First, there is no amount of adoration, respect, and praise I can adequately express concerning the accomplishments and life of our beloved and celebrated icon and legendary singer, Aretha Franklin, lovingly given the title the Queen of Soul. Her recent passing due to pancreatic cancer has left a monumental void, especially among the older generation, reminiscing about her songs appealing to our souls and touching our emotions.
Aretha was a songstress who was blessed with the gift of voice that brought happiness and joy to so many. Her soul-reaching songs made us feel and relate to all the dimensions of life brought on by human existence, whether it is pain, sorrow or joy. She made you feel something unless you were made of impenetrable stone or steel. She resonated with real people and their walk through life with love, heartache, life experiences, dignity, respect, spirituality, and happiness, and joy.
She was able to lend her voice to many genres whether pop, jazz, blues, soul music or even opera—bringing her own style of waking the inner emotions within earshot of her song. Many say her touching and moving renditions were made so real by her personal life that was no walk through fields of roses. But her faith in God is undeniably present in so many of her songs, especially in her gospel music.
Hers was the gift of song in sharing with others to remain strong, hopeful and prayerful. She didn’t compromise her songs by using vulgarities or profanities to trivialize one ’s worth, a practice utilized by so many young artists today selling songs. For that I applaud ‘The Queen’ and her contemporaries, refraining from using lewd and degrading words in their songs.
You find too many male and female artists today disrespecting women by relegating them to emptied headed bimbos and sex toys, sadly without public repercussions.
Aretha gifted us with songs that can be sung to any audience. No one is offended or disrespected. That speaks for itself. Five decades of fans can still find joy and pleasure in so many of her songs such as ‘Respect,’ ‘I Never Loved a Man,’ ‘Baby I Love You,’ ‘You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman,’ ‘Think,’ ‘Chain of Fools,’ ‘I Say a Little Prayer,’ and ‘A Rose is Still a Rose,’ just to name a few.
The Queen held her throne with dignity and respect, reinventing her music at times to capture a younger generation.
There were several acts of kindness manifested by the Queen that you probably never heard of because Aretha was very private—not one to parade here deeds for publicity. However, one cannot dismiss her role in the Civil Right Movement. Many of her songs literally become anthems reflecting Black pride and confidence during a transitional time of unprecedented racial and civil unrest in our country.
Aretha’s accolades are too numerous to name, consisting of Grammys; national awards, such as John F. Kennedy Center Honors; singing in presidential inaugurations; Top Billboard honors; honorary degrees; as well being the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. But her greatest role was that of being the unprecedented Queen of Soul.
Thanks for the music you shared with us and take your well-deserved position on a throne in heaven. We love you, and you will be missed but not forgotten.