclusion in TIME 100 comes after she represented the continent of Africa at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony, performing ‘Imagine’ with John Legend, Alejandro Sanz, and Keith Urban.
Kane Brown (Artists)
The rising country star was honoured by Darius Rucker from Hootie & the Blowfish, who cited Brown as a wonderful role model for the new generation of country artists. “Kane Brown has that unquantifiable ‘it’ factor,” he said. “He’s so laid-back and doesn’t take himself too seriously, but he also really cares about his craft and other people.”
Rucker continued: “I’m sure there are kids looking up to Kane right now just like when I looked up at Charley Pride. Kane is setting the bar so high for the next generation. I hope kids see him and now think, ‘I can do that.’”
Bad Bunny (Artists)
The Puerto Rican superstar was discussed by fellow reggaeton artist J Balvin who remembered watching the rise of Bad Bunny to the top. “I met Bad Bunny in Puerto Rico about five years ago. Benito was an up-and-coming artist then, making a lot of noise on the streets and on SoundCloud. When I saw him, I was like, ‘Oh, he’s another weirdo like me. I’m not the only one now.'”
Balvin ended by noting his friends huge impact on Latin culture. “He’s an artist, period. A true artist. Now he’s at his peak, taking Latin culture to another level. The records he’s broken are amazing. He’s different. Special. People wait for someone to die to say, ‘Oh, he was a legend.’ But I’m telling Benito now: You are one of the greatest artists in Latin music history.”
Lil Nas X (Artists)
Kid Cudi honoured his fellow rapper by noting the similarities between the two artists. “Lil Nas X is a new twist on some of the themes I was riding on when I first started out: being true to yourself and not giving a f-ck what anyone says. What he’s doing is what we need right now. To have a gay man in hip-hop doing his thing, crushing records—that is huge for us and for Black excellence. The way he’s unafraid to make people uncomfortable is so rock ’n’ roll. He’s a true rock star.”
Cudi continued: “When I saw the tweet about Nas’ album Montero not featuring Black male artists, and he replied that ‘maybe a lot of them just don’t wanna work with me,’ that made me sad. There’s a homophobic cloud over hip-hop, and he’s going to break that sh-t down. We have to stand with him. I’m going to do whatever I have to do to let him know—you have my support. When we do our song together, however trippy the video is, let’s get sexy with it.”