“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. She will be missed but the memory of her greatness as a musician and a fine human being will live with us forever. Love, Paul (McCartney).”
A Brief One from Doug Draper
Posted August 16th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
“What earmarks a musical legend?
“For Aretha Franklin, the answer is a truckload of accolades, including a stack of gold and platinum singles and albums and an armful of Grammy awards, within a colourful influential career that has spanned decades.
“But Aretha – one of the few artists in pop music history who earned international first-name status with no self-proclamation whatsoever – is not a musical l legend simply because of the hits. No she’s the undisputed “Queen of Soul” because, more than any other pop singer in the 20th century, her voice … quite simply personifies modern American soul music as we know it.”
These introductory words from the liner notes of one of the many compilations of Aretha Franklin’s hits put it well. But no words I’ve ever read can match that voice that was a soundtrack for civil rights, for love and peace, for respect, and for the free spirit and soul in us.
Aretha Franklin – the undisputed “Queen of Soul”, died this Thursday morning, August 16th, 2018, at her home in Detroit, Michigan after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.
Even with Paul McCartney for the most Grammy Awards ever one by a recording artist – 18 in all – and the first female artist inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, there were all of the great hits – ‘Respect’, ‘(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman’, ‘Think”, ‘See Saw’, ‘I Say a Little Prayer for You’, ‘Day Dreaming’, ‘Chain of Fools, ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, ‘Freeway of Love’, and the Billboard list just goes on and on.
Years before the soulless days of downloading tunes on memory cards – when whole albums of music really meant something and we still had great places to buy them l like Record Theatre – music critics would sometimes be asked; “If there were only 10 albums you could take with you to a deserted island, what would they be?” “Aretha’s Gold,” a single LP of her best-selling Atlantic recordings was almost always on their lists. It would certainly be on mine.
I was fortunate to see her perform once at Artpark in Lewiston, New York in 1994 and was struck by how effortlessly who voice rang out above the choir and band behind her.
Of all of the great singers of the last 50 years, there has never been one with the epic feeling and power of Aretha Franklin, and possibly never will be. As Martin Luther King once said of Mahalia Jackson; ‘A voice like that comes along once in a thousand years.’
She was to R&B and soul music, what Muhammad Ali was to boxing, Secretariat was to horse racing, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were to jazz music and Frank Sinatra was to big band singers.
Thankfully, we still have all of those great recordings.
It is just too bad that Aretha Franklin, who sang at Martin Luther King’s funeral in 1968 and, many years later, sang at the inauguration of America’s first black president, Barack Obama, did not live long enough to one day see Donald Trump, who days ago called a black woman who once worked with him in the White House an “animal” and a “dog,” removed from office and hopefully sentenced to jail, where he belongs.
Click on the screen below to hear Aretha Franklin singing (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman at the Kennedy Center in 2015 with the writer of the song, Carole King’ and the Obamas, moved to tears, in the audience –
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