Long live the Queen of Soul… Long live Queen Soul Aretha Franklin… August 16, 2018.
The Queen passed away at her home in Detroit, Michigan after battling pancreatic cancer.
Aretha Franklin’s life ended with the legendary singer comforted by loved ones, her family and friends.
At the time of her death, Aretha Franklin’s net worth was $80 million dollars.
Her niece Sabrina Garret Owens was appointed as the personal representative to administer the estate, according to the Detroit News, a decision that was agreed upon by Franklin’s sons, one of whom is under a conservatorship.
On August 31, 2018, at 10 a.m. at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, the entire world watched as we celebrated the life of Aretha Franklin “The Queen of Soul”.
Franklin’s family was intent on doing everything in the excellent manner the singer was known for.
The Queen’s family held a 4-day viewing and celebration in honor of Aretha and was extremely gracious to share this very painful moment with us all.
She will be remembered for her powerful voice and profound words. She will always be a treasure who gave us songs, memories, interviews and moments that made her the Queen of Soul.
Aretha Franklin was a pure singer a force of nature in pop music for 6 decades, an Icon for women, and a powerful symbol in the Civil Rights Movement. She was the best in the business.
Aretha Franklin Facts: The Untold Truth of Aretha Franklin
Aretha Louise Franklin was an American singer, songwriter, and pianist, born March 25, 1942, in Memphis, TN.
According to the Library of Congress, C.L. Franklin is that he was briefly pastor of a historic church in Alabama, the 32nd Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.
Thirty-Second Street Baptist was a thriving church that played a significant role in the black community and in the civil rights movement.
C.L. Franklin was a leader during the Civil Rights Movement.
He was among the most famous singers and preachers of his time, complete with recorded sermons and his own radio show.
According to The New Yorker, he was also abusive and unfaithful to his wife.
A little-known fact about C.L. Franklin is that according to the biography of C.L. Franklin by Nick Salvatore, “Singing in a Strange Land,” notes that soon after arriving at the New Salem Baptist Church in Memphis, the pastor fathered a child with a 12-year-old girl in the congregation.
Mildred Jennings turned 13 shortly after the birth of the child, Carl Ellan Kelley (née Jennings), in 1940.
Aretha began her career as a child singing gospel in the junior choir at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan where her father C. L. Franklin known as “the man with the million dollar voice”, was the Pastor.
Her mother and father split and her mother left the family home when she was 6 years old. It was well-known that he was an unfaithful playboy, though the extent of his promiscuity remains a matter of debate.
Aretha and her siblings maintained their relationship with their mother while growing up. Her mother passed away at age 34. Aretha was 10 years old at the time.
She grew up around the greatest voices in Gospel music. When Aretha was 12, her father began managing her; he would bring her on the road with him during his so-called “gospel caravan” tours for her to perform in various churches around the country.
He also helped Franklin sign her first recording deal with J.V.B. Records. Recording equipment was installed inside New Bethel Baptist Church and nine tracks were recorded. Franklin was featured on vocals and piano.
Franklin was the mother of four sons. She first became pregnant at the age of 12 and gave birth to her first child whom she named Clarence, after her father, on March 28, 1956, three days after her 13th birthday. The father was not identified for a long time.
There seems to be a rumor, however, that Aretha might have been impregnated by her own father since it is speculated that she was sexually awakened at a young age due to her father’s “church parties” as recorded in her unauthorized autobiography Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin.
In the end, it turned out that her highly perverted father was innocent, they say and “Clarence’s dad was Donald Burk, some guy Aretha knew from school at the time.”
On January 22, 1957, then aged 14, Franklin had a second child, named Edward after his father Edward Jordan. Franklin did not like to discuss her early pregnancies with interviewers.
Both children took her family name. While Franklin was pursuing her career and “hanging out with friends”, Franklin’s grandmother Rachel and sister Erma took turns raising the children. Franklin would visit them often.
Franklin’s third child, Ted White Jr., was born in February 1964 and is known professionally as Teddy Richards. He has provided guitar backing for his mother’s band during live concerts.
Her youngest son, Kecalf Cunningham, was born in 1970 and is the child of her road manager Ken Cunningham.
The Gospel According to Aretha
She recorded “Songs of Fatih” in 1965 at her father’s church in Detroit Mi.
In the words of Aretha “The gospel has a lot more movement to it and a lot more of what I feel is soul.”
To describe Aretha’s voice is to try to describe a rainbow that is unspeakably beautiful.
