On Thursday, August 16, 2018, her majesty “The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin left this plane, but the world was blessed to experience and enjoy her talent and genius. Graced with the glimpse of the divine, the world and America stopped and paid its tributes to one of America’s greatest national treasures.
At 76, her majesty died of pancreatic cancer, and the great Stevie Wonder said, “I have known about her condition, but I prayed she would beat this thing. I hope people will grow up and grow out of this foolishness. Let go of the hatred – let go of bigotry – let go of selfishness. I love you Aretha.” Stevie Wonder flew to Detroit, one day before she died and she could not speak, but he spoke to her, and he believed that she understood everything he said to her. “Celebrate her life,” said Stevie.
President Obama and his wife Michelle said, “In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and every shade – our power and pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, and more human, and some-times she helped us just to forget about everything else and dance.”
At five-years-old, Aretha played the piano and sang like a seasoned professional, according to Smoky Robinson, and her father was a great pastor. She grew up in her father’s church, Rev Clarence L. Franklin, who was a religious celebrity. He was on the radio, tele-vision, and great men such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many of the great Black musicians of the time came over to their home in Detroit.
From a numbers point of view, Aretha Franklin was worth $60 to $80 million dollars, and expected a large portion of her performance payment in cash. The federal government always thought that she never paid all of her taxes, because many of her transactions were in cash.
She received 44 Grammy nominations and won 18 Grammy Awards. There were 42 studio albums released with 73 charting hits on the Billboard’s hot 100 R&B songs and 75 million albums sold worldwide. She was a voice of a generation and many of her songs became anthems for the civil rights movement.
As the tributes continue to pour in from entertainers, musicians, presidents, and friends, Mariah Carry had this to say about her mentor and friend. “Aretha was the greatest singer and musician of my lifetime. The power of your voice in music and in civil rights blew open the door for us and so many others. You were my inspiration, my mentor and my friend.”
I was introduced to Aretha by a girlfriend who lived in the Bronx, and worshiped everything she sang. This old girlfriend owned about 10 different Aretha albums and took me to the Apollo to see her perform during her to be Young Gifted and Black period. The way she was treated at the end of her concert was like a queen, and the show was great turned me into a big fan.
As this national treasure is put to rest, there is no singer or musician, who has not been inspired by her 60 years of work. There is not a style or genre of music from jazz to hip hop that she has not mastered.
I have always been proud of her body of work, and the foundation of many of the great singers of her era started in the church. Never stop teaching our children about our greatness, and the rich legacy of the shoulders they stand on.
As Stevie Wonder said, Aretha knew that he loved her, because he spoke to her one day before she passed on. Celebrate our elders and tell them you love them, before they pass on.