As I am sure you all know, this past Thursday, we lost a legend. Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, died at age 76 at her home in Detroit. Her official cause of death was said to be a result of the advanced pancreatic cancer that Franklin had been fighting with for some time. She performed dozens of beautiful and powerful songs, like “Respect” and “Natural Woman”, that defined her and the nation at large, taking the soul genre to a completely different level.
From her humble beginnings as a gospel singer at New Bethel Baptist Church, Franklin soon rose to stardom when she began recording for Columbia Records and later Atlantic Records. As her iconic nickname suggests, Franklin was one of the pillars of soul music, not just for singing the music, but by personifying the genre. Her voice, as stated by former President Barack Obama, was able to portray the very history of America and every aspect, both good and bad. The very core of soul music.
Her vocal flexibility mixed with her piano playing ability and passion allowed her to consistently make the top of the music charts and to become the first women to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 1987 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. She even received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame back in 1979 and a multitude of rewards and honors, but what defines Aretha Franklin is more than just the rewards. Yes, she was talented, but, as is the case with a lot of celebrities, people only see one side of them, but there was another side to her.
She was strong enough to face whatever life threw at her including discrimination and pregnancy at the age of twelve. She was kind and compassionate to everyone she met, even if she didn’t know them. She was outspoken regarding equal rights, going as far as posting Angela Davis’ bail after she was arrested, saying “I have the money; I got it from Black people, they’ve made me financially able to have it, and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.” What I’m trying to say is that she was more than just a singer or pianist. She was an amazing woman who will be dearly missed by thousands of people.
Her death has left the nation reeling. People all over the country are paying their respects to the late singer, showcasing how much she has truly affected all of us. However, during this time of mourning, we must remember one thing. That, while she is gone, the life she lived and the legacy she left will now and forever be cemented in the hearts of everyone that she and her music have touched. Aretha Franklin, thank you for everything you have done. Rest in peace.