At age 18 she went outside the world of the church into the secular world. She confided to her father that she aspired to follow Sam Cooke in recording pop music and move to New York. Serving as her manager, C. L. Franklin agreed to the move.
She became the human embodiment of American soul music in the way she defined American soul music.
The recording labels she signed with included Columbia (1961–1966), Atlantic (1967–1979) and Arista (1980–2007).
In 1967, at a Chicago Theater named The Regal, WVON radio personality Spang Cooper came up with the moniker “The Queen of Soul” to introduce a 25 yr old gifted singer and her reign began! The Queen reigned for more than 50yrs with hit after hit beginning with Respect.
The Queen found commercial success and acclaim after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966.
Hit songs such as “Respect“, “Chain of Fools“, “Think“, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman“, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)“, and “I Say a Little Prayer“, pushed Franklin past her musical peers.
Decades after she recorded “Amazing Grace,” Daniel Walker, a professor at El Camino College and founder of the Gospel Music History Archive at USC says, Amazing Grace “captures the church experience, it captures the black experience, it captures the human experience.”
Aretha Franklin’s live album ‘Amazing Grace‘, recorded in Watts and made gospel music history. She brought the Gospel to the masses
Within a few weeks of its summer in 1972 release, that energy had propelled Aretha’s gospel-filled revelry into the top 10 on Billboard’s album charts, where it battled for No. 1 alongside records by Elton John, Bill Withers, and Donny Osmond.
“Amazing Grace” remains Aretha’s bestselling album, and it’s one of the most commercially successful gospel records of all time.
Aretha Franklin had the ability to externalize humanity in melody. This is what made the Queen one of the most pivotal vocalists of the 20th century.
She gave people ways to understand the emotions they were feeling that they couldn’t find the words to express. Those songs were just words on paper until Aretha sang them.
The timelessness of the records is as some would name The Beatles. You can’t be an American without having these songs come across your consciousness over and over. It’s the thing that elevated her to the highest level.
Aretha had a once in a generation or more talent. She was a salt to the earth person. The Rolling Stone Magazine declared her to be the greatest singer of all time. She was a Queen honored by presidents and peers alike.
The Queen received numerous honors throughout her career, including a 1987 induction, not just the first black woman, but she became the first woman in America’s history to be inducted into the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame.
She was nominated for 44 Grammy Awards and took home 18 of them (including the Legend Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the title of MusiCares Person of the Year) she charted the billboards with 17 top 10 hits and she sold more than 75 million records.
In 1994, at 52 years old, she became the then-youngest person to nab a Kennedy Center Honor.
In 2005, President George W. Bush honored her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Stats don’t tell the whole story of Aretha Franklin. She was not about what was in her trophy case.
Aretha created great singles and in creating great singles she created the soundtrack to peoples lives.
Aretha was on TV when many black women weren’t and when she was herself a black woman.
There were two sides to Aretha a megastar breaking historical barriers and the woman who tried very hard to maintain privacy & accuracy about her life.
Aretha didn’t share a lot of inner details about her life. It could have been because of what she’s been through as a young person.
Or because she didn’t want anything to get in between the listeners and her music.
The Architect of Soul Music
As Aretha continued, she taught us music, soul music that is a matter of feeling and a matter of sound. Soul music is all other genres of music meshed into an urban rhythm kind of blues.
Her music transcends generation, race, and cultures, but her sound remains firmly rooted in black musical traditions.
She is the architect of everything we listen to right now. There would be no Beyonce & Jay Z “Drunk In Love” without Aretha Franklin’s “Dr. Feelgood“. It is a clear indication that Aretha is everywhere.
Even though we as humans must all go one day, the loss of Aretha is a blow for everybody who loves real music.
Music from the heart, the soul, and the church. Her voice was unique and her piano playing underrated.
As music enthusiast of the soul music genre, we give thanks for the beautiful life of Aretha Franklin the Queen of our souls and soul music, who has inspired us all for a lifetime.
R E S P E C T The Civil Rights & Women’s Movement
Aretha did more than just layer delicious sounds over mouthwatering melodies.
It was her activism. And it was important to her and the black community.
Her classic Sixties and Seventies sides soundtracked the Civil Rights Movement, an object lesson in how a singer can embody and define her time.
As poet Nikki Giovanni wrote, Franklin “lifted her voice in question and complaint and why not and we’re going to and voiced the needs of a generation.”
She demanded respect in a classy and groovy way. R-E-S-P-E-C-T moved the Civil Rights Movement. People marched to that music.
