Aretha Franklin, who passed away today at the age of 76 after a battle with cancer, was so much more than just the ‘Queen of Soul.’ Her rise to super stardom coincided with a virtual powder keg of politics, the Vietnam war, student protests, race riots, and the rise of black America against white oppression, which came to a head in the 1960s. Aretha was a voice and a reflection of her generation, where they’d had been, were currently, and the uncertain path ahead.
As a singer-songwriter, Aretha Franklin was overshadowed by artists like Joni Mitchell and Carole King, who are most often associated with that movement, but Aretha penned the classic “Dr. Feelgood” in 1967, and top five hits “Think” and “Sweet Sweet Baby” in 1968. She would write a string of hit originals in the early ’70s, including “Call Me,” “Rock Steady,” “Day Dreaming,” and “Spirit in the Dark.” And her skills as a pianist largely went unnoticed too. A woman with incredible depth and undeniable staying power. We’ll still be talking about Aretha Franklin decades from now.
Watch Aretha Franklin bring the house down at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, paying tribute to Carole King, who helped co-write the song she performed “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
A biopic starring Jennifer Hudson about Franklin’s life is in the early phases, and is based on the singer’s memoir Aretha: From These Roots.
Video and image source: YouTube