A Tribute to the Queen of Soul

Image from www.independent.co.uk

I’m sure you’ve heard by now, if not I’m sorry to deliver the very sad news, that the undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, has passed away at age 76. She had one of the most prolific music careers in history, placed more than 100 singles in the Billboard charts, including 17 top 10 pop singles and 20 No. 1 R&B hits, received 18 Grammy Awards, and a lifetime achievement award in 1994. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987, and in 2010 topped the list of Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘100 Greatest Singers of All Time’. She was undoubtedly one of the most talented singers to walk this earth, spanning many genres including gospel, soul, jazz, blues, pop and RnB. But it wasn’t just her musical gift that made her an icon. It was the way she used it; unapologetically confident and powerful; inspiring generations and generations to come. It was the combination of her music and her ability to empower that made her truly remarkable.

Here are five things that we absolutely love about Aretha Franklin:

1. She demanded R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Franklin’s most famous song ‘Respect’ was in fact first released by Otis Redding. But when she released her version, at age 24, it became the anthem of the civil rights and feminist movements and is still as relevant as ever today. Though the song is at first glance about a relationship between a man and a woman, it means something to every person who has ever been disrespected. In her autobiography she wrote “It was the need of the nation, the need of the average man and woman in the street, the businessman, the mother, the fireman, the teacher — everyone wanted respect.”

Image from www.nytimes.com


2. She inspired generations of singers to create incredible music.

We are used to power ballads now, but when Aretha Franklin first emerged on the music scene no one had ever heard anything so bold. She paved the way for the future of female solo artists, inspiring artists like Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Adele, Beyoncé and more.

AP photo – Image from httpschicago.suntimes.com

3. She redefined the word ‘Diva’.

Like many terms reserved only for women, the word ‘diva’ has many negative connotations implying selfishness and arrogance. But Aretha reclaimed the word, once stating “Being a diva is not all about singing. It has much to do with your service to people. And your social contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.”

Image from www.independent.co.uk


4. She was a fierce feminist and activist.

Not only did her music inspire global movements, but Aretha herself was an active participant. She sang a gospel song at Dr Martin Luther King’s memorial, was a vocal supporter for black liberation and used her wealth and power to fight for equality.

Barack and Michelle Obama released a statement after her passing stating “In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade — our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.

Image from www.independent.co.uk


5. All the absolute gems she gifted us:


Rest in power, Aretha.

Maddy Crehan

Maddy regularly writes for Rosie, and is passionate about music, history, art and gender equality.

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