Aretha Franklin gave us so much more than just her incredible music. From her humble beginnings as a minister’s daughter and gospel singer from Detroit, she made us believe that greatness is possible no matter your background is. Her music became our personal anthems and at least one of Aretha’s songs (for me and many others, more than one of her songs) served as a part of so many important milestones and events in our lives. She was a true legend and her voice can make anyone feel so overwhelmed with emotion that even President Barack Obama was moved to tears during one of her performances. Oprah Winfrey was also moved to tears when she performed the song ‘Amazing Grace’ on the Oprah Winfrey show.
She spent 50 years of her life making music and shared with us her God-given talent. She broke boundaries and excelled not only in her own genre but many others including classical music. Not many soul singers back in the days could make smooth transitions and cross over to different musical genres but Aretha did it. That’s what happens when you’re the queen of soul.
What was truly striking about Aretha is that although she’s classed as one of the world’s greatest divas. Many people who knew her said that she was so humble and kind. Gladys Knight made a comment saying ‘Aretha didn’t know what she had.’
In her interviews and shows, her humility shines through as much as her talent does.
Aretha didn’t just sing, she preached and brought us the sound of black church music and made it mainstream. She was powerful and radiant just like the star that she is on stage. She was glamorous and always brought the house down. She set the bar high for many artists that followed her and no one could ever surpass the success that she had.
I spent many years of my life singing her songs; in the studio, at school and the bathroom. I always sing ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ and ‘RESPECT’ when I’m doing my own thing around the house or when I’m feeling sassy and soulful. When I was 14 years old, I recorded my favourite song of hers which is ‘Natural Woman’ – a song Carole King (also one of my favourite singers) wrote and I still have the recording with me today. When I listen back to it, it’s clear that even at such a young age, I had the courage to sing a huge song of hers and belted the chorus with so much passion.