LA FocusFRIDAY, 17 AUGUST 2018
The Queen of Soul has died. Her music—which brought a tear to the eyes of Barack Obama at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015 and whose music was the soundtrack for generations passed away in her Detroit home after battling pancreatic cancer early this morning.
She was 76.
Indeed, tributes have been pouring in from around the world for the best-selling recording icon who earned 18 Grammy Awards and sang at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, and performed with everyone from Elton John and James Brown, subbing for Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammy Awards and performed “Amazing Grace” before Pope Francis in 2015.
“There is no vocalist on this planet who is not trying to be some version of the original queen of soul,” Grammy winning vocalist Peabo Bryson told CNN, adding that she was born with “perfect pitch.“
“Her voice; her presence; her style. No one did it better. Truly the Queen of Soul. I will miss you!” — Lionel Richie
“Let’s all take a moment to give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of our souls, who inspired us all for many many years,” wrote Paul McCartney. “She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever.”
“The greatest voice in American popular music has been stilled,” Bette Midler observed. “Our beloved #ArethaFranklin has gone. For me, she was a musical lighthouse, guiding and inspiring with every note. I loved her so and love her still.”
“Salute to the Queen,” posted John Legend. “The greatest vocalist I’ve ever known”.
President Bill Clinton shared these words, “Hillary and I mourn the loss of our friend Aretha Franklin, one of America’s greatest national treasures. For more than 50 years, she stirred our souls. She was elegant, graceful, and utterly uncompromising in her artistry. Aretha’s first music school was the church and her performances were powered by what she learned there. I’ll always be grateful for her kindness and support, including her performances at both my inaugural celebrations, and for the chance to be there for what sadly turned out to be her final performance last November at a benefit supporting the fight against HIV/AIDS. She will forever be the Queen of Soul and so much more to all who knew her personally and through her music.”
And from Barbra Streisand came this: It’s difficult to conceive of a world without her. Not only was she a uniquely brilliant singer, but her commitment to civil rights made an indelible impact on the world.”
Franklin, the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and scored over 112 charted records debuted on the music scene in 1961 with the release of a self-titled LP on Columbia Records, but it wasn’t until 1967 with the release of “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You),” that she scored her first #1 hit, selling more than a million copies. Her signature hit “Respect” followed that same year and set the tone for string of classics over the next three generations that would include “Chain of Fools”, “Natural Woman”, “Freeway of Love”, “Think”, “Ain’t No Way”, “Do Right Woman”, “You Send Me”, “Daydreaming”, “The House That Jack Built”, “Dr. Feelgood”, “Something He Can Feel”, “Say A Little Prayer” and “Since You’ve Been Gone”—thrusting soul music into the mainstream.
“Aretha is a gift from God,” Blige said of Franklin in 2010. “When it comes to expressing yourself through song, there is no one who can touch her. She is the reason why women want to sing.”
But what made set her apart was that she never left the church or the common touch, according to good friend, Rev. Jesse Jackson, who prayed with her and her family in the day preceding her death and said he “missed her already.” Stevie Wonder and ex-husband Glenn Thurman were also among those who visited the ailing star in hospice.
Not only did she leave behind a legacy in music but left her mark in gospel and civil rights as well. The Memphis native, who was reared in Detroit, inherited her love for both from her Dad, the late Rev. C.L. Franklin a noted preacher and civil rights activist who was characterized as having a “million dollar voice”. The elder Franklin reared his daughter in church where she honed her vocal skills in gospel music and remained active until her death. Her 1972 “Amazing Grace” album is credited with being the highest selling live gospel music album of all time.
As civil rights activist, Franklin offered to bail out political activist Angela Davis in the early 70s, once did an 11-city tour to raise monies for the SCLC and Dr. King, appeared at many civil rights and would sing at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King.
“What would our struggle or American society be without the music of Aretha?” asked NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “Her unmitigated ‘Blackness’ and contributions to art and national progress places her on the Mt. Everest of American icons who changed this society for the better.”
The family of Franklin released the following formal statement. “In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart. We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds.”
“We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on.”
Services are pending.