Well guys, as the world is well aware of by now. We have lost yet another talented individual, who helped to shape and form soul music as we know it. At 9:50 am, on August 16, 2019 we suffered another great loss. Mrs. Aretha Franklin, who was affectionally known to all as “Queen Of Soul”, had lost her long time battle with pancreatic cancer.
In celebration of her life, can we chat and shine some light on how great she really was? Since Madonna failed to do so during the VMA’s (we’ll touch on that later). Let’s give Mrs. Franklin her just due.
On March 25, 1942, Aretha Louise Franklin was born in Memphis Tennessee, to Clarence LaVaughn “C.L.” Franklin and Barbara Siggers. Aretha’s life was nothing short of a fairytale. When she was only 6 yrs of age. Aretha’s mother left her, and her two older sisters, Erma and Carolyn, with their father.
Around the age of 10, Clarence relocated Aretha and her sisters to Detroit Michigan. And it was there, where Aretha begun to sharpen her musical abilities. Considered to be a child prodigy, Aretha begun singing in her father’s church at the young and tender age of 12. By the age of 14, Aretha’s father started to take her out on the road. And that is where she began to perform at various churches.
Life on the road may not have been the best thing for a girl that young. Aretha begin to have children at a very young age. She was a teenage mother of 2 children by the age of 15, but that did not stop her from accomplishing her dreams. Aretha would eventually sign a recording contract with J.V.B. Records, and she would then go on to release her first album named “Songs Of Faith”, which was released in 1956. By the age of 18, Aretha’s popularity made her an extremely sought out vocalist. Many record companies begun to approach her, but she would go on to sign with Colombia Records. And in 1960, she released her first single with Colombia named “Today I Sing The Blues” which reached the top ten of the hot Rhythm and Blues Sellers chart.
After many years, 6 years to be exact. Aretha decided to move on from Colombia records. Aretha wanted to move in a different direction within her music career. In 1967 she signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records. And that is where she received her first big commercial success with “I Never Loved A Man (The Way That I Loved You)”, which climbed # 1 on the R&B charts.
In 1968, Aretha’s song “Respect” earned her two Grammy Awards. “Respect” is also listed at #5 in Rolling Stone’s top “500 Greatest Songs Of All Time”. In the 1970’s, Aretha gained much of her commercial success. With mega hits such as Daydreaming, Don’t Play That Song, Wholy Holy, Until You Come Back To Me, Son Of A Preacher Man, Something He Can Feel, and so much more. From the years of 1968 to 1975, Aretha won a Grammy every year for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category. Aretha continued to win Grammy’s Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category in 1982, 1986 and 1988.
In 1987, Aretha was the first women to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Her talents never went unnoticed. She was an exceptional song writer, producer, pianist, and vocalist. Which made her a force to be reckoned with, while making her talents undeniable. Rolling Stone took notice of her talents again, and ranked Aretha #1 on its list of 100 Greatest Singers Of All Time.
Aretha has accomplished some much in her career. Aretha has 42 studio albums, 6 live albums, 45 compilation albums, and has spawn 131 hit singles. She has put out more hit singles than most musicians has put out hit albums! Aretha also managed to have a career that transitioned throughout gospel, disco and R&B. Now how many artists can say they have actually accomplished that? Or will even come close to doing so? Aretha’s music is also timeless. We have many artist that once that era or time is gone, so will their music.
Because of Aretha talents, she had longevity in the world of entertainment. So much so, Aretha performed well into her 70’s. Her voice was still remarkable, and she had not lost her touch. Her last performance was on Novemeber 7, 2017 at Elton Johns AIDS Gala. That’s where she preformed a melody of her greatest hits. She was also set to do quite a few performances. Unfortunately, her doctor deemed her too sick. Shortly there after, Aretha announced that she would be retiring from performing. And all of her scheduled performances, were canceled.
A few days prior to her death, word spread that Aretha was gravely ill. With that being said, I know I personally never expected her to pass away. It’s been said that she has been ill for quite some time. Aretha was such a private person. She refused to even speak on her health, even after it had become public knowledge. So no one really knew how such she actually was. Elton John had stated it was clear that Aretha was very sick. And that he never expected her to perform at his gala.
Now let’s flash ahead a bit. You mean to tell me Madonna could not do half of what I just did? When asked to speak on The Queen Of Soul, Madonna used that opportunity to bring life to her own washed up career. Instead of speaking on the great contributions that Aretha has made to the world of music. Madonna decided to take the time out, to speak about herself. About how she decided to sing “You Make Me Feel Like A (Natural Women)” at a audition. When we all know Madonna could never in her lifetime, nor any other life time sing any song that was created nor performed by the Queen herself. Madonna’s tribute was so left field, it was quite disrespectful. In all honesty I don’t know why we were even surprised. Look at what she did to Prince.
We will forever mourn the lost of such a national treasure. Luckily for us, she has left us with much of her greatness. Which will never and could never be erased. I am such a huge fan of Mrs. Franklin’s, and some of my personal favorites of hers include:
Jump To It
Ain’t No Way
I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)
Don’t Play That Song
You Make Me Feel Like (A Natural Woman)
Aretha’s voice was sheer perfection. The raw emotion that she delivers in her music is incredible. So because of that, her voice will always be welcomed in my home, and in the homes of many.
What are your favorite Aretha Franklin songs?
Sleep in peace Queen Of Soul