Aretha Franklin tribute: Darcy cartoon
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- With the passing of Aretha Franklin, the world has lost one of the most glorious voices to ever grace it.
The Queen of Soul passed 41 years to the day that the King of Rock, Elvis Presley passed on August 16, 1977.
I’d like to think that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who both passed on July 4th, are now reveling in a heavenly duet by Queen Aretha and King Elvis.
Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. She mastered every genre she sang, from soul to opera.
The first Aretha Franklin record I bought was a 45 of her performing “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” with Keith Richards. She would later also sing the operatic classic Nessun Dorma. She could sing the phone book and probably bring people to tears.
Most recording artists hope to just be more than a one hit wonder. Franklin just didn’t just score dozens of hits over her decades-long career, she has left anthems as her legacy.
Franklin took classics written and performed by others, like Otis Redding’s “Respect” and Carol King’s and Gerry Goffin’s “Natural Women” and took them to another level. The iconic anthem level. The level that has inspired generations of women.
Franklin’s magic touch also graced movies. Franklin’s role in “Blue Brothers” is one of the reasons the movie is a classic. For many, that movie was their first introduction to Franklin’s gift.
The daughter of a Detroit preacher taught herself to play piano and went on to perform for presidents, monarchs and the pope.
Civil Rights leaders credit her voice for keeping them inspired and motivated to keep marching on. Franklin went from singing at Martin Luther King Jr’s funeral to singing at the inauguration of the first African-American President of the United States, Barack Obama. More than once, her performances were so moving and powerful, they brought Obama to tears.
In addition to all her Grammy awards, Franklin was awarded the nation’s highest government and cultural honors.
Franklin’s last live performance epitomized the kind of person she was and the unifying impact she had. Despite being in the throes of battling the cancer that would eventually take her life, Franklin performed for Elton John’s charity event for AIDs before an adoring, diverse audience.
While turmoil continues to tarnished parts of the earth, the world has sounded great these past few days because it’s been filled with the sound of the songs the Queen of Soul has left us.
As much as I’ve loved the Dionne Warwick/Burt Bacharach version of “I say a little prayer,” I haven’t been able to get Aretha Franklin’s version out of my head, and I haven’t tried. I say a little prayer for Aretha, and a little prayer of thanks for being on the earth the same time she was.