People would ask for respect. Literally, figuratively, theoretically and she was central to that.
Aretha was a vibrant woman who would attend every party and every march. She was being an amazing black woman thurst onto American Culture.
She was wearing her crown in her 20’s. Aretha taught us that Music isn’t just music. Entertainment isn’t just entertaining. Not always.
Aretha Franklin was surrounded by music and film legends growing up in her father’s home and ministry, including Nat King Cole, Della Reese, Duke Ellington, Smokey Robinson, and Diana Ross.
In addition to the era’s greatest entertainers, Aretha and her family were also close with one of the most famous and influential men of all time: Martin Luther King, Jr. The Queen went on tour with the father of the Civil Rights Movement.
When Aretha was honored by the city of Detroit on February 16, 1968, declaring it as “Aretha Franklin Day”, Dr. King was present to help honor her during such a glorious moment in her life and career.
Months later she would ultimately sing at his funeral after his assassination. The beginning of a series of a serious pivotal moment in history.
When the mood was darkest and hopeless Aretha’s voice offered a ray of possibilities transcendence.
John Lewis shared on the day she passed away that “when they would be released from jail after a non-violent protest they would go to a late night club and let the music of Aretha Franklin fill their hearts.
Her music gave them a greater sense of determination to never give up or give in, and to keep the faith.”
It was Queen Soul Aretha Franklin who spoke out and bailed Angela Davis from jail February 24, 1972, according to Jasper Williams the Pastor who eulogized her.
“Angela Davis must go free,” Aretha said. Black people will be free. I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get any peace. Jail is hell to be in.
I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people.
I have the money; I got it from Black people — they’ve made me financially able to have it — and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.”
She was one who always gave back to the community. She was the very fabric of the black community.
Aretha Franklin continued to serve as an unofficial American spiritual witness for the rest of her life, standing aside three presidents during inaugurations — she appeared to sing not only for her life but also in service of the republic.
She was an American song that had made it her duty to travel from town to town, blessing every little corner of the republic. Maybe that was the idea when God created her.
Maybe every space is sacred, every moment holy. If Aretha Franklin’s voice doesn’t make you believe in God, it should at least make you believe in that.
In addition to possessing astonishing vocal talent, she was a pianist, songwriter, arranger, and performer. She was one of the towering figures whose talents expressed the seismic cultural shifts of a decade of momentous change.
The Queen of Soul’s Artistry
Queen Soul reigned for 6 decades and sang 4 octaves. As a student of music, what set her apart from others was her deep abiding appreciation for music in its various forms.
What Aretha had it can’t be taught. No one had more soul than Aretha. At her heart, she was a Gospel Singer.
Her producers discovered that Aretha didn’t have to forsake or fuse anything; she was not required to pick a lane — secular or gospel, pop or soul. Her talent simply didn’t work that way.”
Aretha Franklin described her style as being able to bring to the surface that which is happening inside.”
Aretha Franklin had what some people called “soul.” It’s that indescribable, quality some singers have. They might not have the most melodious or technically perfect voice, but when they sing people feel it. Ray Charles was quoted as saying that “Aretha sang from her inners.”
What made her unique was her ability to be flexible and be fluid with different genres. It’s not about hitting the high notes that even dogs could not hear, it’s about how she can make you feel those records.
She sang and performed in the classic 1980 movie The Blues Brothers it opened her to a whole new audience.
One of the most iconic and memorable performances by Aretha was asked to fill in for opera singer Luciano Pavarotti at the 1998 Grammy Awards, with only two hours to prepare.
Aretha agreed to sing “Nessun Dorma” and delivered a soul-stirring performance that is considered by many to be one of the best performances in the history of the Grammy Awards.
The Queen upstaged us and a new generation with divine inspiration. Aretha was a Diva! When we call someone in pop culture music a diva we are showing respect and honor.
She may have been difficult and a little imperious but no one disliked her for it. She knew what she wanted and let the world know she wasn’t backing down.
Aretha Franklin has left her eternal mark on this world and will never be forgotten.
She gave so much to this world and to America collectively. She has left a void in the black community and we thank her family for sharing her with us.
The Queen of Soul is the queen of everything! Queen of Rock&Roll, R&B, Soul, Gospel, Piano, Live Performance, National Anthem, America The Beautiful, She is the Queen because she touched your soul. THE END.
What a voice and what a legacy. She isn’t dead! She is still alive! Because her voice will never go away!
Again, we say, long live the Queen of Soul!