Her musical accomplishments were unprecedented. The Queen of Soul could belt a ballad to beat any band. But Aretha Franklin taught us what is perhaps the most important lesson one can learn in a lifetime: We deserve Respect.
Today we bid good-bye to this talented icon.
Ironically, she shares this death date with another all time great, Elvis “The King” Presley, whom we lost way back in 1977. There seems to be a great symmetry in this. The King of Rock and the Queen of Soul had a lot in common. Both started from humble beginnings, singing Gospel. Both went on to conquer every corner of the music industry including Soul, Blues, Jazz, Ballads, Rock and R &B.
Aretha’s accomplishments are no less that royal. Born in Detroit, Michigan on March 25, 1942, she began her career singing Gospel in the New Bethel Baptist Church where her father was a minister. This daughter of a preacher-man would go on to gain unprecedented fame and fortune.
Franklin won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and sold over 75 million records worldwide. In 1987 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame. She was the first female artist to be inducted! Yes, Aretha called for “Respect” and got it!
In 2002 she was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame. Ironically, although her roots were in Gospel, it was not until 2012 that Aretha was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. She was listed in Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”
That is a lot of awards and inductions!
As a native Chicagoan and a Blues fan, one of my favorite comedies is “The Blues Brothers” starring the late great John Belushi, with a cameo from Aretha. (If you have not yet seen it and you like to laugh, stream it immediately.)
Elwood Blues and his brother Jake (who just got released from the Joliet Maximum Security Prison) embark on a “mission from God”. Their aim is to collect money for the orphanage where they were raised to prevent its closing. They will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. (Besides, if they lose they will face the wrath of The Penguin, their childhood nun. She is pretty scary.)
However, the only way Jake and Elwood can possibly earn any money is through music, in which case they must Get the Band Back Together.
At the local soul food diner, they attempt to recruit Matt “Guitar” Murphy. His wife Mrs Murphy, played by Franklin, has other ideas! (Obviously Jake and Elwood missed their mark. They would have done better to just recruit Aretha and the Murphettes!)
Aretha demanded Respect, taught us the importance of A Natural Woman and engaged in a good deal of Day Dreaming. But my favorite Aretha song is “Spanish Harlem” written by Ben E, King.
“It is the special one, it’s never seen the sun
It only comes out when the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming
It’s growing in the street
Right up through the concrete
But soft and sweet and dreaming”
Performed here by the Queen of Soul herself. Hope you like it!
Aretha Franklin Rock In Peace.