Published on August 19th, 2018 | by Jerry Doby0
Sunday Celebration: Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin moved on to lend her voice to the universe on a new plane however, she kindly left us with a great book of memories which spanned most of our lifetime…at least for folks like me! Her music and presence on the world stage provided inspiration and a living example of style and grace for a community beset by myriad trials and tribulations. Not one to bemoan the ills of life, she drove on and triumphed garnering the Respect even of many who fought desperately against the equality of women and minorities from the times of the civil rights movement even up to present time. She also was the first woman to be enshrined into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Franklin sold more than 75 million records worldwide during a six decade span reigning as the absolute Queen of Soul.
Statements from those who worked alongside and created for her or benefitted from her coverage of their work, are an amazing tribute to the woman, artist and activist that was Ms. Franklin.
Legendary Philadelphia International Records co-founders and R&B pioneers Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff released the following statement mourning the passing of the undisputed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin:
“We not only admire Aretha Franklin for her singing ability, but we appreciate what she did to uplift the community. We have always been honored and elated — and are still on ‘Cloud Nine’ – for having her cover two of our songs: ‘A Brand New Me’ and ‘Christmas Just Ain’t Christmas without the One You Love.’ While we never got the opportunity to work directly with Aretha, she was our dear friend.
“We send our deepest and sincere condolences out to her family. She was truly the best!”
Clive Davis, Franklin’s longtime friend and collaborator issued this statement
“I’m absolutely devastated by Aretha’s passing. She was truly one of a kind. She was more than the Queen of Soul. She was a national treasure to be cherished by every generation throughout the world,” Clive Davis said in a statement. “Apart from our long professional relationship, Aretha was my friend. Her loss is deeply profound and my heart is full of sadness.”
Franklin gave a special performance last April during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival which opened with the world premiere of Davis’ bio-doc, Clive Davis: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives at Radio City Music Hall.
The GRAMMYs, America’s singular most influential entity within the recording industry, issued a statement from the office of its President and CEO Neil Portnow recognizing Franklin’s achievements and status as one of the most profound voices in music.
Aretha Franklin was an incomparable artist who came to be recognized as one of the most profound voices in music. Known universally as the Queen of Soul, she solidified her legendary status in the late 1960s with chart-topping recordings that included “Respect,” “A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like),” and “Think.
“During her six-decade career Aretha earned 44 GRAMMY® nominations, 18 GRAMMY Awards, and was recognized by the Recording Academy™ on several occasions for her remarkable accomplishments as an artist and philanthropist. We were privileged to honor her with the Recording Academy’s GRAMMY Legend Award in 1991, the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994, and as the 2008 MusiCares® Person of the Year for her extraordinary artistic achievements and charitable efforts. Her distinctive sound, unforgettable recordings, and giving spirit will continue to be celebrated worldwide. Aretha will be dearly missed, and our thoughts go out to her loved ones during this difficult time ~ Neil Portnow President/CEO Recording Academy
Of course there are hundreds more tributes to the Queen from a plethora of living legends and industry stalwarts and we’d love to relate them all here BUT, I think it’s appropriate to point out that Franklin’s personality and bearing also caught the attention of a younger generation. The Queen’s acknowledgement of herself as a woman who’s prevailed and earned her throne, showcased a human side which sparked another kind of appreciation and some new age analysis if you will. Take for example this amazing piece from Zeba Blay, Senior Culture Writer, HuffPost:
“…Real power, perhaps, is in being above even the genuflections, because you already know you deserve respect.
Franklin once said, “We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right.”
For black women, especially those in the public eye, to appear shady or simply unimpressed is to run the risk of being dismissed as a mere caricature of black womanhood. But what made moments like “Great gowns, beautiful gowns” iconic was the fact that they transcended this trap, this fear. In all her diva-hood, in all her shade, Franklin gave herself (and thus other women) the permission to be whatever she was going to be. It was an inspiring embodiment of a simple, but powerful fact:
Call it pettiness, call it shade, call it whatever you want. You can’t stop a black woman from saying exactly what’s on her mind.” (Z. Blay, Huffingtonpost.com, August 16, 2018)
Read the full article: Aretha Franklin Wasn’t Just The Queen Of Soul. She Was The Queen Of Shade.
Ok we NORMALLY don’t do this but here’s the “…Gowns…” reference from Franklin’s Wall Street Journal interview after complimenting Adele and Alicia Keys, she responds to the interviewer’s question about Taylor Swift…
great gowns beautiful gowns, the great Auntie of shade will be missed pic.twitter.com/xKNG9Uj174
— taco bella lugosi🦇⚰️ (@biancaxunise) August 16, 2018
A legacy in this writer’s opinion, is the memories, inspiration and motivation one leaves in ones wake as we pass through this phase of our existence. As we recognize our responsibility to future generations, it’s incumbent on us to acknowledge challenges we’ve overcome, our achievements and our gifts so that we can give back. Once we’ve done that, our next imperative is to present the world that views us with an unshakable example of our awareness of our place within the world we are visiting and use that awareness to reach out and uplift others however we can…better yet, however they can accept. Ms. Franklin did that with her music, her stance and sacrifices in the realm of civil rights, her philanthropic work across multiple platforms and carrying herself visibly to the world as the Queen she was.
I’m supposed to close with something clever but…it hurts too much and there’s something in my eye ~
Dedication to that one who stayed the course!