Majesty and Urgency: Aretha Franklin Remembered, By Her Peers and Her Heirs

Ruben Ruiz
August 18, 2018

A fierce musical talent not only in sensitive and dynamic vocal interpretation but also as a skilled pianist and arranger, Franklin demanded respect from us.

Wonder, who is also a Detroit native, also shared his admiration for her late father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, noting how much the two inspired his music. Because there's no other live album, for me, that is like that record.

As a result of the Jim Crow era, Aretha and many other black entertainers of her generation were victims of lower wages (not unlike today) and often weren't paid at all, re: BB King and Ray Charles. And then there's Aretha's voice, devoting every technique she learned from singing in church to a topic that's far more worldly.

No small part in that year's momentum was her signature single, "Respect", the opening track on Never Loved A Man.

As a millennial woman and artist, it was inspiring to learn that Ms. Franklin was so unapologetically about her paper* (see: cheddar, dough, bread, chicken, coins, or moola).

The women's movement was just getting going in 1967 when Franklin took on Otis Redding's "Respect", which soon became known as an anthem both for civil rights and for feminism.

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More songs from Franklin, including (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Think, Chain of Fools and I Say a Little Prayer, were in the Top 10. Her iconic performances and productions came to define the term "soul music" in the 20th century, setting the standard for black female vocal excellence. As press from across the world converged in Detroit to honor the Queen of Soul, 8-year-old Mariah had a simple question for her grandmother when she heard the news - who was Franklin?

Likewise, 1998 was significant, between releases and performances.

"You know, for the last couple of days, it has not been good".

She was reportedly surrounded by friends and family when she passed, and had been in failing health for "many months" under hospice care.

The 18-time Grammy award victor cemented her place in music history with a powerful, bell-clear voice that stretched over four octaves, her generations of hits spanning from soul and R&B, to gospel and pop.

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