Aretha Franklin’s first exposure to music was through gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church where she sung for her father who was a minister. She was a natural; her angelic voice sounded like the gentle flap of doves in the morning sun. She was enigmatic in her rise and vocal of her support for black civil rights; she toured with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sang at his funeral, and offered to post bail for revolutionary scholar Angela Davis in 1970. The late 1960s, aside from her booming success with 1967 smash “Respect,” were her time of preparation for her commanding turn during the early 1970s, with singles such as “Day Dreaming” and “Spanish Harlem” making her a household name. Over the next few decades, and a slew of honors such as The National Medal of Arts and The Presidential Medal of Freedom, her name regularly popped up with beautiful hymns that showcased her ability to change with the ebb and flow of popular music; “Freeway of Love” from her 1985 platinum album Who’s Zoomin Who?” helped to increase her stature tenfold, and A Rose Is Still A Rose went Gold in 1998.
Her performances were the stuff of legend. She headlined the Filmore West in 1971 and gave one of the best performances of her career at a command performance for Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Her beautiful, booming voice and heavenly vocals made each public outing entrancing thanks to her awe-inspiring delivery. The smile that lit up intimate stages was equally infectious in large-scale venues. Her amazing performance skills only equaled her raw talent on the microphone. She set the standard for the ideal live performance of today.
There would be no soul music that exists today without Aretha Franklin’s amazing contributions. Her gospel background gave her the spirit to channel it into the secular music that she frequented. For six decades, her run in music was legendary, becoming the stuff of legends. The world lost much more than a legendary musician on Aug. 16, 2018. A paragon, musical titan, and creator of many of the conventions that we know and love today can finally sleep under the stars, content with knowing that her impact and message for this world will never be forgotten.
1AmRadio has put together a medley of some of her most well-known songs. Check them out below:
Sleep tight, Aretha Franklin. Thank you for everything.
“It really is an honor if I can be inspirational to a younger singer or person. It means I’ve done my job.” – Aretha Franklin